Pierre Gasly and British F4 driver Ayrton Simmons starred at a Goodwood Festival of Speed demonstration. The pair showcased their F4 and Red Bull Racing Formula 1 cars at the event, with the Frenchman praising the FIA‘s motorsport ladder.
Gasly, a well-known face on the junior ladder, currently races in the GP2 Series where he sits eighth overall after a tough few rounds. The Frenchman went into the year as one of the favourites to win the title – even leading after the opening round – only to drop back.
Like many of his compatriot’s, Gasly has worked his way through the junior series, starting in the French F4 Championship. While not part of the FIA’s homologated Formula 4 category, the series acts as an introduction for 15-year-olds to single-seater racing.
Similar to its British counterpart, French F4 also runs a 1600cc engine, albeit supplied by Renault. He finished his first and only season in third, before quickly working up the Formula Renault ladder.
“It brings back lots of good memories seeing the Formula 4 car here. It wasn’t that long ago when I was racing in F4. I was 15 and really excited to step up to Formula cars from karting,” explained Gasly who claimed four victories and three podiums in the category.
“Starting in F4 for me was the best option because it’s the easiest way to learn the basics with single-seaters. When you are a rookie aged 15 or 16 and starting your single-seater career it’s a good place to begin. It’s a powerful car with 160bhp and at that age it’s really impressive.”
Gasly insisted that F4 was necessary for young drivers who needed to adapt to later machinery. “The races are different to karting. The way you need to overtake. The way you need to manage your race. Everything is different and I think it’s the best way to start.
“With these cars you can really feel the downforce and it’s good to understand the performance that it gives you because as you step up to higher series the downforce increases. All the feelings you get from the car when you start in F4 increase with the speed [as you go up the FIA ladder].”
Also present at the demonstration was Ayrton Simmons. The 15-year-old is currently in his first year of car racing and has already recorded his first rookie win.
He said: “Having the F1 car next to me and meeting Pierre is really exciting. It’s been great to get some insight into F1. As a top team reserve driver, Pierre gave me a good overview of what it takes to move up the ranks.”
“I want to focus on the F4 British Championship […] The series develops you into a quick driver with initiatives like the MSA Driver Coaching programme. You work with your engineers and the MSA coaches to improve your performance.”
Gasly himself didn’t compete in the FIA’s recommended ladder championships, choosing instead to run in the alternative Formula Renault series. Now in GP2, he’s recorded 39 super licence points over his five year career. In order to qualify for F1 on points alone Gasly will need a strong result this season.