This week I had the amazing opportunity of testing a Formula 4 car! This was my first experience driving a car with wings and slick tyres. The wings on the car produce downforce, and the tyres help the car grip to the road. This means you can drive the F4 much quicker than the Formula Ford through the corners, while having about the same straight-line speed. The car also has paddle shift, whereas the Formula Ford is a manual gearbox with a clutch and H-Shifter, making it easier to change gears, and you don’t need to blip on the down shifts. Because you don’t need to blip, it also means you can left-foot brake because you don’t need to use the clutch on downshifts. The Formula 4 also requires the driver to apply much more braking power than the Formula Ford. The Formula Ford only requires 435psi of braking pressure, whereas the Formula 4 requires at least 1305psi, and even 1740psi for hard braking corners.
The circuit I drove at was a driver training circuit at Wodonga right near the border of Victoria and New South Wales. The circuit is 1.6km long, but the straight is only 300m in length. This means the circuit is very twisty and there is almost no time for ‘resting’, as you are always turning the wheel, braking or changing gears.
I had four runs of about 10 laps each. The first run I had I was getting used to the car and track. My first impressions of the car were that it had much more corner speed than the Formula Ford, and I was underestimating the entry speed you could carry. In the second run, I worked a bit on my lines, braking harder, and carrying more entry speed. In the third run I had, I set my fastest laps. This is because I had gotten more used to the car and track as the day went on. My fastest lap was 50.6s, which is an average lap speed of 114kph. I was really happy with how consistent I was able to be also after just the one day in the Formula 4. I was going to have a fourth run in the same car, but unfortunately while someone else was driving it, there was a problem with the car. This meant I had a quick run at the end in the second car. In the second car, the pedals were a little further forward, which meant they were a bit harder to reach. I could still set quick laps, it was just a little harder to control the pedals.
Overall, it was an amazing opportunity and I am very thankful to Wayne and Dean from Dream Motorsport for inviting me to the test day! I was able to spend quite a bit of time with Wayne from the team in the car between the airport and the track (about a 3 hour drive!). His experience is amazing and I learnt a great deal talking with him about racing then as well as whilst I was in the car at the track.
It was also great to meet Cam McConville and everyone from CAMS who were very supportive during the day. I am very appreciative to them all also for the opportunity and I have returned to Perth now with even more determination to work hard on every part of my racing development.