French F4 2022
Round 6

Arao extends French F4 title challenge to final round with Valencia performance

es Circuit Ricardo Tormo

Honda’s Red Bull junior Souta Arao will go to the final round of the French F4 season with a chance of being champion

Arao extends French F4 title challenge to final round with Valencia performance

The French Formula 4 championship made the second of its international trips this weekend, heading to Circuit Ricardo Tormo near Valencia for three races. 

On the grid were Honda Racing School (HRS) scholars Souta Arao and Yuto Nomura, representing Honda's young driver development programme Honda Formula Dream Project (HFDP) and the Red Bull Racing Formula 1 team and making their first ever visit to Spain for racing.

Arao was the very first driver to get on the pace during Friday practice, but he was fifth on the timesheet by the end of the session as he chose not to set as many laps as others, who had faster track conditions. 

In qualifying he got as high as second place, and put himself an impressive third on the grid. Nomura was less than two tenths of a second slower but only qualified eighth in an exceptionally close session. 

Arao converted his qualifying position into his seventh podium of the season in race one, while Nomura was unlucky to get involved in a clash that put him out of the race early on.

The reversed-grid race later that day provided an opportunity for redemption, and in a super-competitive race where the positions in the top 10 often changed but several drivers also got caught out it was a good return for Nomura and Arao to get through it trouble-free in sixth and seventh places.

There was contact however for Arao in race three, resulting in him falling to the back of the order from a top-five position. He recovered back up to 10th place, earning himself two important points, and Nomura had a clean race to finish fourth, his best result since May.

There is one event of the French F4 season left to go, taking place at Circuit Paul Ricard on 14-16 October, and Arao will be one of three drivers competing to become the 2022 champion.

Souta Arao
Souta Arao 33
In practice, I had no grip at all, and in qualifying I switched to new tyres and was unable to adjust to the difference in grip, finishing third. In race one, I couldn’t get a good start and my race pace was not good at all, so I had to settle for third.

In race two, my race pace was not good but I was able to improve my position. However, on the last lap, I was hit from behind and dropped from fifth to seventh.

I got a good start [in race three] but lost one position. Then as I was entering a corner without realising a driver was running behind me and hit my rear tire, I was knocked right to the back. But I was able to catch up to the points. It was a tough weekend for me and I am not happy about the contacts, but I will do my best to finish the last race weekend in a good way.

Yuto Nomura
Yuto Nomura 15
The car had a good feeling in practice, so I went into qualifying with confidence. However, when the qualifying started, I couldn't use the grip of the new tires well and ended up in eighth place. It was frustrating because there was almost no time difference with third place.
Race one, I made a good start, but when the safety car came out in the first lap, the driver in front of me slowed down and I couldn't respond to it, so I collided with him. The car was damaged and it was not in a condition to run, so I retired.
Due to the penalty of the rear-end collision in race one, I was demoted five places on the grid and started [race two] from eighth place. I was overtaken by two cars on the first lap, but after that my pace was good, so I moved up to sixth.
In race three I overtook one car at the start, and after that I got into contact with the driver in front of me, so I moved up to fifth. My race pace was good from the beginning, so I caught up with the cars in front. After that, the driver in front of me entered the pits due to a drive-through penalty, and I automatically moved up to fourth. I caught up with the car in third place, but I was unable to overtake him and ended up with the chequered flag in fourth.

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