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15-year-old Joanne Ciconte makes F4 debut with P2 in AFO

Updated: Feb 14

"I learnt so many different things and overall I was very happy with my performance and results." – Girls On Track - Rising Stars finalist Joanne Ciconte successfully made her debut in F4 and took second place in all three races of the Australian Formula Open round at Sandown International Raceway.


Joanne Ciconte, Tim Macro Racing, Australian Formula Open
Photo courtesy: @JoanneCiconteRacing

15-year-old Australian Joanne Ciconte successfully made her first starts in F4 and took second place in all three races of the Australian Formula Open round held at Sandown International Raceway, on the popular Shannon's Speed Series package.


Ciconte's results are particularly interesting given the fact that the young racer had to learn a new car and tyre combination – and battled with some technical gremlins on Sunday.


The Melbourne-based driver made worldwide headlines last year, as she was selected among the four finalists of the fourth and final edition of the FIA-supported Girls On Track-Rising Stars, which has scouted some of the world's top young female drivers in recent years.

Ciconte started karting at 9 and progressed up the ranks of the Australian karting scene; she won the 2023 Pink Plate title and achieved a top 10 on debut in the highly competitive KA3 Junior Light class of the Australian Karting Championship.


Such accomplishments gained her the invitation at the final stages of the Girls On Track - Rising Stars program in Franciacorta, Italy, where the shortlisted drivers from all over the world were assessed through a series of on-track and off-track tests. Joanne emerged as one of the four finalists and attended the final stage in November at Ferrari's headquarters in Maranello and at the famous Fiorano track.


Run by the prestigious Ferrari Driver Academy in collaboration with FIA, Scuola Federale ACI and Prema Racing, the program gave a chance to the young drivers to prove themselves at the highest level and test F4 machinery with invaluable training and coaching.


"At 14 I was accepted as a driver to compete in the Girls On Track Rising Stars Program along with FDA", Joanne told us. "That was a huge step in my life and a whole different experience that really helped to accelerate my progress to Formula and ultimately pave a way to the open wheeler class that I’ve always aspired to race in."


The programme has inspired girls in karting by providing them with international opportunities – and has been a driving force for young karting drivers to move into single seaters. When the opportunity presented itself to contest her first race in cars, Ciconte was therefore thrilled to start her new journey.


"When the opportunity came about to participate in the first round of the Australian Formula Open with Tim Macro Racing we thought this would be a great chance to get our first race completed", she continued. "Sandown was a great first race experience, I learnt so many different things and overall I was very happy with my performance and results."


The series is currently the only platform for entry-level open wheel racing and features classes for F3 (AFO1), TRS (AF02) and F4 (AFO4) machinery.


Adapting to the Mygale F4 car was therefore her first challenge of the weekend: "In Europe I drove the Gen2 Tatuus chassis on Pirelli tires," she said. "It was a beautiful combination to drive and I adapted to it very quickly. At Sandown I drove the Mygale chassis on the GiTi tire which was quite a different experience and required more effort and skill to drive fast. I loved both tires and look forward to testing and racing on them again."


Joanne Ciconte, Tim Macro Racing, Australian Formula Open
Photo courtesy: @JoanneCiconteRacing

The Mygale M14 car, powered by a 1.6L turbo engine, was prepared by Tim Macrow Racing/Motorkote and sponsored by Kaboodle Kitchen.

Albeit a learning-oriented weekend, Joanne showed good speed and promising pace in both qualifying and the races. A red flag during her fast lap ended up hampering her starting position, but Ciconte still managed third place in class despite having to manage traffic in the remaining laps.


"In race 1 I started to understand how to get the most from the Mygale chassis and GiTi combination and improved my lap times greatly," Joanne recalled. "This helped to gain a position and finished second."


On Sunday, high temperatures proved to be an extra challenge for Ciconte, who nevertheless delivered once again solid results in the remaining races.

"I had to deal with the car having malfunctions from the extreme hot weather which hindered the performance for race 2 and 3" – she explained. "Still I managed to maintain second in both race 2 and 3 but it was difficult for me to show the best I could."


"I kept pushing through and really worked on managing the problem as best I could and collected great points towards the championship which I am currently sitting second in.

This weekend really taught me how to cope with many situations and I’m looking forward for more races to come!"


Strong of her Girls On Track experience and following encouraging results in her car racing debut at Sandown, Joanne Ciconte is now determined to continue the pursuit of her dream.

"To have the opportunity to compete in formula racing has been an amazing experience and a significant step towards my goal of becoming Australia’s first female Formula 1 driver."


Her 2024 plans will be focusing on more F4 outings as well as fitness and simulation training.

"I am committed to pushing myself to the limit and competing professionally at the highest level."


Joanne Ciconte, Tim Macro Racing, Australian Formula Open
Photo courtesy: @JoanneCiconteRacing

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