Petr Ptacek Jr is confident he can continue his strong start in the Italian Formula 4 Championship when he travels to the second round at Paul Ricard in France this weekend (12-13 May).
The karting graduate heads to the home of the French Grand Prix after securing two Rookie Cup podiums and a brace of top ten finishes on his debut at Adria last month. He currently sits second out of 14 drivers in the Rookie Cup standings.
“I’m feeling confident ahead of the weekend, I’m not stressed about it,” the Czech driver said. “I like the track because it’s really good to overtake on, but it’s probably not my favourite of the year.”
Petr first experienced Paul Ricard as an 11-year-old when he tested a French F4 Championship car there. He re-familiarised himself with the circuit by spending three days there in April and he’s in no doubt how important it is to drive the 5.84km circuit cleanly.
“Small mistakes can really affect you at Paul Ricard – if you make even a small error you carry it throughout the entire lap,” he explained.
“If you make a small mistake at a track like Mugello, you can get the time back in a few corners. But at Paul Ricard if you make an error you won’t be able to make the time up again.”
As well as knowing the importance of not making mistakes, Petr is also aware of the role the 1.8km Mistral Straight can play in securing a strong qualifying position on Saturday morning.
“Slipstreaming is going to be key. If I do a perfect lap without a slipstream I’m not going to qualify very high. If I do a poorer lap but in a good slipstream, I have the potential of qualifying further up the grid because of the extra speed from the tow,” the Corum Watches-backed driver added.
After his successful debut weekend at Adria, one of Petr’s strengths was his ability to manage the series’ Pirelli tyres and keep them in a good condition during the races. He’s hoping that will benefit him during the limited free practice sessions that precede this weekend’s races.
He said: “With just two 40-minute test sessions, there won’t be much time for people to do a lot of laps, maybe eight at most. That means it will be important to get up to speed quickly and that should benefit me.
“I’ve shown that I’m able to get grip out of the tyres faster than some of the other drivers and that will especially benefit me in qualifying when we’ll probably only have time for six laps.”
Petr will tackle three separate races at the second round of the Italian F4 Championship. The first race will take place on Saturday afternoon, while the remaining races will get underway on Sunday.