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French F4 chosen to be the titular race for this weekend’s Pau Grand Prix

by Ida Wood

Photo: Ida Wood

The organisers of the Pau Grand Prix have revealed that the event’s titular race will be part of the French Formula 4 championship following Euroformula’s departure from this weekend’s event.

The grand prix winner’s trophy has been awarded to the victor of the second Euroformula race of the weekend in each of the last two runnings of the event, with double amputee Billy Monger making history and global headlines with his 2019 win.

However a push by the event for attending series to power their cars with biofuel or electricity led to Euroformula announcing last week it would withdraw from the grand prix bill as it did not believe it could meet the biofuel targets.

That then left the event without a designated race with the grand prix title, but now the schedule has been updated to reveal the third French F4 race of the weekend will now be considered the grand prix.

French F4 was created in 2011 (although did not use FIA F4 cars until 2018) and has supported the 10 runnings of the Pau GP that have taken place over the last 12 years.

Its winners on the city streets have included Alpine’s prototype sportscar driver Matthieu Vauxiviere, the late Anthoine Hubert, last year’s Super Formula championship runner-up Sacha Fenestraz and Yifei Ye. Formul’Academy Euro Series, a predecessor series to French F4, also raced on the Pau GP support bill.

The grand prix itself was a non-championship Formula 1 race from 1947 to 1957, then spent three years running for Formula 2 cars before another three years as an F1 race.

From 1964 to 1984 it was an F2 race once again, before that category was replaced by Formula 3000 and it was part of the international championship from 1985 to 1998. After that the grand prix ran for Formula 3 cars, until the World Touring Car Championship made Pau a high-profile addition to its calendar and it became the headline series for the event.

The French municipality that Pau lies in decided the race would not go ahead in 2010, but for eight of the next nine years the grand prix was one of the key dates in the world’s F3 calendar. The exception was 2013, when the Formula Renault 2.0 Pau Trophy was created to be the headline race for the event and Luca Ghiotto won.

That marked the lowest category to be considered as having top billing at the track, and now the entry-level French F4 championship will lower that further.

Evan Giltaire tops the French F4 standings after two rounds of the 2023 season. His closest rival is FEED Racing France shootout winner and Team Canada scholar Kevin Foster, while Yani Stevenheydens represents Belgium after winning the nation’s revived Volant shootout.

Germany has a ADAC Formula Junior Team that it launched following the demise of its own F4 championship to compete in the FFSA-run French series. Max Reis is its most experienced driver, and is joined by Finn Wiebelhaus and Tom Kalender.

Another notable name is Louis Schlesser, son of double World Sportscar champion and one-off F1 starter Jean-Louis Schlesser.

The Pau Grand Prix’s history as a junior single-seater race

1958-’59: Non-championship F2 race
1960: F2 championship
1964-’67: French F2
1968-’70: Non-championship F2 race
1971: French F2
1972-’84: European F2
1985-’98: International F3000
1999: Non-championship race awarding the FIA European F3 Cup
2000: French F3 (race awarding the FIA European F3 Cup)
2001-’02: Non-championship race awarding the FIA European F3 Cup
2003: F3 Euro Series (race awarding the FIA European F3 Cup)
2004-’05: F3 Euro Series
2006: British F3
2011: FIA F3 International Trophy
2012: FIA European F3 & British F3
2013: Non-championship FR2.0 race
2014-’18: FIA European F3
2019, ’22: Euroformula
2023: French F4