The two biggest stars of French Formula 4 qualifying in Pau faced drastically different track conditions, which ultimately meant one was never going to get pole.
As a result of the 26-car field being split into two groups, championship leader Evan Giltaire and closest rival Kevin Foster went on track for qualifying on Friday at different times.
Giltaire drove in the first group on a wet and cloud-covered track, while Foster was in a sunny second group in which the track rapidly dried and laptimes were over five seconds faster than the first group’s.
The pair topped their respective groups, and although Giltaire was only the 10th fastest qualifier, by topping his group he gets to start from the front row for race one and race three, which is the Pau Grand Prix.
Giltaire admitted to Formula Scout that the first group’s track conditions were “difficult”.
“I’m happy with the first group because I put one second on everyone on the real wet track. So I’m really happy about that,” he said. “Just unfortunately, the second group was faster in the drier conditions. But I’m still happy.
“We will see tomorrow. Normally it will be wet, normally, but I think in both conditions I will be really fast. Also it’s my first time in the wet ever in F4, first time ever in wet in Pau, so it’s nice.”
Foster told Formula Scout about the impact of the drying track during his qualifying group.
“Like lap one versus the last lap, there’s nearly six seconds difference. So when the track is just constantly evolving, you really just need to keep your head, not overpush the risk, but you can’t be caught lacking,” said the FEED Racing France scholar.
“You’ve always got to be pushing something and it must have been a combination of good track management. We had good space the whole session. Even though we had two, three red flags, I was able to always get good clean air. And I just picked my marks on the fast lap and it was enough to hold for pole.
“We’re all kind of stacked up in the pits [during the red flag stoppages] and they let us out one by one in the order that we came into the pits. So all I could really do was – the guys in the pits, they kind of spaced themselves a little bit. I tried to get past the people I knew I was quicker than and built a gap to another fast car that was ahead of me and just had a reference point to kind of balance myself with.
“And I mean, to take first my pole at Pau, it’s something special. It’s a race that we’ve been looking forward to, both me and Patrick [Lemarie, former CART racer and FEED Racing founder], and so to take pole here I think is no better way to thank him for all the help.”