Honda’s Red Bull junior Souta Arao remains in contention for a first single-seater title as he picks up another F4 podium
The French Formula 4 championship returned to its home country this weekend by heading to Ledenon, a town with an extreme topography and a 3.151-kilometre race circuit that wraps itself around it.
Making their first trip to the track 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. Having not raced in over a month, the two young talents were kept busy by work with Red Bull and physical training to make sure they would be ready to get back in their Mygale F4 racers.
Nomura started the weekend with second place in Friday’s free practice session, but Arao was the faster of the pair in qualifying later that day as a late lap earned him fifth place. Nomura was eighth fastest, but would line up seventh for the third and final race of the event.
Both drivers then moved up the grid for race one due to penalties for others, with Arao starting in third and Nomura sixth. Arao made the most of his elevated starting position to convert it into a third place finish, his sixth podium of the season, and Nomura made progress up to fifth place but unfortunately dropped two places late on and finished seventh before penalties lifted him back to fifth.
Nomura and Arao lined up third and sixth on the reversed grid of race two, and it took less than a lap for Nomura to rise up to second. Arao quickly climbed to third, but after a brief safety car period his progress was undone and he faded to eighth. Second place was retained by Nomura for some time, but after sustained pressure from behind he conceded positions and met the chequered flag in fifth. A 30-second penalty meant Arao was classified in 15th.
Arao rebounded by scoring points for seventh place in race three, but Nomura had no luck as he was spun around by another driver on the second lap. Although the two Honda juniors would have preferred to score more points with the pace they had shown, Arao still heads into the final two rounds of the season in contention to be crowned champion.