Dougie Bolger underlined his happiness ahead of the 2021 F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost season opener at Thruxton last month following a positive winter testing programme with Carlin.
The 16-year-old from Japan will take his first steps on the FIA Single Seater pyramid this season with Trevor Carlin’s title-winning outfit, and with the backing of Kokoro Performance, who helped Zane Maloney to the ’19 title, and Zak O’Sullivan to the vice-champion honours in ’20.
Bolger has completed a thorough testing programme at each of the UK circuits set to feature on this year’s calendar over the winter months, as he makes the step up from karting into single seaters in Britain’s FIA-backed Formula 4 series.
Initially, the transition felt worlds apart from karting, but as time has progressed, Bolger has developed a real affinity with the Mygale-built F4 car.
“In the beginning, it felt like to driving a UFO,” he explained.
“Just something completely different but it didn’t take that long to actually understand the car, and as soon as I understood that, how the car changes during the session, it’s becoming more fun and fun as I develop. I’m driving what I want and I’m driving with a passion, I like what I’m doing right now.”
For Bolger, who will run the #25 this season alongside new team-mates Roman Bilinski, Kai Askey and Tasanapol Inthraphuvasak, the motorsport ‘buzz’ began after witnessing the level of competition over in the UK, after which he moved across to rise through the ranks.
“I started off with karting when I was young in Japan and drove around at a local track. My father’s British; he came to UK for another karting experience and I saw the difference in the level of racing.
“The racing standards were very high in the UK, so I decided when I was 12 to move to UK for racing on my own. I started off with junior karting, my understanding of driving was really low so I had a lot to learn. I progressed a lot over the last three years, managed to get a few podiums as well and now I see British F4 as the next option.”
His assessment of pre-season was upbeat, but pragmatic ahead of what promises to be another hard-fought campaign; 30 races, 10 events and a grid full of rising stars from across the globe.
“I’m very happy with the progress and there’s still a lot to learn which I’m really happy to know,” said Bolger.
“The whole team at Carlin have been really welcoming and easy to work with, and I get on well with my new team-mates. It’s been fantastic the last few months and I’m really looking forward to the opening round next month.”
When asked about his racing heroes, Bolger cited Nico Rosberg for his mental tenacity, hard work, speed and resilience, something he aims to build into his own driving.
“Well I think it’s quite an irregular one but I quite liked Nico Rosberg. Lewis Hamilton has been ‘the one to beat’ in recent years, but Rosberg’s the one who managed to just break his rhythm and he was the one who was able to do it with his commitments so, I really like the attitude of working to the best you can and getting a result.”
Among Bolger’s CV is also a stint on the McLaren DNA programme, which he says provided him with a lot of valuable lessons about preparation on and off track, which he now builds on with his coaching team at Kokoro.
“McLaren obviously helped me massively with fitness side, mindset side, nutrition side – everything off the track that can have an impact on it. They changed me as a driver. Obviously now I’m working with a lot of other people on that as well, particularly my coaches at Kokoro Performance. The amount of confidence I have now compared to before is massive.”
The 2021 season begins at the high-speed Thruxton circuit on 08-09 May.