FORD’S YOUNG STARS ALL SET FOR BRITISH F4 OPENER
Could this potentially be the most competitive and hard-fought season yet for British F4? – Photo: Jakob Ebrey
10 different race winners, the championship leader changing after every race weekend bar one, and six drivers from four teams in title contention heading into a thrilling season finale which saw Max Fewtrell emerge triumphant. The F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford has a lot to live up to following a captivating 2016.
We’re in luck however, with a rich crop of Ford EcoBoost-powered talent promising a superb year of action in what is Ford’s 50th consecutive year at the forefront of junior single-seater motor racing. No less than nine nationalities are represented this weekend. The world’s most exciting junior motor racing prospects are set to battle it out in the UK for coveted FIA Super Licence points in their bid to climb the FIA pyramid to F1, as well as a fully funded test with a leading FIA European F3 team courtesy of series partner and tyre supplier Hankook.
The only single-seater series in Britain open to 15-year-old drivers, British F4 boasts a quality field headed by a four-car entry from champion team Carlin. Series race winner Jamie Caroline joins them in his quest for the title. American karting prodigy Logan Sargeant topped two days of pre-season testing, having recently been crowned Rookie Champion in the UAE’s sister F4 series. Flying Finn Patrik Pasma and Lucas Alecco Roy complete the line-up.
TRS Arden have assembled a strong squad of international drivers. British F4 Rookie class vice-champion Ayrton Simmons is retained and joined by Australian karting ace Oscar Piastri. Like Sargeant, Piastri has competed in the sister UAE F4 series and is the only other driver to have been the pacesetter on more than one day of pre-season testing. New York City’s Yves Baltas arrives from across the pond while 2016 British F4 Rookie Champion Alex Quinn will contest the first four meetings, before Olli Caldwell jumps in the car at Croft once he has turned 15.
Double R’s cosmopolitan line-up has no shortage of speed. Swedish single-seater champion Linus Lundqvist has been a star of pre-season testing, in addition to Lebanese karting champion Karl Massaad and Daniel Cao from Shanghai.
JHR came tantalisingly close to the title with runner-up Sennan Fielding and want to go one better with Manuel Sulaimán from Puebla, Mexico. Podium finisher Billy Monger returns as a leading contender for the inaugural Ford F4 Challenge Cup, which sees drivers compete in a maximum of seven meetings.
International kart champion Oliver York is another Challenge Cup contender, graduating to car racing with Fortec Motorsports, as is Richardson Racing’s Harry Webb. Elsewhere, Falcon Motorsport will join the fray in the Challenge Cup with Irish karting champion Lucca Allen from the Snetterton meeting onwards.
Two new teams join the grid in 2017. Jamie Sharp steps up to British F4 with his father’s Sharp Motorsport outfit. Meanwhile Gary Ward’s GW Motorsport fields Jacky Liu who has an array of Chinese karting titles to his name.
Up for the challenge
2017 sees the introduction of the Ford F4 Challenge Cup which will run to identical regulations as the overall Championship class, giving talented youngsters the chance to prove they have got what it takes in the UK’s leading single-seater series for less than £100,000.
Challenge Cup drivers will compete in a maximum of seven of the 10 championship meetings, with both the Knockhill meeting and the season finale at Brands Hatch being mandatory. Drivers will nominate the other five meetings they wish to take part in.
Prizes for Challenge Cup drivers include: free scholarship entry for the 2017 Challenge Cup victor to the 2018 F4 British Championship worth £15,000; £10,000 cash prize fund across the season courtesy of Ford Motor Company; podium for the Challenge Cup class at every round and £5,000 cash prize available to the first Challenge Cup driver to win a race overall.
Alex Battipaglia (Source: British F4)