Preparations for the fifth instalment of the Formula 4 South East Asia (F4/SEA) Championship – certified by FIA were well underway on Thursday at the Buriram United International Circuit in Thailand. The young drivers spent a full day testing ahead of the weekend’s proceedings to learn and familiarise themselves with the 4.4554km clockwise circuit.
The packed test schedule was designed to help the young drivers; particularly the debutants in the F4/SEA championship get to grips with their race machines as well as the circuit’s characteristics.
Amongst the newest circuits in the South East Asian region, the straightforward circuit layout features 12-turns with the only opportunities for overtaking on Turn 2 and the final corner. In addition to the need for driving precision, another primary aspect for the drivers is having to manage the tyres in the intense dry heat, with track temperatures capable of soaring to over 50º Celsius.
Amongst those taking part in the collective test session were local hopefuls Worawong Komarakul (THA, Car #7) and Kane Shepherd (THA, Car #34), who were also joined by young debutant, Daniel Hibbitt from China (CHN, Car #25).
Worawong Komarakul (THA, Car #7): “After spending a whole day testing, overall I feel pretty good as it is a fund I think it is really good that we get a lot of track time, as it gives us the opportunity to really find and work on the areas where we need to improve.”
Kane Shepherd (THA, Car #34): “To be able to spend the entire day getting to know my car was quite fun. It was a long day with a lot of track time, which is really importantly, especially for me. After the first session, I could see the areas where I needed to improve and through the day, I was becoming more comfortable with the car and the track.”
Akash Gowda (IND, Car #33): “Actually, I really like this track as it is a nice, fast with a good flow to it. This is one of those circuits that you need to be quite precise. A small mistake will cost you a lot here, so it is important to get every sector absolutely spot on.”
Daniel Hibbitt (CHN, Car #25): “We did the trackwalk with our driver coaches on Tuesday, which helped give us an indication of the circuit’s characteristics. Today, we were able to use what we saw and apply it to when we are driving the car. There were a lot of sessions, which means a lot of time for us to really get used to the track.”
The event’s bumper schedule will commence on Friday, 6 January with practice, qualifying and two races. Three more races will be contested on Saturday, 7 January with two more billed for Sunday, 8 January.
Another Star Driver award trophy will be up for grabs for the most successful driver from the weekend. With the overall event champion scored on a reverse to the F4/SEA championship points, drivers aim to score the lowest points to be in the running for the coveted trophy, presented after the final race on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the top 10 drivers earn FIA F4 championship points, which are aligned to follow the F1 points scoring system with the top seven championship drivers eligible to also earn valuable FIA Super License points at the end of the season.
The FIA single-operated F4/SEA championship – certified by FIA is one of 12 worldwide championships in the FIA’s F4 global format. F4/SEA is uniquely designed to help harness and develop Asia’s young motorsports talent through a cost-effective programme. The F4/SEA is the first step on the FIA’s streamlined ladder to developing professional careers in the sport.