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14 Aug 2014 | Text by Nicholas Low, Photos by Nicholas Low & Michelin
Getting into the hot seat of a Formula 4 race car is certainly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, especially if this writer is no race car driver.
The speed of the car snapped me out of the moment and I was constantly telling myself, "Steady! Steady!" My foot hadn't even begun to fully extend and I could already feel and hear the gears all ready to shift. I was one with the machine. I shot from one end to the other in a blink of an eye, stomped on the brakes before I made the first turn on Sepang International Circuit, and realised I've probably yelled more profanities in that five seconds than I ever did in the past three decades.
This was the Michelin Pilot Sport Experience 2014, where the star of the event was undoubtedly the Formula 4 race car.
You see, as much as being a motoring journalist allows me to self-proclaim and boast about my superior driving skills, I'm just your average driver that will take the same amount of time as you do to parallel park a car. So when Michelin offered a rare opportunity to allow me to boost my 'driving ego' (and hopefully improve my driving skills), I simply couldn't say no.
The F4, quite simply, is an entry level version of a Formula One race car that ploughs through our street circuit every September. Although it is the junior class of open-wheelers, the F4 packs serious performance. It is a 470kg carbon fibre-bodied race car that's packed with 185 horses, giving it an astonishing power to weight ratio of 394bhp per tonne.
That is even more than the 911 Turbo S - one of Porsche's latest gems, which has 350bhp per tonne and can sprint from nought to 100km/h in 3.1 seconds.