The French F4 Championship has confirmed its international stature as part of the Grand Prix de Pau. The Qualifying session saw Brazil’s Caio Collet set the fastest time ahead of Monegasque Arthur Leclerc, Belgium’s Ugo De Wilde, Germany’s Esteban Muth and France’s Pierre-Louis Chovet. Collet will start on the pole position for Saturday’s Race 1, and also on Sunday in Race 3 thanks to a better second time than his rivals. This second event of the FFSA Academy season promises to be particularly competitive on this circuit as difficult as it is legendary, on the streets of the Béarnaise city.

Running in the city centre of Pau between the railings is always an eagerly awaited moment, but also anxiety-inducing for the drivers. The circuit requires the driver to have a good feeling with his car to make the most of the sequence between the Park Beaumont and the Station curve. After a very significant morning free practice session to get their bearings and improve the set-up for the Qualifying session on Friday afternoon, the 18 academicians started looking for the best lap possible.

Caio Collet makes the difference

Under the sun at Pau, it took several laps to see the hierarchy stabilise somewhat. South Africa’s Stuart White, Brazil’s Caio Collet and Belgium’s Ugo De Wilde emerged in the lead, before Monegasque Arthur Leclerc set an excellent 1’20″535. After a first red flag following a problem with Sacha Lehmann’s car, Collet went on the warpath and set two successive very fast flying laps of 1’20″403 and 1’20″496.

“The Pau circuit is very different from the tracks I’ve seen since I started in single-seaters, but I felt confident in the car,” said Caio Collet. “I was able to attack more and more strongly over the laps and secure both pole positions. It was very good Qualifying session.”

Arthur Leclerc 1 tenth from pole

After the fastest time in Free Practice, Arthur Leclerc deservedly took his place on the front row for Races 1 and 3 of the meeting. “I may have been too conservative in the selection of the Qualifying set-up and I ended up with a bit of understeer. I could not improve as I wished at the end of the session. But in any case, it was a positive day. It’s always better on a street circuit,” said Arthur.

A “restart” after a last red flag did not change the result of the leading men, allowing Ugo De Wilde to retain his 3rd position. “With the two red flags, the Qualifying session was difficult to manage” admitted the young Belgian. “Every time, I needed to warm up the tyres and find a clear lap. I was not able to keep my provisional pole, but I’m still happy to be at the front of the race, which could see the weather change”.

The last significant improvement was for the German Esteban Muth, who overtook Pierre-Louis Chovet for 4th place by only 24 hundredths! Best Junior of the day, Theo Pourchaire was in 6th position in front of Stuart White.

Starting grid for the three races

Race 1 (Saturday, 12th May at 10:03): according to the fastest time of each driver in the Qualifying session
Race 2 (Saturday, May 12 at 17:20): according to the classification of Race 1, in reverse order for the top 10
Race 3 (Sunday, May 13 at 10:12): according to the 2nd fastest time for each driver in the Qualifying session