With his GCSE exams finally over, Alex took the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a Formula 4 car at Oulton Park.
The ink on his last exam paper hardly had time to dry as Alex dusted off his race kit and prepared for a day’s testing at Oulton Park in a BRDC F4 car with 23Racing. The team approached him whilst his exams were still going on so the offer had to wait until after his final exam - and before next weekend’s trip to Le Mans - for the start of his French F4 Championship campaign.
“The offer by 23Racing to get behind the wheel of a BRDC F4 car was too good to miss. The car is different to the car I will race in the French F4 Championship and is quicker. Driving around the International Circuit allowed me to concentrate on the car rather than having to also learn the circuit. Compared to the Ginetta I last drove around the circuit, the car has so much grip and the performance is in another league. Working with the team enabled me to get an understanding of driving a single seater which will be a big help when I test next week at Le Mans,” commented Alex.
Alex completed four 30-minute test sessions on a dry Oulton Park Circuit. The first session was used to familiarise himself with the car, learn the car’s characteristics and explore the grip levels provided by the new Pirelli slick tyres. A strong first drive saw Alex setting fastest times every lap as he mastered the track and the car.
So he could concentrate on his driving, the car set up was not changed for the second run and, again, Alex improved his times further until an issue with the fixings of the front wing required Alex to pit so the team could repair the failed mountings.
“At Lodge corner, the final corner before the run to the start and finish line, I ran a little bit wide and ran along the kerb. I noticed that the panel in front of me had come loose so I immediately pitted. In the pits, it was found that the front nose middle fixing blocks had pulled out of the carbon fibre section. It looked like the bonding had failed. Carl, my engineer, managed to repair the mountings and bolt the nose cone securely back on to the car so we could continue testing,” explained Alex.
The third session saw the sun appear and the track temperature increase and Alex was able to again turn the timing screens purple as his lap times continued to tumble. This extra pace caught the team out and Alex had to pit during the session to refuel the car as the increase in performance had used more fuel than the team expected. After a brief stop to refuel, Alex returned to the circuit and immediately matched his previous best time on his first flying lap, before the chequered flag came out to end the session. The final session of the day was a full 30-minute run with Alex again reducing his fastest lap time and setting a number of fast and consistent times.
“I must thank 23Racing for this opportunity and racing in the BRDC F4 Championship is definitely something I will be putting on my option list. This test will enable me to go to the test in Le Mans next week with at least some single seater experience and ensure I maximise the time to get on the pace with the other French F4 Championship drivers. Until then, I will be putting in as many laps as I can on my simulator to learn as much as I can about the Le Mans circuit,” reflected Alex after a successful first F4 drive.
Alex will contest this year the final three rounds (9 races) of the FFSA French F4 Championship with support from his partners Lockton MIS Motorsport and Driven Steering and will be aiming to take them both to the top step of the podium.