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  • Writer's pictureRACERS

Maite Cáceres kicks-off 2024 with a podium and fastest lap

"It's a strong step starting into 2024" - Maite Cáceres' racing season was off to a stunning start as the Uruguayan secured her first podium in F4 machinery, as well as a fastest lap and a start from the first row, in the Formula FARA round at Homestead, in preparation for her F4 US campaign.

Maite Caceres, International Motorsport, Formula FARA, Homestead Miami 2024
Photo credits: InterMS

Having announced her participation in the next F4 US Championship, the Uruguayan Maite Cáceres returned to the US to start her preparation for the upcoming season.

Her participation in the Formula FARA round at Homestead Miami last weekend turned out to be an outstanding step forward for the former F1 Academy driver, in a breakthrough result that represented a very promising sign for the rest of her racing season.

Cáceres, 21, has raced in her home country as well as in the US in karting before making her debut in race cars, and entered the 2022 F4 US Championship with International Motorsport. In a 20-car field, she made big improvements throughout the year, as she built her confidence and learnt the platform. With also a few rounds in the USF Juniors towards the end of the year, progress was noticeable.

In 2023 Maite went on to secure a spot on the grid of the inaugural F1 Academy championship. With no previous knowledge of the car - the new-gen Tatuus F4 - as well as the European tracks, Cáceres' mission was to learn and progress at every opportunity - and she did just that, eventually scoring points with consistency at the end of the season.

Her return to American soil is an opportunity to continue her development in formula cars on familiar territory, as she joins forces once again with International Motorsport.

The Formula FARA appearance was therefore a great opportunity to get back behind the wheel and find the rhythm, as several teams and drivers gathered in Florida for the event that served as pre-season preparation.

In testing, Maite proved to be already up to speed and consistently ran in the top two; despite not using new tyres - which made for a more challenging fine tuning of the car's setup - her speed clearly suggested that the Uruguayan would be battling at the front. Cáceres' progression was again on display in the 30 minute qualifying session, where she clocked the second fastest time, one tenth away from pole position, despite a small brake issue.

"In the test we were doing P1 and P2 while testing a lot of things", she told us. "Qualifying went great - a tenth and a half from pole. I had a brake issue, if it wasn't for that I think I would have gotten the pole because my performance was really good all over the weekend", she explained.

Maite Caceres, International Motorsport, Formula FARA, Homestead Miami 2024
Photo credits: InterMS

The stellar start of her weekend therefore translated into a front row for race 1 on Sunday morning, alongside compatriot Irazu. At lights out, Maite initially had to defend second place, but having successfully done so at turn 1, she immediately hunted down Irazu throughout the first lap. Unfortunately, a mistake at turn 12 saw Maite running wide and losing two places. Although she had a good save through the grass, she had to charge back.

Fully determined, Cáceres put pressure on Benites and completed a great pass for third at turn 12 a few laps later. The battle had cost her seven seconds to the leading duo, but once in clear air, she cut the gap by almost a second per lap and eventually picked up second place after a great move around the outside of turn 6 on the final lap.

Her recovery drive ended in her first podium finish in F4 machinery - a superb result which wasn't far enough from a realistic victory.

"Race 1 was a bit of a heartbreak because I started from P2 and I lost two positions for a mistake on the first lap", Maite explained. "I think I was seven seconds behind but I could reach them - and I was catching up to the leader, but it was only a 14 laps race. But I'm really happy overall."

Later in the afternoon, when the second race was scheduled, conditions dramatically changed as a rain shower complicated things in the reverse grid race.

"It started to rain pretty heavily for Race 2 and it was an inverted grid, so I was starting I think P11", Maite explained. While she initially struggled for grip on the tricky asphalt of Homestead, she was still able to charge through the field and gained five spots, slotting into sixth place. In the second half of the race, Cáceres was by far the fastest driver on track and recorded a 1m39 lap with 12 minutes to go, as she tried to catch a group of cars ahead.

With three laps to go, she set what would remain the fastest lap of the race in 1:38.007 and gained over 5 seconds to the leaders, eventually taking the chequered flag in sixth place - completing a widely positive weekend that offers a glimpse of her progress.

"I made up five positions and got P6 as well as fastest lap", she summed up. "I really struggled with the wet conditions - and the Homestead track has this pavement that I wasn't used to, so it was a lot tricky for me to get the grip of it. I never raced in this rain and I could see nothing."

"But it was all good learning and I'm happy with this pre-season", she added. "I think that it's a strong step starting into 2024."

Although it was mainly a training opportunity for her main programme, her pace suggests that Cáceres is building the foundations for an exciting season.

Her continuous efforts are paying off - and the Uruguayan lioness - as depicted on her helmet - now aims to build momentum.

Maite Caceres, International Motorsport, Formula FARA, Homestead Miami 2024
Photo credits: InterMS



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