Champions past and present highlight British F4’s role in their success

Champions past and present have praised the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost for its role in developing the next generation of motorsport stars on a cost-effective, high-profile and instructive platform.

The championship, which runs as the sole single-seater support series on the UK’s premier motorsport package, the British Touring Car Championship, regularly entertains capacity crowds and millions more through ITV4’s free-to-air television coverage.

At the beating heart of the most remarkable concept in junior single-seater racing since the original Formula Ford concept back in 1967 is the race-proven, 1.6-litre Ford EcoBoost-powered engine, which paired with the Mygale-constructed F4 chassis provides drivers with a superb learning platform in a reliable and safe environment.

In just four years of competition, Britain’s official FIA-sanctioned Formula 4 series has already garnered a reputation as the most competitive of its kind in the world, with the success stories to match.

The inaugural Champion (under the MSA Formula guise) Lando Norris became the first British F4 graduate to reach Formula 1, unveiled earlier this year as a McLaren driver for 2019.

That followed a startling run of championship successes, beginning in British F4 before the 19-year old lifted the Toyota Racing Series, Formula Renault Eurocup and NEC titles in 2016, stunned the world in FIA European Formula 3 the following year and finished Vice-Champion to George Russell in FIA Formula 2 this campaign.

“Formula 4 gave me good experience for what lay ahead in my single-seater career like learning about aero, for example, after racing in karts,” said Norris.

“Racing in the British series gave me the opportunity of racing on ‘old school’ circuits like Brands Hatch and Silverstone which was fun as well as some unique tracks like Croft but it was all a good learning experience.

“The fact that British series is televised is a big incentive to sponsors which makes it an attractive starter formula for drivers setting out in single-seaters. I enjoyed my time in F4 and it definitely played a part in me reaching my goal of Formula 1.”

His successor, Max Fewtrell, recently followed in his footsteps by claiming the coveted Formula Renault Eurocup title in Barcelona, and already has a direct link to Formula 1 as part of the Renault Sport Academy initiative.

He attributes that success, in part, to the profile of British F4 when approaching F1 teams, and echoed Norris’ appraisal of the UK circuits he learnt his craft on.

“Winning the championship opened the door to the Renault Sport Academy for me, which was really great,” explained Fewtrell.

“I spoke to Renault whilst the championship was going on and they said ‘you need to win this’, so I went out and did the job and it provided me with a great opportunity with a Formula 1 team which has been, so far, amazing for me and my career and it continues to go well.

“I think the British circuits are different to those on the continent, they’re a bit rougher and it really teaches you how to get the car on the limit and race hard as well, so I think it’s really great to be learning in England as well in your first year. There are some really tough tracks out there.”

2017’s leading light Jamie Caroline has since gone on to impress both at home and in the US, dovetailing appearances in the USF2000 category and BRDC British F3 this campaign.

He believes the series is the most cost-effective of its kind on the market, with very real potential for drivers looking to boost their profiles.

“For a young driver moving into single-seaters from karting or something like Ginetta Juniors, British F4 is a great series to help boost your profile and make a name for yourself,” said Caroline.

“The level of exposure you get from being on the BTCC package is fantastic, which makes the series appealing for sponsors – and that is key as motorsport at this level is never cheap.

“However, British F4 offers a platform that gives you more for your money than you will get anywhere else and, for me, it’s a good stepping stone for anyone starting out on their single-seater career.”

And Kiern Jewiss – the latest to join this prestigious group – is already looking to emulate his predecessors in climbing the FIA single-seater pyramid after claiming the title – Double R Racing’s first – at Brands Hatch in October.

“The F4 British Championship has been an amazing experience for my first season in single-seaters,” enthused Jewiss.

“To be racing in front of so many fans at the track, and even more on TV, has been fantastic for my exposure and has been such a big selling point to potential sponsors. The series is fantastic value for money, with the viewing figures and attendances bigger than some major championships.

“The car is a lot of fun to drive and offers some valuable lessons into developing race-craft and technical understanding. To have so much track time on a weekend also aided my development and gave me the chance to learn more on car setup and what the differences feel like.

“Some fantastic drivers have come through the series and I really hope I can go on to replicate the likes of Lando and make my way through the ranks!”

If the series’ alumni needed any more ringing endorsements, Fewtrell, Caroline and Jewiss will all head to the Autosport Awards in London this Sunday [2nd December] as nominees for the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Award.

They will be looking to make it ‘three in a row’ for British F4 after Dan Ticktum’s triumph last year and the success of Norris in the same category in 2016.

Beyond that, another ten-event, thirty-race calendar with the latest crop of rising stars will get underway at Brands Hatch on 6th-7th April, 2019.

All images LAT Photographic.