Brazilian Formula 4’s much-anticipated round supporting Formula 1’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix delivered what drivers, teams, sponsors and the series promoter expected.
All the ingredients were there for a memorable weekend: a chaotic qualifying session, aggressive driving in the season’s penultimate meeting, a Barrichello driver making the sold-out grandstands shout loud as he was fighting for wins and a superb performance by a driver who is backed by a Formula 1 team.
Bassani Racing was the team to beat, as Alpine junior Matheus Ferreira came from Europe to join them and win races one and three. Rookie Alexandre Machado benefited from a good start for his maiden win in the reversed-grid race two.
Qualifying was scheduled for late on Friday afternoon but had to be postponed to Saturday when a storm hit Interlagos. At 6:40am, when the green flag was shown, the track and kerbs were damp and all but rookie Cecilia Rabelo went for slick tyres. But with three red flags stoppages the Cavaleiro Sports driver’s choice was proved to be the best, as she claimed two poles with her two fastest laps.
When the lights went out for race one a few hours later, Rabelo stalled on the grid. Points leader Vinicius Tessaro took the lead, followed by TMG Racing’s Rafaela Ferreira. Matheus Comparatto was another to not get going, and was collected by Luca Zucchini.
After a quick safety car intervention, Matheus Ferreira overtook his namesake, who also lost out to Alvaro Cho. Once again the safety car was called, after contact between Rafaela Ferreira and Luan Lopes on lap six.
Matheus Ferreira charged to pass Tessaro on Senna’s S. By then, Fernando “Fefo” Barrichello was making the fans scream as he clawed his way up the order from 10th in the final laps. Alpine junior Ferreira won, Tessaro was second, with Cho, Barrichello and Alexandre Machado completing the top five.
Joao Tesser was on pole for race two but did not get going from the grid. Machado took the lead, which he held all the way after a fierce attack from Barrichello in early laps. Nelson Neto was third throughout, Comparatto was fourth and Matheus Ferreira pulled off some nice moves to finish fifth from eighth.
Rabelo did a better job from pole in race three but was still slow, being passed by Matheus Ferreira, Barrichello and Tessaro by the Senna ‘S’.
The safety car interrupted proceedings on lap two, and Ferreira managed to stay ahead on the restart. Barrichello shook off huge pressure from Tessaro, while Comparatto climbed up the field.
On lap nine the safety car returned after contact between Rabelo and Tesser. Matheus Ferreira kept his nerves staying ahead on the next restart. Tessaro tried a move on Barrichello but lost his front wing, which made him lose ground and later retire with a flat tyre. Comparatto inherited the final podium place to return to second in the standings, with Lopes and Cho rounded out the top five.
After dropped scores, Tessaro has a 26-point championship lead. Cho is 28 behind in third, and Lopes is still in title contention too.
Race 1 (14 laps)
1 Matheus Ferreira Bassani Racing 26m48.549s
2 Vinicius Tessaro Cavaleiro Sports +0.819s
3 Alvaro Cho TMG Racing +1.910s
4 Fefo Barrichello Cavaleiro Sports +7.834s
5 Alexandre Machado Bassani Racing +8.976s
6 Nelson Neto Cavaleiro Sports +10.675s
7 Cecilia Rabelo Cavaleiro Sports +14.551s
8 Joao Tesser Cavaleiro Sports +21.948s
9 Rafaela Ferreira TMG Racing +38.875s
10 Arthur Pavie Bassani Racing +1 lap
Pole: Cecilia Rabelo, 1m51.757s
Fastest lap: Tessaro, 1m37.952s
Race 2 (12 laps)
1 Machado 19m43.526s
2 Barrichello +2.023s
3 Neto +2.742s
4 Matheus Comparatto Bassani Racing +5.184s
5 M Ferreira +5.801s
6 Tessaro +6.064s
7 Cho +8.840s
8 Luan Lopes TMG Racing +9.499s
9 Tesser +10.669s
10 Pavie +11.416s
FL: Machado, 1m37.706s
Race 3 (15 laps)
1 M Ferreira 28m09.626s
2 Barrichello +3.309s
3 Comparatto +4.969s
4 Lopes +5.094s
5 Cho +5.191s
6 Luca Zucchini Cavaleiro Sports +7.197s
7 R Ferreira +10.521s
8 Pavie +12.021s
9 Neto +14.123s
10 Tesser +28.488s
P: Rabelo, 1m48.064s
FL: M Ferreira, 1m37.331s
1 Tessaro 197 2 Comparatto 171 3 Cho 169 4 Lopes 145 5 Barrichello 106 6 Neto 100 7 Zucchini 84 8 Tesser 67 9 Matheus Callejas 61 10 M Ferreira 57