‘A good start to the season… I was able to score points’

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Prost, Arnoux, Laffite, Cevert, Pironi, Alesi, Jarier, Tambay, the list of French racing royalty is much longer through the École de Pilotage Jim Russell, the Winfield Driver School, and in it’s latest iteration as the Winfield Racing School, than I can list here. It’s list of illustrious graduates even boasts one of our very own, and we really can claim him as a Club100 driver, even if he had retired and was racing for fun, yes F1 World Champion Damon Hill. And now it lays claim to another of our own, Garrett Berry, whose own motor racing globetrotting odyssey brought him to Club100 in UK, and sees him enter single seaters in the French Formula 4 Championship with the Winfield Racing School team. 

After a taster as a guest driver at the last round of the 2022 championship at Circuit Paul Ricard, Garrett began a full Formula 4 campaign in the 2023 season at Round 1 this Easter weekend at Nogaro. Although unfamiliar with the twisty airfield circuit in southwestern France, the first round netted 3 classified finishes and invaluable seat time with his new car, and a chance to measure up his competition, on a track that is not easy to overtake on.  

He started 14th on the grid for Race 1 finishing 13th, Race 2 from grid 14 to finish 15th and then in Race 3 he delivered a points paying 8th place finish from grid 9.

Race 2 Replay from Nogaro

Garrett reported, ‘I did not manage my tires well throughout the weekend. So I was struggling with my right side [tires] for Race 3. I get one new set plus 2 spare tires for the whole weekend, and I wasn’t fully comfortable with the car’ and chasing the elusive ‘balance’ with his engineer in practice and qualifying. This made progress difficult on a track where qualifying is so important, ‘Yes it is super hard to overtake as there is only a short straight and very tight corners.’ Additionally there is dirty air and a lack of draft to consider from the Mygale chassis ‘There is a decent amount of dirty air once you get really close, but there is not a lot of drag so the slipstream only gains you 2-4kph.’ Was there any magic to be worked on the mechanical side of the set up? ‘I can change my anti roll bar, and the aero front and rear and I can swap tires sides. For practice time, it depends per track. But some have private test days and then some only have a 30 minute practice before the Qualifying. For the race grids, the first race is based on your fastest lap in qualifying. Race 2 is reverse grid for the top 10. Race 3 is your second fastest lap in Qualifying. So it is very important to get 2 fast laps.’   

GB01

And what of his competition? Everyone might start from a familiar level playing field of the same turbo charged Renault Sport 1.3-litre engined Mygale chassis, but ‘I did a decent amount of testing before the season in a similar car and it helped me with some aspects and experience is about the same for most of the guys on the grid, [although] most of the front runners did last season and did heavy testing to get them ready.’ The American is up for the challenge. 

Round 2 is at Magny-Cours , 5-7th of May, the 7 round championship also visits the famous Pau street circuit, and the fearsome Spa-Francorchamps before culminating at the iconic Paul Ricard in October.  

Our thanks to Garrett for his time, follow him on instagram @gberry03 and the Winfield Racing School.

Race 3 Replay from Nogaro

Words: Chris Simpson