Arao extends French F4 title challenge to final round with Valencia performance
Honda’s Red Bull junior Souta Arao will go to the final round of the French F4 season with a chance of being champion
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.