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  • Writer's pictureIGOR LAERTE

Cecília Rabelo makes history with double pole position, equals personal best in F4 Brazil

Cecília Rabelo, 16, made history in Brazilian F4 by claiming pole position in both Race 1 and 3 at Interlagos, in the support event for the F1 Brazilian GP, becoming the first woman to secure pole in the series. She then equalled her best finish of the season after a great comeback after an issue at the start.

Cecília Rabelo F4 Brasil
Photo credits: BRB F4 Brasil

F4 Brasil returned to the Interlagos Circuit once again this year for the fifth round of the 2023 season, in what turned out to be a very special weekend in the series' history - starting with the fact that for the first time, the single-seater competition was part of the support bill for the F1 Brazilian Grand Prix. This allowed the young drivers to live a unique experience, by taking part in the main competition in the world of motorsport - in a "sacred temple" of the sport and for Brazilian people.

The second remarkable event happened on the track: Cecília Rabelo - aged 16, became the first woman in history to achieve pole position in F4 Brazil - and she did it twice! After some changes to the schedule due to the severe rains that hit São Paulo on Friday, the qualifying session was held on the morning of Saturday, November 4th. After a hectic session in tricky grip conditions, Rabelo recorded the fastest times of the session, taking first place on the starting grid for races 1 and 3.

"I'm very happy! We didn't expect this result here today."

With the track wet at the beginning of the session, only Cecília chose to use wet tires, and the strategy allowed her to dominate, recording the fastest lap of 1:48.064. Thus, the Cavaleiro Sports driver secured both pole positions.

"We had a different strategy than everyone else and went out with the wet tire, as the track was still very wet. I managed to do good laps and it was the right result, as the session was finished when the drivers who came out of slicks were starting to turn in good laps." - said Cecília after the session.

The other female racer on the grid - Rafaela Ferreira, also got a great result for the first race, taking P3 on the grid. In race 3 she would start a little further back, in 8th place.

Race 1

With high expectations on a circuit that always provides great racing action, the first F4 Brazil race at Interlagos had a dramatic start. Unfortunately, pole sitter Cecília Rabelo had a troubled getaway and ended up losing the lead to Vinícius Tessaro, as Rafaela Ferreira took second. Matheus Comparatto also stood still and was hit by Lucca Zucchini, who was unable to avoid him. The safety car had therefore to be deployed for the first time of the weekend.

Rafaela Ferreira. Cecília Rabelo. F4 Brasil
Photo credits: BRB F4 Brasil

At the restart, guest driver Matheus Ferreira - who is part of the Alpine Academy and currently races in Italian F4 - overtook Rafaela Ferreira and took second place; Rafaela then struggled for pace and dropped a few more places to 10th.

On the sixth lap, two TMG Racing drivers were fighting for a place in the top 10 - Rafaela Ferreira and Luan Lopes. While defending, Rafaela and her teammate unfortunately made contact. With damage to the front wing of his car, Lopes had to pit and the safety car was deployed again.

At the second restart, there were just under nine minutes remaining and Matheus Ferreira overtook Vinícius Tessaro in turn 1 - the S do Senna, to take the lead and secure the victory. Despite the problems at the start, Cecília Rabelo made a great recovery throughout the race and crossed the finish line in seventh. Rafaela held position until the end and finished in P9. However, she would later receive a grid penalty for race 2, for causing the collision with Luan Lopes.

Race 2

With the reverse grid system, race 2 had João Tesser as pole sitter and Cecília Rabelo was again on the front row, in second. Rafaela Ferreira would start in P9, but with the penalty, she lined up in 13th position.

Just as had happened hours before, the second race of the day also had drama in the first moments: Tesser was stationary on the main straight. Alexandre Machado then took the lead and Fernando Barrichello moved up to second place. Rabelo lost a few places and fell to 12th place.

Cecília Rabelo F4 Brasil
Photo credits: BRB F4 Brasil

After falling to the back of the grid, Tesser managed to recover and overtook Rafaela Ferreira and Cecília Rabelo, who fell to P12 and P13 respectively.

Both the female racers fought the whole race in the attempt to recover, but couldn't eventually catch the cars ahead and kept positions until the end.

In the lead, Machado managed to open a comfortable gap over Barrichello and achieved his first victory in F4 Brazil.

Race 3

In the last race of the weekend - one which will certainly be unforgettable for the 13 drivers - Cecília Rabelo started once again ahead of the whole pack and Rafaela Ferreira was in 8th place. When the lights went out, Rabelo had a little hesitation and was overtaken by Fernando Barrichello and Vinícius Tessaro, falling to 3rd. She completed the first lap in P5.

Shortly afterwards, there was the first incident of the race, and the safety car was deployed for the first time in the race. While defending herself in a fight for 5th position, Cecília Rabelo ended up making contact with Alexandre Machado, who hit the guard rail. Rabelo's machine was luckily undamaged and she continued in the race.

After the restart, Rafaela Ferreira fought in the midfield and defended from competitors' attempts to overtake. At the beginning of lap 9, Cecília Rabelo was hit by João Tesser while braking into turn 1: she unfortunately hit the tire barriers and thus, the safety car was back ahead of the leader, neutralizing the action in a heartbreaking moment for the two-time pole sitter.

In the final laps of the race, Matheus Ferreira managed to open a 3-second gap over Barrichello and achieved his second victory of the weekend. Rafaela Ferreira had a consistent performance, distancing herself from the drivers behind, and secured P7.

Rafaela Ferreira. F4 Brasil
Photo credits: BRB F4 Brasil

With only 1 round remaining to the season-finale, the Brazilian F4 drivers standings has Vinícius Tessaro at the top, with 197 points. Rafaela Ferreira is in 14th place - with 24 points and Cecília Rabelo is in 15th place, with 17 points. The overall runner-up - Matheus Comparatto, secured the title among rookies and Ferreira moved up to 3° place - with 158 points. The young drivers will return to the track on December 17th, once again at the Interlagos Circuit.



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