- Atharva Desai
Malaysia F4 Race and India Travel
I am flying to Malaysia on Tuesday, November 8th for a race at Sepang International Circuit. This is an Ex. Formula 1 circuit that was raced last in 2017. The track is currently featured in the Formula Southeast Asia Championship. I was very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to race on this historic track. I will be racing on the 14th, 15th, 20th, and 21st of November.
The opportunity gives me 4 complete racing days in the Formula 4 car with tires and a personal mechanic included. Regardless of the amount of help and practice, I will get; I still need to train. The best way for me to train is to get on my simulator. The first thing that came to mind was getting an Assetto Corsa mod for the Sepang racetrack. I downloaded the track, but I was soon faced with the problem of what car to drive with. I knew it was an F4 car, but each Formula 4 car has a different feeling to it. I know because I started off in Formula 4 USA and the feel was completely different to when I tested the GB4 car in the UK. I was told that the Formula SEA car will be different as well. Since the development in the halo and safety of future race cars, the FIA changed their sporting car regulations to add a halo to the Formula 4 cars.
I am excited that this would be my first time driving with the halo on, but I was disappointed that I couldn’t find an F4 car with a halo on Assetto Corsa. The next best thing however was to practice using the GB4 car. Thankfully, my driver development race team @Arden Motorsport provided me with one of their GB4-tuned cars in the game. I have everything set, so I was eager to jump in the game. Immediately after jumping in, I forgot how different the racing experience is since I am used to racing the F1 cars in iRacing. However, it didn’t take me many laps to get used to the GB4, but it did take me quite a few laps to nail down the corners and plan out my landmarks
Click here to read more about my experience in the UK
The entire track was a great challenge. Tackling every corner with precision was especially fun on this track. From a track map perspective, it is one of the most technical tracks I have seen. Take turn 14 for example. From turn 12 and 13, you are on full power, and you have to brake in a straight line or take a reverse brake trace approach. Either way, if turn 14 minimum speeds aren’t good enough, a lot of time will be lost in the straights up until turn 15.
After clocking a great number of laps, I got a proper feel for the car and the track. I started pushing the car to its limits, understanding the grip levels through the corners, and mapping out my visual points. I linked Assetto Corsa to my MoTec software and started reading data. I took a deep dive into my analysis and was able to knock off 5 tenths.
The new formula cars have a halo due to the new regulations by the FIA. This will be the first opportunity I will have to drive a car with a halo. I have sat in a formula regional car to see how the halo feels, and I noticed that it barely at all obstructs vision.
I am used to driving the F4 cars, so I will have no problem pushing it to the limits, I plan to actively learn the most I can both in my race craft and in my engineering skills. Since I am doing my 3rd year in motorsport technology at Oxford Brookes, I am more knowledgeable about the parts that go into formula cars.
After the 4 days in Malaysia, I will travel to India and visit the people I have made a good connection with. I was initially planning to race in the Formula Regionals India Championship; however, the championship was canceled. I was planning to get a seat in the championship, but I am now searching elsewhere.
Hopefully, the Malaysia race serves as a catalyst for my racing career and striving toward a full racing season.