In his first French F4 race weekend, Lockton MIS Motorsport’s Alex Sedgwick secures top ten finish, and is the fifth placed junior driver overall.
Two hours south of Paris lies the legendary and very technical Magny-Cours circuit which, over the years, has hosted many famous French Formula 1 Grand Prix. This weekend, it was the location for the fifth round of the French F4 Championship and Alex’s first single-seater race weekend.
Seventeen drivers, including ten “junior” drivers (drivers aged 15 to 16 years of age) would line up on the grid for round 5 of the French F4 Championship, all with experience of the circuit and championship F4 car.
Alex’s F4 debut kicked off on Friday morning with a 30 minute practice session to learn the track and set-up his car. By the end of the session, Alex had set the eighth fastest time and was the fourth fastest junior driver.
Now the focus changed to the afternoon’s qualifying session which did not go to plan for Alex. To achieve a fast lap time around the Magny-Cours circuit, it is necessary to drive the car across many of the corner kerbs. This puts a lot of stress on the car and, early in the session, the floor of the car fractured. With no time to fix the car, a time had to be set with a damaged floor and an intermittent braking issue which had also developed.
With a damaged floor, the car would not turn properly so the best time Alex could set placed him fifteenth on the grid for Saturday’s first race.
This meant he would start towards the back of the grid for the first race and Sunday’s third and final race. The starting position for the second race is determined by the finishing position from race one.
Friday evening, a new floor was fitted to Alex’s Lockton MIS Motorsport supported car; the mechanics also fixed the brake problem which was caused by a jammed bias bar.
With a repaired car, Alex lined up on Saturday on the grid in fifteenth place. A good start saw him hold his position into the first corner and then he set about chasing down the pack of drivers in front of him. All the drivers were pushing very hard and, as the laps ticked off, Alex moved through the field in to 11th place. One more place would have given him pole position in the second race as the top ten positions are reversed. He pushed as hard as he could and narrowly missed tenth place by just six tenths of a second at the flag, but he did finish as the 5th place junior driver.
Race two started well but, even before the first lap was completed, Alex had to avoid a spinning car and, in doing so, dropped to the back of the field. Things then got even worse as he was given a drive-through penalty for a jump start. On lap three, he took his drive-through penalty and rejoined the race in 16th position. Another very determined drive saw him move back through the field and, as he took the chequered flag, he crossed the line in 11th position and the 6th place junior driver.
The name of the game for Sunday’s final race was an overall top ten finish. A lightning start saw Alex move up one place at the start. The challenge was now to move through the pack of cars where no driver would give up a place easily.
Mid-race, two drivers came together in the pack which split the cars up into two groups and allowed the front five cars to make a break. As the remaining pack jostled for positions, the laps reduced and, on his final lap, Alex was in 13th position. As the group of cars raced into the infield area of the circuit, two cars ran wide and Alex immediately seized on the opportunity, moving up two more positions. A final dash to the line saw him gain another place and he crossed the line in tenth place, and the fifth place junior driver.
“What a weekend! Racing at Magny-Cours, my first race in a single-seater, a top ten finish against some of Europe’s best F4 drivers, not a bad weekend’s work. The racing is very different from what I experienced in the Ginetta Junior Championship. I have learnt a lot this weekend which will help me for the future. The floor failing on the car and then the braking issue, which the mechanics could not fix until after qualifying, was a tough break. Once the car was fixed, my lap time improved by just under a second a lap!” commented Alex.
“I must say a big thank you to Lockton MIS Motorsport who has helped me in so many ways and finishing in the top ten in my first F4 race weekend and fifth place junior driver, is a great start,” reflected Alex