Carlin’s Matias Zagazeta insists he is ready to take on the challenge as preparations for the 2020 F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost reach fever pitch.
The Peruvian joins Trevor Carlin’s title-winning powerhouse from karting, choosing Britain’s FIA Formula 4 series for his graduation to single seaters, and will partner Christian Mansell, Zak O’Sullivan and Marijn Kremers.
The 16-year old was recently re-acquainted with his Mygale M14-F4 challenger in testing after the COVID-19 lockdown in the UK was eased, and reported back positively, saying the pace from the get-go had given him a confidence booster ahead of the season opener at Donington Park on 01-02 August.
“It’s been very good. I’m showing good pace at the moment, so this gives me a little boost in confidence for the next tests in July to get ready for the start of the championship,” explained Zagazeta.
“It’s always here [the UK] that you have wet and dry in a test day, because it rains, then the sun comes out, then it rains again…
“It’s very good for the testing as well, because in the races, it’s going to be exactly the same. So it’s very important.”
Reflecting on the enforced break before racing resumes, Zagazeta echoed the thoughts of his fellow Ford-powered rising stars, explaining that the four-month hiatus has helped him put in the extra yards in preparation.
“Lockdown has been really good, it’s helped me to keep on improving and get ready for the championship,” he said.
“I feel better now than I did at the beginning of lockdown, so it’s really been a small advantage to get ready in other aspects off-track.
“Now we’ll see how we are on-track.”
That preparation could prove vital with the championship’s re-arranged calendar, including an intense four meetings in the opening five weekends of the season. Zagazeta agreed, underlining the importance of maintaining a level of performance throughout.
“Definitely. The races are going to be almost every single weekend until the end of the championship, so it’s going to be very, very important to keep, for example, a good diet and to stay very strong to get to your one-hundred percent every single weekend.
“Because if you’re tired after one weekend, and then you have in the next weekend another race, and then another, and another…
“So it’s not going to be good, you’re not going to be performing at your best, so I think this preparation has really helped me to be at that my one-hundred percent every single weekend,” he added.
He also believes the mental side of the sport will come into the foreground, with drivers forced to put setbacks behind them quicker than normal and keep a positive outlook in a congested schedule.
“It’s very important to always be positive, whatever the situation is that happens in the first or second round. It’s a very long championship, so anything can happen,” explains Zagazeta.
“The worst thing you can do is thinking negatively, that will put you down even more than you are, and then you’ll get to the next round and it’ll be worse and worse.
“So, instead, just try to take the positives out of it, remembering that there’s a very long way until the end, and then just keep pushing and trying to do your best.”
Lockdown also gave British F4 an opportunity to experiment in the world of eSports with the launch of the inaugural British F4 iRacing Trophy.
Zagazeta was one of the ‘Class of 2020’ to take part, and said the simulator had played an important role in the break when it came to learning the UK’s challenging circuits.
“It’s very good to learn tracks you haven’t been on, to try different lines and different things,” he says.
“And, for example, the iRacing Championship, it helps you to get ready a little bit mentally, because sims can be a little bit stressful sometimes. It’s going to be like that in real life, as well, trying to control the emotions and thinking positively as well, so that’s really been good training.
Looking ahead to Donington Park, and to the new season, Zagazeta stated his aims including taking the Rookie Cup title, as well as amassing as many points as possible in the overall stakes.
“I’ll try to get as many points during the championship as I can and try to finish in the top positions. I’m trying to go for the Rookie title as well. I really think the drivers that have been racing last year are going to be strong, but I think everyone in general is going to be very good and it’s going to be very competitive. I can’t wait for the challenge!”
He also paid tribute to his new team mates as the quartet continue to push each other to new heights.
“It’s absolutely perfect to have team mates like Zak, Christian and Marijn, because we’re all very competitive, we’re all very good and we push each other to the limit, so we end up doing better than if I was, for example, on my own – I wouldn’t really have too much reference.
“Having very good team mates like them is helping me to push the limits.”