Two of French Formula 4’s pre-season favourites, Alessandro Giusti and Hugh Barter, set the pace in ‘private practice’ testing ahead of the opening round of the championship at Nogaro.
Barter, runner-up in 2021, set the fastest time in three of Friday’s five sessions, but was unable to beat Giusti’s best time of 1m27.728s, set in the cooler conditions of the morning’s opening session.
Giusti, the reigning junior champion, was one of the few not to improve on fresh tyres later in the day, although he continued to run consistently within the top seven.
The drivers had a total of 125 minutes running during the day, split into five 25-minute sessions.
Enzo Geraci set the second-best time in the opening session, 0.459s slower than Giusti. Like Giusti, he did not subsequently better his time, dropping to sixth overall as others improved.
The second session was headed by championship sophomore Pierre-Alexandre Provost, the only driver to dip under 1m29s.
Having made some set-up changes to the Mygale chassis, Barter topped the times in the third, fourth and fifth sessions. He set his best time of 1m27.747s in the warmer afternoon conditions of session four to move him up to second in the overall times for the day.
Winfield Racing School-supported Romain Andriolo, returning to the series having driven in five rounds last year prior to winning an F4 test with the school, put in an impressive lap to go third overall, having been inside the top nine in all sessions.
Japanese Red Bull/Honda juniors, Souta Arao and Yuto Nomura, were fourth and 14th respectively on their first visit to the Nogaro circuit. Arao, in particular, seemed to acclimatise rapidly, setting the second-fastest time in the day’s final session, just 0.063s behind Barter.
Elliott Vayron, a triple winner in 2021 as a guest starter, was surprisingly off the pace, posting a best time 0.786s slower than Giusti’s best, leaving him ninth overall.
Of the series rookies, karting graduates Edgar Pierre and Lorens Lecertua both impressed on their car racing debuts.
Pierre finished inside the top eight in each of the first four sessions, although a crash in turn nin at the end of the fourth session brought out the day’s only red flag and prematurely put an end to his running for the day.
Belgian Lecertua set the day’s seventh fastest time, as well as trailing only Barter in the third and slowest session.
Mateo Villagomez was the only driver to improve in the final 25 minutes, moving up one place to 20th overall.
Managing the Pirelli tyres proved challenging for all the drivers, with the high degradation meaning that the quicker times were set in the first third of each practice.
Combined practice times