It’s strange to think it is only FRECA’s second season. Following the merge of FREC and Formula Renault Eurocup, FRECA has managed to become one of the most attractive feeder series. With 12 teams and more than 36 drivers already signed for the entirety of the season, we should get a thrilling title battle. Drivers and teams, weekend format, calendar; here is our guide to the 2022 FRECA season.
By Perceval Wolff
Few would have bet on Grégoire Saucy prior to the start of the inaugural FRECA season in 2021, but the Swiss driver was dominant in an otherwise tight field. Many exciting drivers confirmed or revealed their potential, such as Hadrien David, Paul Aron, Zane Maloney, Isack Hadjar, Franco Colapinto and Michael Belov. Most of them have moved up to FIA Formula 3 this season but some have been forced to stay.
Last season qualifying was often the most exciting moment of a race weekend, while the races were more often than not processions. Because of that push-to-pass has been introduced to create more overtakes. However, after using it in testing, the drivers aren’t impressed by the new system yet and they’re sceptical about its help for overtakes.
Teams and drivers
Let’s start with the reigning teams’ champion. The French squad will enter four cars for four returning drivers. Their lead driver should be Hadrien David (#26), runner-up in 2021. The Alpine Affiliate driver will have his eyes on the title. However, he will have to watch out for his Brazilian teammate Gabriel Bortoleto (#85), who looked solid in pre-season testing. He should be able to do better than 15th in his debut season with FA Racing.
Lorenzo Fluxá (#16) will hope to make some progress after an underwhelming season with VAR (25th with no points). Same for Léna Bühler (#15) who has not yet been officially announced. It will be the Swiss driver’s second season with R-ace and she will hope to improve on her debut season.
ART Grand Prix
Despite Grégoire Saucy’s dominant campaign last season, ART GP missed out on the teams title in the final round. Led by Gabriele Minì (#46), they will aim to win both titles in 2022. The Italian was the most impressive driver in testing and will start his second season with ART. Given his impressive junior career, the 2020 Italian F4 champion is one of the favourites for the title.
It will be interesting to see how Mari Boya (#64) manages with his new team. Taking a step up after being VAR’s highest ranked driver last season (14th, one podium), this year will tell us more about the Spaniard’s true potential. ART’s new signing Laurens Van Hoepen (#42) is a question mark. With very little single-seaters experience but a lot of expectations around him, the Dutchman could be a big surprise, especially at the end of the season after gaining some experience. He has been lauded as ‘an uncut diamond’ by ART’s Team Manager Mathieu Zangarelli.
Prema has one of the best line-ups of the FRECA grid. Mercedes Junior driver Paul Aron (#3) will start his third season in the category and won’t be satisfied with anything less than the title, after finishing third last season. Dino Beganovic (#18) has showed glimpses of tremendous speed but was too inconsistent to play a part in the title battle. His FRAC (Formula Regional Asia Championship) campaign this winter was encouraging though and he should be able to vastly improve on his debut season.
Sebastián Montoya (#58) is one of the favourites for the rookie title. After two average seasons in Italian F4 with Prema, the Colombian has stolen the show in FRAC with three pole positions and two race wins against much more experienced drivers. He will be eager to continue his form. Hamda Al Qubaisi (#88) is might be the most talented female driver in this years field and will try to fight for points.
In a European championship, the British team has placed all its hopes on Latin American drivers and all of the drivers looked like they had the pace in testing. Eduardo Barrichello (#91) will start his second FRECA campaign and will have to step up his level, after an anonymous season, finishing way down the order in 29th.
Noel León (#19) is one of Red Bull’s latest recruits. The F4 NACAM reigning champion starts his European career in an extremely competitive championship and will have to adapt quickly. After three seasons and six wins with Mücke Motorsport in F4, Joshua Dürksen (#10) makes his long-awaited step up to Formula Regional.
The Dutch squad has one of the most intriguing line-ups. All three drivers are considered major talents by some but haven’t always met expectations in their careers. Michael Belov (#30) is back, this time for a full season, after a partial campaign with G4 Racing where he collected two wins and finished eighth, despite missing the first four rounds. The Russian driver could be an outsider for the title.
Dilano van’t Hoff (#77) has dominated Spanish F4 last season. He had his first taste of Formula Regional with a FRAC campaign this winter where he got one pole position and one podium but was beaten by his rookie teammate Pepe Martí. Sami Meguetounif (#17) is the only rookie of the team and is a contender for the rookie title. Despite a disappointing ADAC F4 campaign last season, the French-Moroccan has shown consistency in pre-season testing.
The young Swiss-Spanish squad will try to at least match last season (6th and two wins). British F4 runner-up Matías Zagazeta (#8) seems to be the most promising driver of the team and could be regularly in contention for points. Owen Tangavelou (#92) has been a surprise in testing. He started karting only three years ago and has been making up for lost time ever since.
Axel Gnos (#7) is the most experienced driver of the team. After a learning season, the Swiss driver will try to step up his game and fight for points on a regular basis. Belén García (#22) was supposed to do a partial campaign like last year to prepare herself for another W Series season, but announced before the first round that she won’t be competing this season.
Van Amersfoort Racing
The lead driver of the team is Kas Haverkort (#27). The Dutchman is already facing the greatest challenge of his young career. After an amazing 2020 Spanish F4 campaign, Kas has disappointed in FRECA, finishing down the order in 16th. He has now left MP Motorsport to join the other Dutch team. His pace was solid in testing and he knows what to do.
Sixth in Italian F4 last year with VAR, Joshua Dufek (#13) continues his journey with the Dutch outfit. He often placed his car into the top 10 in testing and could be a surprise. Levente Révész (#11), who finished 30th in Italian F4 and 23rd in FRAC this winter will most likely also be a backmarker here.
FA Racing by MP
Like last year, the Spanish squad is an offshoot of MP Motorsport. And just like MP, the driver lineup is really exciting with three rookie drivers. Esteban Masson (#9) is the reigning French F4 champion. Despite being in a modest team like FA, he could surprise some people and regularly score points.
The fastest FA driver in testing was fellow Frenchman Victor Bernier (#12). Fourth in ADAC F4 in 2021, he finally managed to get the necessary funding to go to FRECA, after missing out on a seat last season. Colombian Nicolás Baptiste (#35) was only 24th in Italian F4 last year. Even though his performances in testing were behind his teammates, he still showed decent pace.
The Finnish team has one of the lowest-rated trios this season. With Francesco Braschi (#28), Santiago Ramos (#68) and Piotr Wiśnicki (#21), KIC has signed Jenzer Motorsport’s Italian F4 drivers of last year, who finished P16, P22 and P23 in the final standings. Pre-season testing was also underwhelming and it could be a long season for the team.
For the first time in the little Italian team’s history, Monolite will line-up three cars. The most exciting driver is Macéo Capietto (#5). The Frenchman born in 2006, will be the youngest driver on the grid. And it’s fair to say Capietto has been one of the most impressive drivers of pre-season testing. Monolite seems to have a very quick driver to bring them back tinto the points.
His teammates Han Cenyu (#24) and Pietro Armanni (#6) finished 26th and 28th in Italian F4 and encountered difficulties in testing.
Race Performance Motorsport
RPM is a new team and has signed returning driver Pietro Delli Guanti (#55) for their first season. 18th in his maiden season, the Italian driver showed solid progression with Monolite. Although RPM struggled at the start of testing, the Italian team showed good progression. They will have to confirm their pace during the races.
Keith Donegan (#65) is the owner of the team and has done all the pre-season testing days. It has not been confirmed whether he would race or not, but RPM and Donegan are weighing their options. After more than three years without racing, the 25-year-old Irish driver was a bit rusty, but seemed to have more and more pace by the end of the six days of collective practice.
Trident is another new team. But unlike RPM, the Italian squad has chosen to put their faith in three rookie drivers. And this choice appears to be paying off, as pre-season testing was a success for the team, with the three drivers flirting with the top 10. ADAC F4 and Italian F4 runner-up Tim Tramnitz (#70) was globally the quickest Trident driver and could well go for the rookie title, given his team’s performance during testing.
Seventh in GB3 despite missing the two first rounds, Roman Bilinski (#4) has also shown good pace. Same for Leonardo Fornaroli (#72), fifth in Italian F4 last season. The Trident trio looks very homogenous and could be a big force to push the team to the top.
- Monza 22-24 April Main event
- Imola 6-8 May Main event
- Monaco 27-29 May F1 Monaco Grand Prix
- Paul-Ricard 3-5 June GT World Challenge
- Zandvoort 17-19 June GT World Challenge
- Hungaroring 8-10 July EF Open
- Spa-Francorchamps 27-29 July GT World Challenge
- Red Bull Ring 9-11 September EF Open
- Barcelona 14-16 October EF Open
- Mugello 21-23 October Main event
Like last year, FRECA qualifying and races will be broadcasted live on YouTube and Facebook. The commentator will once again be Chris McCarthy.
A new weekend format
The format has changed a little from last year. There are still two qualifying sessions that set the grid for the two races. However, each qualifying session will now be divided into two groups. Group A will include the 1st, the 3rd, the 5th, etc. of the championship, while group B will be composed of the 2nd, the 4th, etc., which will help form balanced groups.
The fastest lap of the two groups will start from pole position for the race. All the drivers in the group of the fastest overall will then line-up on the grid on P3, P5, P7, etc. The fastest lap from the other group will start in P2, and drivers behind him in his group will start P4, P6, P8, etc. So the driver in P3 could have done a quicker lap time than the driver in P2, but he will still start from the second row of the grid, as he finished second of his group.
Standings and titles
Three titles will be awarded at the end of this 20-race season, with the Drivers’ title, the Rookies’ one and the Teams’ one. All drivers are eligible to participate in the Drivers’ championship. However, wild-cards or guest drivers will not be able to score any points. If they win a race, the 25 points for P1 will go to the driver finishing second.
With twenty newcomers, more than half of the field will compete for the Rookie championship. To be eligible in this championship, drivers must have done less than three rounds at the Formula Regional level (including FRECA and Formula Regional Asia). Concerning the Teams’ Championship, most of the teams will line-up three cars, or even four, while some will have only two. To keep the championship fair, only the two best-finishing cars are eligible to score points.
Header photo credit: FRECA
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