Despite pressure from Barter, Masson brilliantly turned his pole position into victory in Race 1 to score a welcome win in the title duel with Capietto. This last race at Magny-Cours is keeping all its promises…
The weather decided to be lenient for this seventh and final round of the FIA French F4 Championship run by the FFSA Academy, leaving the young academicians to battle it out in the best possible conditions to determine the final 2021 ranking. In Nièvre, the meeting started under the best auspices for Esteban Masson, who was the fastest in Friday’s Free Practice ahead of Junior Alessandro Giusti, Macéo Capietto and the Australian Hugh Barter. These four drivers were again neck and neck in Qualifying the next day.
The favourites in Qualifying
On Saturday morning, Daniel Ligier was the first to set a reference time ahead of Enzo Geraci, before Esteban Masson moved to the top of the table on his fourth lap ahead of Hugh Barter. Two laps later, Alessandro Giusti took over the lead, but Barter was the first to break the 1’40 barrier. After more than a quarter of an hour of work, the session was getting faster and faster, with constant improvements. Already the fastest driver in May when F4 was at Magny-Cours for the second race of the season, Masson went on the attack and set two perfect rounds to take the lead over his opponents. “The track lacked grip in the first few laps, so I knew that I would have to wait until two-thirds of the session had passed to make the most of the tyres,” explained Esteban. “I also made sure I had a clear track ahead of me so I didn’t risk being caught out. I made my effort at the right time and it paid off.” The double pole position, the fourth of the season, could not have come at a better time for the driver, who is fighting for the 2021 crown.
Giusti, the best of the Juniors, recovered 2nd place from Barter, while Capietto had to be satisfied with 4th position for Race 1 with a 19 thousandths advantage over Ligier. Masson’s rival will however start 3rd in Race 3, sandwiched between Barter and Giusti, thanks to the second fastest laps of each driver.
Esteban Masson from start to finish
In the afternoon, at the start of Race 1, Esteban Masson made a perfect start and it was Barter who followed him at the expense of Alessandro Giusti. Daniel Ligier joined the party and his pushing took him to 3rd position in front of Giusti and Capietto. Further back in the field, an incident involved several cars. Enzo Richer and Luciano Morano unfortunately had to retire. Masson, the strong leader, started to set a tough pace in order to try to distract the chasing pack, but Barter kept up the pressure, as evidenced by his fastest lap in the race.
As the laps went by, the positions were stretched out, until Ligier made a mistake at the Lycée, creating some confusion in the chasing pack. The red flag was displayed. The finish was near so the race was not restarted. Masson logically kept the victory against Barter. “Hugh never gave me a moment’s peace, but I did what I had to do to keep my advantage. It was important to win today. I will try to stay focused, consistent and fast in the last two races,” said the winner. Giusti recovered 3rd place, while also doing well against Swiss driver Dario Cabanelas, thanks to this new success in the F4 Junior Championship.
Ranked 4th, Capietto will have to step up his game on Sunday if he wants to take the title. Fifth place went to Gaël Julien, who had to keep an eye on Owen Tangavelou and Dario Cabanelas. Once again, Noah Andy had a good start and then resisted to Enzo Géraci for the 8th place. Pierre-Alexandre Provost, who finished 10th, will start from pole position in Race 2 on the reverse grid principle. Angélina Favario, Elliott Vayron and Enzo Peugeot took the next positions. Daniel Ligier was finally downgraded by the stewards for having caused the red flag.
Continuation of the programme at Magny-Cours (Sunday 24 October 2021)
– Race 2 from 10:55 to 11:25
– Race 3 from 16:05 to 16:35
Qualifying session rankings *
1 (1) Esteban Masson (France) 1’39″382
2 (4) Alessandro Giusti (France) 1’39″695
3 (2) Hugh Barter (Australia) 1’39″724
4 (3) Macéo Capietto (France) 1’39″851
5 (5) Daniel Ligier (France) 1’39″870
6 (6) Owen Tangavelou (France) 1’39″989
7 (7) Gaël Julien (France) 1’40″114
8 (9) Dario Cabanelas (Switzerland) 1’40″159
9 (8) Enzo Geraci (France) 1’40″317
10 (10) Elliott Vayron (France) 1’40″322
11 (11) Noah Andy (France) 1’40″478
12 (12) Enzo Peugeot (France) 1’40″722
13 (13) Pierre-Alexandre Provost (France) 1’41″007
14 (14) Enzo Richer (France) 1’41″022
15 (15) Luciano Morano (USA) 1’41″734
16 (16) Angelina Favario (France) 1’44″295
* In brackets, ranking of the best 2nd lap
Race 1 ranking
1 Esteban Masson (France) with 7 laps
2 Hugh Barter (Australia) at 0″460
3 Alessandro Giusti (France) at 2″896
4 Macéo Capietto (France) at 3″239
5 Gaël Julien (France) at 7″443
6 Owen Tangavelou (France) at 8″572
7 Dario Cabanelas (Switzerland) at 9″265
8 Noah Andy (France) at 12″109
9 Enzo Geraci (France) at 12″702
10 Pierre-Alexandre Provost (France) at 17″871
11 Angélina Favario (France) at 29″229
12 Elliott Vayron (France) at 38″140
13 Enzo Peugeot (France) at 53″136
14 Enzo Richer (France) at 7 laps
15 Luciano Morano (USA) at 7 laps
16 Daniel Ligier (France), dropped
Best lap: Barter in 1’39″820 (avg. 159 km/h)