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  • Writer's pictureIGOR LAERTE

Rafaela Ferreira impresses in the F4 Brazil season opener by taking double podium and personal best

The first weekend of the 2024 F4 Brazil season was marked by the remarkable performance of the two female drivers on the grid, who achieved their personal best results in the series - and by Rafaela Ferreira's double presence on the podium.

Rafaela Ferreira F4 Brasil
Photo credits: Duda Bairros - Edited by: Igor Laerte

F4 Brazil began its 2024 season last weekend at the beautiful Velocittà Circuit in Mogi Guaçu, with an interesting field of some new drivers as well as returnees. What was unchaged was the presence of the two women who entered the previous season - Rafaela Ferreira and Cecília Rabelo. With the learning acquired in 2023 and the more track time in their cars, Ferreira and Rabelo will certainly be able to build upon their learning-oriented rookie year.

And they certainly lived up to the high expectations for 2024 - which promises to be a very positive season for the two female drivers, whose season began with the most encouraging signs in the free practice sessions. Ferreira had an impressive performance in the first outings, leading two of the sessions held on Wednesday and set the fastest lap of the day. On Thursday, the TMG Racing driver continued to do a great job behind the wheel of the #18 car and returned to lead one of the sessions.

On Friday, two more free practice sessions and qualifying for races 1 and 3 were held. And despite the changes in weather conditions, Rafaela Ferreira achieved highly positive results once again, securing fourth on the starting grid for both races. Debuting for a new team - Bassani F4 - Cecília Rabelo had a consistent performance during the qualifying session and placed P7 and P8 in races 1 and 3 respectively.

Race 1

Starting from the 4th position, Rafaela Ferreira took P3 right when the lights went out, kicking off the first race of the 2024 season. Matheus Comparatto had issues on the formation lap and was sent to the back of the grid. Álvaro Cho quickly opened a gap in the lead to second place - Lucca Zucchini and Ferreira, who despite initial pressure from rookies Ethan Nobels - younger brother of F1 Academy driver Aurélia Nobels - and Rogério Grotta, remained unchallenged in third place.

Cecília Rabelo started in P7, but lost two positions on the first laps. Throughout the race she managed to recover, completing two overtakes into turn 1 - over Argentine Genaro Trappa on lap 17 and then over Grotta on lap 19. During the move on Trappa there was contact between the two cars, which was investigated by the stewards. However, there were no further actions and so she crossed the finish line in 6th place. Rafaela Ferreira remained in third until the end and achieved her second podium of her F4 career. Her teammate Álvaro Cho won the race, followed by Lucca Zucchini in second.

Race 2

With the reverse grid system following the result of race 1, the drivers returned to the Velocittà Circuit track for the second race of the day with Ciro Sobral on pole position. Cecília Rabelo lined up in P3 and Rafa Ferreira a little further back, in sixth. At the start of the race, Ethan Nobels took the lead, Rabelo moved up to third place and Ferreira to fifth, but the battles were neutralized by the deployment of the safety car, so that rookie Guilherme Favarete's car could be retrieved after coming to a halt on the main straight at the start.

When the green flag was waved to restart the race, Cecília Rabelo was under pressure from Rogério Grotta, but she held on to third for some time. Further back, Rafaela Ferreira ended up losing two places, falling back to seventh on the older tyre. The winner of race 1 - Álvaro Cho had started in 8th and was climbing the order, until he overtook Rabelo on lap 7.

Cecília Rabelo thus dropped to 4th place, and despite the attempts of Grotta, who was right behind, she remained in the position until the end, also recording her personal best result in F4 Brazil. Ethan Nobels won for the first time in the series, followed by Sobral and Cho.

Rafaela Ferreira resisted the pressure from Matheus Comparatto and crossed the finish line in seventh in race 2, still scoring good points.

Race 3

The weather conditions changed dramatically on the circuit and the young drivers hit the track on Sunday morning in heavy rain. In the initial configuration of the starting grid for race 3, Álvaro Cho was on pole position, followed by Lucca Zucchini in second, Matheus Comparatto in third, Rafaela Ferreira in fourth place, with Cecília Rabelo in P8.

Cecília Rabelo; Rafaela Ferreira; F4 Brasil
Photo credits: Duda Bairros

While still on the formation lap, Zucchini spun and fell to the back of the grid. Cho had issues with his car and had to pit. On a very slippery track, the race started behind the safety car, which entered the pit lane only at the end of lap 3.

After already several twists and turns, Comparatto was the leader, followed by Rafaela Ferreira in second. Cecília Rabelo also gained positions and was in P6 when the green flag was waved and the on track action resumed. While the leader extended his margin to Rafaela, the main fight was between Argentine Gino Trappa and Ethan Nobels. After 4 laps under green flag, Rabelo had dropped to P9, and with the extremely tricky conditions, she spun on lap 8.

Despite pressure from Ethan Nobels, Rafaela Ferreira defended very well and secured a second place - her personal best career result in F4 Brasil, and also her second podium in the opening round of the 2024 season. With just over 5 minutes to go, Nobels spun during one of his attempts to overtake Ferreira, causing the safety car to be deployed again. The pace car guided the drivers until they crossed the finish line and thus, Matheus Comparatto took victory.

Rafaela Ferreira praised her team's work in adjusting the car, which contributed to her being able to achieve a remarkable result, as the sessions held on Friday were also on a wet track:"It was a very good race. The team did an excellent job with the car, we practiced well on Friday and the results were great. So, today had everything to be a wonderful race and it was! My best result of the season and in the whole to F4."

Rafaela Ferreira's fantastic performance in the first round of F4 Brazil in 2024 placed her in 3rd place in the drivers' standings - with 35 points collected and two trophies won in races 1 and 3. She is just 5 points behind Álvaro Cho in the lead, and 3 points behind Matheus Comparatto in second. Cecília Rabelo also showed a significant evolution in her performance and improved her personal best results twice - first with a P6 in race 1 and then with P4 in race 2. She currently sits eighth with 18 points.

The drivers will return to F4 Brazil on April 21st and the Interlagos Circuit will be the stage for the second round of this season, which promises to continue bringing excellent results for the two female racers on the grid.

Cecília Rabelo; Rafaela Ferreira; F4 Brasil
Photo credits: Luca Bassani / Marcelo de Melo - Edited by: Igor Laerte



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