FORD’S WINNING FORMULA CONTINUES AS BRITISH F4 BEGINS AGAIN
The winning formula continues for the 2018 instalment of the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost, with the season getting underway at Brands Hatch this weekend.
2017 saw a rich crop of talent provide an abundance of scintillating wheel-to-wheel action in what was Ford’s 50th consecutive year at the forefront of junior single-seaters. Records were broken, boundaries of performance pushed and the bar raised even higher in the only single-seater series in Britain open to 15-year-old drivers.
This year British F4 boasts another top-quality field. It is headed by a four-car entry from Arden which includes the Red Bull Junior Team duo of Jack Doohan and Dennis Hauger. Doohan, son of five-time 500cc MotoGP world champion and motorcycle legend Mick Doohan, is looking to add more silverware to the family trophy cabinet and Norwegian karting talent Hauger has been rapid in pre-season, topping two official tests.
Flying Finn and podium finisher Patrik Pasma is back for 2018; while the case of “like father, like son” goes even further at Arden as Sebastian Priaulx, son of triple World Touring Car Champion and Ford GT driver Andy Priaulx, embarks upon his maiden single-seater season. Priaulx’s record speaks for itself, having most recently been crowned Ginetta Junior vice-champion with 13 podiums, including seven victories.
Another who has a name synonymous with motor racing is that of Hampus Ericsson, younger brother of F1 driver Marcus. The Fortec Motorsports ace had a stellar rookie season which saw him win the Ford F4 Challenge Cup. Johnathan Hoggard contested a handful of meetings last year and has been flying throughout winter testing. Meanwhile Lucca Allen is no stranger to the series after taking 10 Challenge Cup podiums.
JHR Developments aren’t short of experience either with Manuel Sulaimán and Ayrton Simmons returning. The pair have starred on the podium and the latter tasted victory at Brands Hatch in 2017. They should be major players alongside European karting star Josh Skelton.
Jamie Sharp and Sharp Motorsport also return. 2017 was a learning year, but that didn’t stop Sharp from showing flashes of brilliance on the way to many top-10 finishes.
Priaulx isn’t the only Ginetta Junior driver making the step up to British F4 this year. Rookie champion Kiern Jewiss is targeting the title with Double R Racing. If his pre-season testing performances are anything to go by, he’s sure to be in with a shout having topped the first official pre-season test and been on front-running pace ever since.
Paavo Tonteri and Sebastian Alvarez complete Double R’s line-up. Both are from the Infinity Sports Management stable which guided Max Fewtrell to the 2016 title and both have enviable international karting records.
Return of the Rookie
This year sees the return of the Rookie Cup in place of the Challenge Cup. Drivers who have no previous car racing experience – Alvarez, Doohan, Hauger, Skelton and Tonteri – will have even more to fight for in 2018 as they will be eligible for the Rookie Cup, along with the chance to be crowned FIA British Formula 4 Champion.
As was the case in 2015 and 2016 when Enaam Ahmed and Alex Quinn took the respective Rookie titles, entry to the Rookie Cup does not bring with it any limits on testing mileage for drivers and the winner will receive free entry to the 2019 F4 British Championship.
The Ford Super Rookie Award is also up for grabs – the first Rookie Cup entrant to win a race overall will take home £5,000. Meanwhile the Ford Triple Crown Award is open to all drivers competing in the F4 British Championship and will see the first driver to win all three races in a meeting awarded £10,000.