Petr Semerád: A child racing in single-seaters

Petr Semerád: A child racing in single-seaters

Semerád is just a 16-year old driver, who has just finished his second season in circuit racing. In 2016 he had participated in the FIA CEZ championship and in ESET V4 Cup driving Gloria C8F, while last year he raced in Formula 4. Why has Petr switched to circuits, while his family legacy has always been in rally? And will he ever return to it?

Petr, in hindsight, what do you think of the past season?
It was definitely a good season. We fully focused on our first big project with Formula 4. I had a good fight with Václav Šafář until the very last race with no idea how it is going to end. We both gave it everything. It was a great and very exciting duel from a driver’s point of view. And despite I have finished 2nd in the ESET V4 Cup, it is nice that I and Václav are sharing the 1st place in the FIA CEZ.

The season was decided in the second half of the year. Did he improve that much?
I think we made a mistake. There was that disqualification at Slovakiaring and then also some races there with a gearbox that was too short. Nobody from the team noticed it and when we had discovered that problem, it was already too late. We lost a lot of time as we were too slow on the straights. It is disappointing when you lose a whole season, but we need to learn from the mistakes and make sure they won’t happen again. And improve next year.

So, the switch to Formula 4 cars was not that difficult? How was it after Gloria C8F?
It was not that hard. Both cars are built on the same basis with Formula 4 being a newer car and slightly less physically difficult to drive. I used to have a completely wrecked hand from the gear lever on Gloria and I couldn’t even write at school for the whole week. Formula 4, on the other hand, has paddles under the steering wheel, a carbon fibre monocoque and a higher torque despite less powerful engine. So, it’s behaving better than Gloria at the corner exits but because of a turbocharged engine, with a different mapping, a throttle pedal does not react in the same way. You have to be more careful. But it was not anything too difficult for me.

But it meant you had to leave your family tradition in the rally. Your father and brother were both rally drivers and it was also supposed to be your path, wasn’t it?
Well, that switch only happened because I had won in JunioStar competition two years ago and also the fact that Josef Křenek had the opportunity to run the Gloria car in his team. I was not even thinking about it. My head was focused on 16th birthday and then moving into the Czech Rally Championship and the Youngsters Cup, just like my brother Martin did before. I was completely amazed because I hadn’t had experience an atmosphere of a big race before. Suddenly it happened right here in the Central European Zone championship.

But you still keep tabs on the rally and even took part in some events?
In the second half of the year, I took part in two Rallysprint Series events with Peugeot 208 R2. It put my feet back on the ground again because I had realised once again how difficult and dangerous it is. I think I had this period when I was just figuring out what I want to do and what makes more sense for the future. And I still feel that rally is closer to my heart, it’s in my blood after all. Anyway, we don’t want to leave circuit racing just yet. We have some plans and there is still a lot of time until I am 18 years old.