As F4 Brazil promotes its second season, two female drivers now take part in the championship, as opposed to one last season. Cecília Rabelo and Rafaela Ferreira graduated from karting to the world of single-seaters and face a new type of challenge at this stage of their careers. Rabelo and Ferreira spoke to Feeder Series about their thoughts on their Brazilian F4 debut.

WORDS: Maria Clara Castro
PHOTOS: Gabriela Testa

Despite the track results not showing much, it can be said that Aurelia Nobels made a significant evolution throughout the 2022 Brazilian F4 season. The Brazilian-Belgian driver joined the Ferrari Driver Academy after being selected in FIA Girls on Track – Rising Stars programme and now races in Italian F4. Comparing where Nobels was in April 2022 and April 2023, it’s fair to say she only progressed. With hopes that something along these lines will happen, Cecília Rabelo and Rafaela Ferreira race in Brazilian F4, making the female presence in the grid grow from one to two drivers.

Both Rabelo and Ferreira are racing for competitive teams with experienced teammates. Rabelo is a part of Cavaleiro Sports, a team that finished the championship last year in second place with 400 points, while Ferreira is a part of TMG Racing, the team leaving the first round as championship leaders.

Cecília Rabelo and Rafaela Ferreira

Rabelo concluded her debut in Brazilian F4 with results below her expectations. She qualified in 12th, finished race one in 10th and races two and three in 11th. Despite only having one point to her name thus far, she chose to look at things on the bright side.

“I have very little experience, so my goal for this year… is to go forward, to gain as much experience as possible. I believe that – for me – everything at this moment is being good, because wanting it or not, everything is a little bit of experience that will help me up front. I had some problems, I even crashed, but I believe it is part of the process,” analyzed Rabelo.

In Ferreira’s case, she is the only rookie in TMG Racing and deals with second-year drivers, Álvaro Cho and Luan Lopes, as teammates. After announcing their participation in the 2023 Brazilian F4 season with one day to go before official activities started, Cho and Lopes arrived already delivering competitive lap times of 1:36, while Ferreira was still managing her way out of the mid-1:37s.

“For the last race, I think I lacked a bit of experience and a bit of knowing the car space more so I’m sure where I’m going to put it and not crash. For the next races, I will be practicing hard until July and I will come with experience to go up fighting for top-5 and podiums,” affirmed a very hopeful Ferreira.

The TMG Racing rookie driver had a rollercoaster of a race weekend. After qualifying in 10th, Ferreira had an incident in race one with Cavaleiro Sports’ Mateus Callejas. Despite the troubles in race one, she managed to score points in the remaining races, finishing race two in P6 and race three in P9.

Rafaela Ferreira (No. 18) gets ready to leave the garage

“I was very happy to be driving, to see that I had the pace to fight for the top five. Unfortunately, when qualifying, I had a problem that made me miss half session and was unable to put together a good lap. Today, at the beginning, I risked too much, I had no space to make the corner and a driver passed over the nose cone of my car. Overall I’m very happy because after I changed the front wing, I had the same pace as the top five,” Ferreira said, following the first race.

Rabelo and Ferreira’s scenarios are alike, both being rookie drivers getting pushed to the limit by their experienced teammates. Although that may seem like a challenge, both female drivers consider it as an assistance.

“I can get everyone’s data, their onboard, sometimes they give me some tips and share their experience of what they already have from all last year. It’s nice to be in this team that all three drivers are repeating the year and I’m the only rookie,” Ferreira stated.

Rabelo shared the same view as Ferreira.

“I think it’s very good to have them [two experienced drivers] in the team because they end up giving me tips., I can compare the telemetry since they are faster, so it’s something that adds a lot to me… It helped me in this round and will continue helping me a lot throughout the year,” Rabelo reassured.

Cecília Rabelo (No. 98) Cavaleiro Sports

As can be perceived, everything is still in the early stages. When asked about her vision of where Nobels came from and where she is now, Rabelo praised the Belgian-Brazilian driver but emphasized that she is still far from where Nobels is currently.

“I reckon it’s really cool that Aurelia [Nobels] is out there, that she is representing us and standing out. This year I want to do it here in order to gain experience. Next year I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but I believe I should do another year here so that when I go abroad, I’m better prepared and I can stand out,” Rabelo said.

It is easy to see that the two Brazilian F4 female drivers are experiencing a similar scenario to the one Nobels went through in the first half of last year. Over the course of the season, we shall see where Rabelo and Ferreira’s first steps will take them.

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