It was a sunny day at Le Castellet when the 27 drivers in the French F4 Championship took to the track for their seventh and final Qualifying session of the season. It was obviously a highly anticipated session, with so much at stake as the year draws to a close. Tyre management played a major role on the 5861 metre Paul Ricard circuit, with opportunities to set very good times throughout the 25 minutes.
In the morning, Canadian Kevin Foster was fastest in Free Practice ahead of American Garrett Berry and the two overall leaders, Evan Giltaire ahead of Enzo Peugeot. A few hours later, Foster confirmed this at the start of the Qualifying session, when he was one of the first to dip below the 2’07 mark on his third lap, as were Giltaire and Romain Andriolo. But times improved rapidly in the minutes that followed, while several academicians saw their fastest times cancelled for exceeding track limits.
By mid-session, drivers like Japan’s Hiyu Yamakoshi, Paul Alberto and Belgium’s Yani Stevenheydens were closing in on the fastest times, auguring an exciting second half to the session. And indeed it was. Enzo Peugeot started to put in a string of fast laps, but without dropping below 2’07, which Foster and then Giltaire managed to do.
The strategy was then to slow down for a lap to let the tyres cool down, or even to make a short pit stop. This is what drivers like Foster, Andriolo and Peugeot decided to do, while Giltaire and Alberto stayed on track. Three laps before the end, Giltaire set the final pole for Race 1 with a time of 2’06″569, before going on to set a time of 2’06″733 to secure a double pole with 1st place for Race 3.
Foster remained more than three tenths off the pace, but was a solid 2nd ahead of Andriolo, while the youngest of the field and a local driver at this event, Paul Alberto, was 4th ahead of Peugeot by just 7 hundredths. Edgar Pierre took an encouraging 6th place with his mid-session time, ahead of Yamakoshi. 8th-placed Jason Leung put in his best Qualifying performance of the season in 8th ahead of Stevenheydens, who did not improve as much as he would have liked towards the end of the session, unlike the Canadian. The last place in the top 10, synonymous with pole position for Race 2, went to Garrett Berry.