Positive results for Rafaela Ferreira and Cecília Rabelo in the fourth round of the Brazilian F4
The 4th round of the Brazilian F4 at Goiânia featured the return of Cecília Rabelo to the racetracks after an injury and had Rafaela Ferreira equalling her best result of the season - as well as finishing all 3 races in the top 10.
The Ayrton Senna Circuit, in Goiânia, hosted the 4th round of the Brazilian F4 between the 25th and 27th of August - and the results were very positive for the two female racers on the grid. The first good news was the return of Cecília Rabelo to the series. The 16-year-old driver had been out of the two previous rounds due to a shoulder injury, but now completely recovered, she was able to return to the #98 machine of the Cavaleiro Sport team.
Another positive point was the progress shown by Rafaela Ferreira. The 18-year-old TMG Racing driver equalled her best result of the season, finishing race 3 in sixth position - in addition to finishing the other two contests in the top 10, as she added important points to her tally.
The first track activities were the 3 extra-practice sessions on Thursday where the drivers had the opportunity to get back in the rthytm, followed by free practice on Friday. And they all showed evolution over the course of the day, significantly improving their lap times. Among the facts that stood out is the close competition throughout the field in FP1 - where the 13 drivers recorded their best laps within the same second.
Ferreira had her best result in FP2, as she was 10th fastest with a lap of 1:26.011. Despite having placed 13th in the 5 sessions, Rabelo also reduced the gap with a 1:25.908 clocked in FP1. It's important to remember that she spent about 4 months out of a car and her participation in the sessions had as main objective the re-adaptation to the machine after the injury.
The first race had Álvaro Cho on pole position, with Lucca Zucchini alongside him. Rafaela Ferreira and Cecília Rabelo lined up on P12 and P13 respectively. Cho got off to a good start, holding onto the lead; at the first corner, Nelson Neto overtook Zucchini and took second place. Matheus Comparatto tried to attack him, but ended up leaving the track and dropping to P10.
Rafaela Ferreira gained a position in the first laps against Arthur Pavie, and Cecília Rabelo kept 13th. At the beginning of lap 4, Alexandre Machado went off in the first meters of the main straight and dropped to 12th place, as he was overtaken by Ferreira and Pavie. However, Pavie put pressure in the following laps until he re-took tenth from Rafaela Ferreira.
Before the end, one of Rafaela Ferreira's teammates at TMG Racing - Mateus Callejas - had a gearbox problems and was forced to return to the pits, eventually retiring from the race. Thus, Ferreira returned to the 10th position, where she cross the finish line. Cecília Rabelo also gained a position and finished 12th. Álvaro Cho led from start to finish and won the first race of the weekend, with Nelson Neto in second and Lucca Zucchini in third.
The second race on Saturday had just 12 cars on the starting grid: Mateus Callejas had retired from Race 1 with gearbox problems and did not have his car fixed in time. Matheus Comparatto from Bassani F4 was the pole sitter, Rafaela Ferreira started in 10th and Cecília Rabelo in 12th.
When the lights went out, Lucca Zucchini had his #9 car coming to a stop on track, but managed to put it in motion after a few seconds. Comparatto kept the first position and João Tesser was pressured by Vinícius Tessaro and Fefo Barrichello for P2. Still on the first lap, Alexandre Machado and Cecília Rabelo made contact and Machado spun, stopping outside the track.
Then, while trying to pass Barrichello, Álvaro Cho lost control of the car and ended up spinning. He managed to rejoin, but the safety car had to be deployed for Alexandre Machado's car to be retrieved by the stewards. Amidst all the action, Rafaela Ferreira moved up to P8 and Cecília Rabelo to P9. However, after the restart Rabelo received a drive-through penalty for the incident with Machado.
Rafaela Ferreira remained in 8th position for the next few laps, but was caught by Álvaro Cho and later by Lucca Zucchini. She dropped back to P10 - the position in which she finished race 2 - won by Comparatto. João Tesser and Vinícius Tessaro completed the podium. The penalty ended up compromising Cecília Rabelo's result, who finished 11th.
As in race 2, the last race of the 4th round of the Brazilian F4 had 12 cars on the track, with Mateus Callejas missing out again. The starting grid saw a 1-2 from Cavaleiro Sport Team, with Lucca Zucchini in pole position and Vinícius Tessaro completing the front row. In her best starting position for the weekend, Rafaela Ferreira started in 9th and Cecília Rabelo completed the grid in 12th.
Tessaro took the lead and Álvaro Cho also overtook Zucchini, who dropped to P3. As in the formation lap, Cecília Rabelo had her #98 machine stopped on track again, but she managed to get back underway and start the race. Nelson Neto - who started in 5th - went off track and dropped to 11th. Rafaela Ferreira lost a position to her teammate João Tesser and then settled in P9.
On 5th lap, while fighting for P7, Arthur Pavie and João Tesser touched and both suffered damage: Tesser lost the front wing of his car and Pavie got a puncture. With the two having to pit, Rafaela Ferreira and Cecília Rabelo gained positions, rising to P7 and P10 respectively. And that wasn't the only incident of the day.
On lap 9, TMG Racing's Luan Lopes tried to overtake Lucca Zucchini, but ended up hitting his opponent. When trying to make the move, the right front wheel of Lopes' car touched Zucchini's left rear wheel - launching him over the car of the Caveleiro Sports driver, who lost his rear wing. The safety car had to be deployed and the race was neutralized for Luan Lopes' car to be removed. As it would not be possible to quickly repair the damage, Zucchini also had to retire from the race.
At the restart, Rafaela Ferreira had moved up to 6th and Cecília Rabelo had also managed to avoid troubles, moving up to ninth. Vinícius Tessaro maintained the lead until the end and won for the fifth time of the season, followed by Álvaro Cho in second and Fefo Barrichello in third.
Ferreira crossed the finish line in P6 - repeating her best result in the season, which had been a 6th place in the first round at Interlagos. Rabelo also got her best result in 2023, placing 7th and adding important points after being out of competitions in the previous two rounds.
Vinicius Tessaro took the lead in the championship, with 175 points - 23 more than Matheus Comparato. Rafaela Ferreira moved up one position in the standings and is now 12th, after collecting 9 points - totaling 16. Cecília Rabelo also scored, but remained in 14th - with 7 to her name.
Now the Brazilian F4 will have a longer break until its penultimate round: the competitions will resume between the 3rd and 5th of November, during the weekend of the Formula 1 São Paulo GP 2023, at the Interlagos Circuit.