Getting To Know: The iRacing FIA Formula 4 Challenge

Let’s learn more about one of iRacing most popular series: The FIA Formula 4 Challenge.

Arguably the tip of the iRacing single-seater iceberg is the Formula A Grand Prix series – featuring Mercedes-AMG’s 2022 Brazilian GP-winning W13 Formula 1 machine – but before you reach the pinnacle it’s always a good idea to hone your racecraft in cars that are significantly slower, but produce significantly more competitive racing.

That’s where iRacing’s FIA Formula 4 Challenge comes in, a series that features a bespoke car built to real-life FIA F4 regulations by iRacing themselves.   

The car

The FIA Formula 4 Challenge’s 570 KG machine provides the basis for all of its competitors so there’s no need to worry about BOP or finding the car that best suits your style here. Fitted with a 2000cc engine that pushes out 160 BHP, it boasts the signature features of a junior single-seater.

  • Has two adjustable aero surfaces – namely a front splitter and rear wing 
  • The car is fitted with slick tyres, providing significantly higher levels of mechanical grip than semi-slicks
  • Has fully customisable suspension, ride height and more

This places the FIA F4 car on the second rung on the iRacing single-seater ladder above the Formula Ford 1600 and just below the Dallara F3 vehicle which can be used in the DOF Reality Dallara F3 series – a series which you can out more about with Coach Dave Academy’s guide on the championship.

Need setups for the series?

Our iRacing Setup Subscription allows you to focus purely on your on-track performance. And, with access to our free Coach Dave Delta app, installing them couldn’t be any easier.

  • Race setups
  • Qualifying setups
  • Onboard laps
  • Data packs
  • All crafted by professionals

Race series format

The FIA Formula 4 Challenge features a similar format to that of the FF1600 Trophy with a 20-minute sprint race without the need for a pit stop. Prior to a standing start – a regular feature in other single-seater series on iRacing – an eight-minute qualifying session grants you two fast laps to decide your place on the grid within each race event.

Each session takes place every two hours at quarter-to-the-hour, so 11:45 GMT, 13:45, 15:45 and so on. However, also available on the iRacing platform is a fixed setup FIA Formula 4 Challenge equivalent, racing on alternate hours to the open setup series with the same format.

What license is needed to race?

The FIA F4 Challenge requires drivers to possess a Class D road racing license in order to take part, making it one of the perfect first steps for drivers looking to progress their license class.

It follows on nicely from the Formula 1600 and Formula Vee rookie championships that allow you to cut your teeth in the world of iRacing, and provides a good launchpad to understanding how an aerodynamics-based vehicle works before moving up to the Class C graded Formula C series.  

Series costing

The FIA Formula 4 Challenge features a largely premium-based schedule which means you may need to buy the bulk of the tracks to complete the schedule, depending on the purchases you have already made for other series.

Three of the 12 circuits that feature on the Season 3 2023 calendar are free venues on the iRacing service, which means nine will have to be purchased – meaning you’ll need to spend northwards of $107 to complete the track list, plus a further $11.95 for the F4 car. If you want to learn more about how to cut costs on iRacing, make sure to check out our guide on how to get started in the cheapest way possible.

What’s so special?

The FIA Formula 4 Challenge provides the perfect next step once you have gotten used to and found success in the Formula 1600-based series and fancy the next step up the single-seater ladder. However, it’s also in a prime position to scoop up drivers looking to progress out of the Global Mazda MX-5 Series to a car with greater cornering speed.

The adjustable aero devices that feature on the F4 car allow you to add this crucial part of setting up a racing car to your repertoire having mastered the mechanical elements of car setup found on an FF1600 machine.

Should you elect to focus purely on the racing and choose one of Coach Dave Academy’s specially-built F4 setups for the series, the F4 car also allows you to learn the intricacies of driving a car that produces downforce.  

Momentum and racing smarts are key to success

Carrying good corner speed while also achieving a good corner exit is crucial in this ultra-close racing discipline due to the extreme slipstream benefit to the car following you.   

  • Allowing the aero to do the work in the medium and high-speed bends is critical to lap time as well as getting a run on – or potentially defending from – an opponent.
  • Working out where to place your car at different points in a race is a crucial skill to possess which could be the difference between finishing on the podium or outside the top five – leading at the start of the final lap at Monza could be a tactical disaster!

The lessons learnt from this series will be critical in your quest to conquer the very top of the iRacing single-seater ladder, with further improved race craft and an understanding of how to set up and drive a car that heavily relies on aero sure to carry you further on the path to success as you rise through the ranks.

Also, remember to download the free Coach Dave Delta app today to access the full range of setups so you can fight for supremacy whenever you hit the track! 

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