The difference between a British Formula 4 car and the Praga R1T
When I took the step up from karting to being able to test a British Formula 4 car, in my head I knew that it was a very large jump to take. Most karters when wanting to pursue their motorsport career often go from racing karts to racing in cars such as Ginetta GT40s or the Citroen Saxo (JSCC).
My first reaction when driving the F4 car was that it was very quick in the corners and pretty fast in a straight line. On the other hand, I always felt that the car had an urge to always lose control, therefore when driving the car, it was almost like trying to tame an out of control animal.
On the 23rd of February, I was invited by Praga/Arden to test out their race car, the Praga R1T. The quickest car that I have driven, prior to the day was the British F4 car which only had a top speed of 135 mph. On the simulator at Arden, I was testing the FRECA (Formula Renault) with a top speed slightly lower than the Praga. As I now more or less had a similar reference to the R1T in the simulator, 2 days before testing, I was putting many laps in on the simulator and being coached by Steve Hutchinson.
When I arrived at Silverstone, the sky was grey and the track damp and greasy, not ideal driving conditions in a high powered car. In the first session, the team (Idola Motorsports) put brand new slick tyres on the car – not the older tyres I was expecting. Getting in the car is quite a squeeze as it’s extremely low down and the cockpit it tiny. When in, it’s very snug.
To get the biting point of the R1T requires precision balancing of the clutch as it is super heavy. However, once off and toddling down the pitlane with the pit limiter making the car very bouncy, the rest is very simple. As I exited the pit lane, I put the car into second gear by using the paddle-shift system on the wheel and put my foot flat down on the throttle. This car is insane!
The R1T has 380 BHP while weighing only 650 kg making it quicker than most production super cars. One can’t compare it to the British F4 car as that only has 160 BHP and a similar weight. The one thing I couldn’t get my head around when driving the car was the amount of downforce it created. When going into the first corner (Copse) which was a long right-hander, the car felt like it was almost glued down to the ground at that speed. It was a truly remarkable sensation you don’t get in a car such as the F4. When standing on the pit-wall, the cars go by in a flash at 160 mph, though when driving it, the sense of speed disappears and 160 becomes the norm.
A big thank you to everyone at the YRDA, Arden and Praga for this opportunity. It was an awesome day out and I hope to be driving one of these beasts again soon.