Lola Lovinfosse shines in home qualifying
“Everything was clear in my mind” – At her home race, Lola Lovinfosse had a remarkable Saturday to claim her best qualifying result to date: the 17-year-old French driver will start from the second row in both race 1 and race 3.
French racer Lola Lovinfosse, 17, is at her first home race in F4 machinery and impressed with a remarkable Saturday at Circuit Paul Ricard, qualifying in third place in both Q1 and Q2.
Lovinfosse scored a podium in the reverse grid race at the opening weekend in Red Bull Ring, and often showed good speed and charging races, but has struggled to qualifying higher up the field – also after a few technical difficulties such as at Barcelona, where she was forced to recover from the back in all races.
Nevertheless, a fifth place at Montmelo and two more point-scoring finishes at Monza meant that the young Frenchwoman entered her home race – the final European leg of the season – on a positive trend.
Straight from the first practice session, Lovinfosse was close to the top five – which she would grab in the second session, merely three tenths off the pace setter, Léna Bühler. Coming into qualifying, hopes were high and Lola knew she had the chance to do something special, on a special weekend.
“I wanted to have nobody in front and nobody behind, I was super focused”, Lola recalls, having done a good preparation before the session, where she typically isolates herself with a headset and focuses on the task ahead. “Everything was clear in my mind”, she continues.
“The team did a mega job. I did both qualifying sessions alone, and had both my fastest laps in the last lap. I just gave it everything, pushed 100%.”
In one of the closest qualifying in the series, the top four were separated by 71 thousandths of a second. Lola clocked a 1:27.306 that put her on the second row of the grid, in third place alongside championship contender Léna Bühler.
“It’s really tight between the first eight drivers, it’s like half a tenth. But I felt super good in the car and I’m really confident for tomorrow”.
In Q2, Lovinfosse was aiming to repeat the performance. After her second run, she had moved into the top five once again, but was slipping down the order when times started to drop fast in the closing stages. With a brilliant last lap, Lovinfosse snatched third across the chequered flag, amidst her cheering family and friends on the rooftop of the Le Castellet pit building.
The whole Mercantile Campos Racing team had a successful day, showing great pace with all three cars.
“We did a clear step forward”, Lola explains. “Maite did a top-10 in qualifying, and Nerea was P2 and P5. We all improved and the car feels really good.”
With a good amount of family and friends – as well as a new helmet livery in French colours – Lovinfosse was able to translate this support into a fully-focused effort on Saturday, claiming her personal best result in qualifying. She will now be aiming to do the same on Sunday, with three races scheduled on the same day.
“We have a lot of people with the French flag, and everyone in my family is here for me this weekend”, she adds. “It’s really nice and it feels good to do well on track, with my best result so far in front of everyone.”