F4 NACAM remains in a state of transition as it continues to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and a change of promoter to Copa Notiauto. As the first round of the 2023 championship gets underway this weekend at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, Feeder Series reviews the teams and drivers to watch out for.
By Maria Clara Castro
Those who think that the COVID-19 pandemic no longer has any effect on the racing world might want to reconsider their thoughts. F4 NACAM had to replace 2021’s events with non-championship rounds and change promoter to Copa Notiauto before the series resumed in 2022. It’s safe to say that the championship is still recovering from the aftermath of these drastic changes.
Despite this, there have been some improvements when we compare the start of last year’s season to this year’s. With a few hours to go until the championship gets underway, there are currently seven drivers on the grid – one more than in 2022, which saw six drivers announced before the first race.
However, F4 NACAM lacks an updated presence on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, as well as on its website, which has been ‘under repair’ for more than a year. Information about the series is mainly available on Copa Notiauto’s website and social media pages, plus the drivers’ and teams’ posts on Instagram.
It is therefore fair to say that the focus has been on the category’s technicalities. This means the main worry relies on putting the cars on track, making sure all the procedures follow the ones determined by FIA, and supporting other series on the Copa Notiauto roster.
Rounds 1-3 – Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez (15–16 April)
Rounds 4-6 – Autódromo de Querétaro (20–21 May)
Rounds 7-9 – Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez (30 June–1 July)
Rounds 10-12 – Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez (4–5 August)
Rounds 13-15 – Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez (2–3 September)
Rounds 16-18 – Autódromo Miguel E. Abed (7–8 October)
Rounds 19-20 – Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez (28–29 October)
Unlike 2022, Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez will hold the opening round of the season. The 2023 calendar features eight rounds and the drivers will appear in Mexico City another five times throughout the year.
It is no surprise that Round 7 must be the one everyone is looking forward the most, because that’s when F4 NACAM will be on the F1 support bill. This is sure to be positive for both the category’s image and the drivers’ visibility.
On 20-21 May, it will be time to head to Queretáro, the ten-corner racing track which will host Rounds 4-6 of the championship. This should be an interesting weekend, since the majority of the grid haven’t raced there yet.
The weekend starts off with two 30-minute free practice sessions followed by a 20-minute open qualifying session. The driver who sets the fastest time in qualifying starts Race 1 from pole position, with the driver who sets the second-best lap time in qualifying starting on pole for Race 3.
With Race 2, things are a little different: the starting grid is determined by reversing 50 per cent of the finishing order of Race 1. However, an exception is always made when F4 NACAM races alongside F1, which reduces the race weekend from three races to two.
The points allocation for all races is the same as that in F1.
Teams and drivers
RAM Racing is the largest team on the F4 NACAM grid this year, with four drivers part of their 2023 line-up. They have had significant success in the championship; last year’s drivers’ champion, Juan Felipe Pedraza, achieved eight wins and five pole positions with the team.
The Colombian driver now faces USF Juniors as his latest career challenge. This is due to one of the category rules, which forbids previous F4 NACAM champions to race another season.
Although Pedraza leaves, the Colombian flag will not disappear from the series. Pedro Juan Moreno, winner of the 6 Hours of Bogotá, returns to F4 NACAM with RAM Racing after competing in a non-championship round with the team last year.
Moreno is joined at RAM Racing by his fellow countryman David Estebán Cardenas, who will be making his open-wheel debut.
RAM Racing will also feature Mexican driver Arturo ‘Artie’ Flores, who embarks on his second season in F4 NACAM. Flores made his debut in Round 4 of last year’s championship and left Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez with one win and two podiums. Having showed himself to be fast on his first appearance, he returns to the championship hungry for the title.
“It will definitely be an important weekend because we are coming from a long break,” said Flores in his announcement. “But all this time I have been preparing hard, both physically, mentally and of course on the simulator. So I’m ready to fight for the win.”
Flores’ compatriot, Alexandra Mohnhaupt – known for being the first ever female driver to win a race in FIA F4 back in 2018 – re-joins the F4 NACAM grid for 2023, also with RAM Racing.
“I am more than ready for my comeback to the racing tracks. Let’s do this!” said Mohnhaupt. This will be her fourth season in F4 NACAM, which makes her the most experienced driver on the grid.
If Mohnhaupt manages to convert the knowledge into results, she might be one to keep in your radar. Pay particular attention to her performance in Puebla; last time she raced there, she secured two wins.
RAM Racing is not the only team to come up with a multi-driver line-up, as Richards Motorsports have entered Dewey Richards and Diego de la Torre, who claimed two podiums in three rounds during last year’s championship.
With a whole season under their belt, the Richards Motorsports drivers might have what it takes to turn their raw speed into trophies and results.
Still the youngest driver in the grid, 16-year-old Cristian Cantú enters the season with a lot of enthusiasm. He finished 2022 on a high after claiming third place in Mexico City and the momentum appears not to have waned.
In a press conference held in Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez last Friday, Cantú said, “I am very happy that this is happening, I am very grateful. Since I was five years old I have insisted a lot on racing and now I can do it professionally.”
Where to watch
The Saturday race as well as both Sunday races will be streamed on Notiauto Racing Youtube channel. Qualifying and free practice can usually be followed on Race Hero live timing coverage.
In order to keep up to date on what’s happening, Feeder Series Americas will be providing coverage throughout the weekend.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article stated that free practices are 60 minutes long and qualifying sessions are 30 minutes long. They are 30 and 20 minutes long respectively.
Header photo credit: F4 NACAM / Copa Notiauto
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