Spanish F4 has a new 2020 calendar. We spoke with Swiss racer Lena Bühler, the new addition to the championship that targets the W Series.
RFEDA, the Spanish Auto Sport Federation, announced last week a revised calendar for the upcoming season of the F4 Spain, the most important national single-seater championship, as the COVID-19 crisis had obviously forced to postpone its initial schedule.
The Iberian championship emerged last year as a new real stepping stone for promising female talents in the European formula ladder, as it provided the exciting battle between Belén García, Nerea Martí and Irina Sidorkova in its "Trofeo Feminino".
Several Formula 4 championships featured a Female Trophy - with polarizing opinions among the female racers themselves - but the Spanish one certainly proved to be the most competitive one.
"I think it's about promoting women in motorsport and for that we don't have to give any different explanations." - told us Belén García, the winner of last year's edition.
"It makes us gain visibility, which is the same as for W Series, and I think just for that reason it's a good initiative."
Female Trophy aside, Belen, Nerea and Irina impressed also compared to their male counterparts, often finishing well within the points and, ultimately, claiming an overall 1-2 in the opening round in Navarra, where Garcia won the second race and became the first ever female Formula 4 winner in Europe.
After the tests in Almeria with the Tatuus F3 car, all the three ladies graduated to W Series after one single season of formula racing, proving the quality of their development in the Spanish Formula 4.
The revised calendar includes seven rounds, starting from the 18-19 July event in Navarra. The series will then move to France for its only non-Spanish round, as the Le Castellet Formula 1 venue will host the second triple-header weekend. After Jerez, Valencia, Aragon and Montmelo, the championship is set to have its season finale at Jarama, Madrid, with a date pending confirmation.
If the 2019 season brought the Spanish series under the spotlight for its excellent value for money, we eagerly await the start of the 2020 campaign to follow the rise of new female talents. One of the first drivers to be signed by the reigning champion team Drivex was Swiss driver Lena Bühler, in what will be her first season in single-seaters.
“I am very happy to welcome Lena Bühler as our first driver for the 2020 Spanish F4 season. She proved to have a great race pace during the winter tests. I am looking forward to the start of the season." - commented Miguel Ángel de Castro, team manager of the team that brought Franco Colapinto to the title in 2019.
“Women are gaining a lot of space in the world of motorsport and at Drivex we are all very proud to work with female drivers. We want to help them achieve great results.” - he added, back in mid-February. Then the COVID-19 crisis put the whole world on hold.
As the situation remains globally unpredictable, European countries are entering a restart phase that involves industries such as motorsport as well. While international series - heavily dependant on travel - are taking a bigger toll, national championships are currently back to testing, eyeing a return to racing with safety precautionary measures in shorter times.
With few seats still to be announced, Lena Bühler is so far the only girl on the Spanish F4 grid. We had the chance to chat and get to know her a bit better, as we can't wait to see the talented Swiss driver finally on track.
"I am a determined woman and driver, and I always try to do my best in everything I do, both in life and in motorsport"
I started paying attention to Lena Bühler's first steps in motorsport as she was racing in the Swiss karting championship. She competed for Swiss powerhouse team Spirit Racing, managed by Ken and Cyndie Allemann, another star female racing driver in the first decade of the 2000s.
"I can say that I am a woman and a very passionate driver" - this is how Lena describes herself.
"I have done everything to achieve my big dream and step by step I try to get higher and higher with hard work and determination. I am a determined woman and driver, and I always try to do my best in everything I do, both in life and in motorsport".
Lena's results quickly suggested that she had what it takes to impress in the uber competitive world of international karting and, after some remarkable performances in the Swiss championship and a victory in the female class of the karting 24h of Le Mans, the young lady went on to compete in some of the most important karting international competitions, including the World Championship, before finally moving her first steps in single seaters.
"I have carried out several tests from the mid season (June 2019) in a single-seater with several teams and different circuits. Of course it's a big change from karting to single-seater. It makes rolling to learn and evolve and that's what I did, each one is always better and the last one was very positive".
Speaking about her experience of formula cars so far, the young Swiss also tested in the Italian series, which employs the same Tatuus F4 machinery, before ultimately opting for the Spanish championship.
"In the beginning we wanted to participate in the Formula 4 Italy championship, that's why I tested with a few teams that take part in this championship. It is a substantial budget, so we headed for the Formula 4 championship in Spain, as the budget is lower and it is a very good championship, also recognized by the FIA and at the moment it is developing very well. I am delighted to drive for the 2019 winners in the Drivex Academy team."
"This year is important to me and I will do everything to rank myself the highest in the standings. We are waiting for the first tests and then the first race"
After such a long wait away from racetracks, Lena is now more focused than ever, certainly aware that she now has the chance to match her predecessor, Belén García, and fight for a seat in the all-female W Series in the future.
"Yes, this is one of my objectives for the year 2021" - she says. A testament to a championship that in just one season has already changed the perspective of many female upcoming talents, providing them with a platform and the inspiration to reach their goals.
"This year is important to me and I will do everything to rank myself the highest in the standings."
2020 Spanish F4 revised calendar
Navarra - 18/19 July
Le Castellet - 22/23 August
Jerez - 19/20 September
Valencia - 26/27 September
Motorland Aragón - 31 October/1 November
Barcellona - 14/15 November
Jarama - TBD