Joseph Loake is feeling well-adjusted to single seaters as the JHR Developments racer prepares to make his debut in the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost at Thruxton this weekend (8-9 May).
The 15-year-old took a clean sweep of victories – eight from as many starts – in BRSCC Fiesta Juniors in 2020 to end the pandemic-hit season as a dominant champion, before making the switch to Britain’s FIA Formula 4 series with Steven Hunter’s outfit.
Although the route from entry-level tin-tops into single seaters is well established, with four of the six previous British F4 champions doing so, all have come from the BTCC-support Ginetta Junior Championship, but Loake feels the career path will pay dividends in his versatility as a driver later on.
“I was racing in the BRSCC Fiesta Junior Championship in 2019 and 2020. We won every race last year and won the championship as well,” he explains.
“I don’t think there’s a bigger change that we could have made. It was, it’s definitely an unorthodox way of doing it, but I think it’s the best choice for me in my career path and it obviously opens up a lot of options in the future.
“The same as most to be fair, I think Formula 1 is where everyone wants to go, but because of my tin-top history as well, that’s going to give me a lot more options if I was to go down the touring car route or GT route as well.”
The transition to single seaters is well-documented as a big step in any driver’s development, and Loake says the Mygale M14-F4 car made quite an impression on his first runs in it during winter testing.
“It wasn’t what I was expecting, it was a lot different to the Fiesta,” he said.
“I think the first time I put my foot down fully, it was just wheel spin all the way down the straight so that was a bit of a shock but it didn’t take me long to get used to it.”
One thing Loake can transition across is his circuit knowledge, having raced in Fiesta on several circuits the championship will visit over the course of the 10-event, 30-race schedule in 2021.
But, unlike others, Loake feels the advantage will be fairly minimal, given the level playing field in adapting to a new car.
“It gives me an advantage but to be honest, because the car’s so much different it’s like I’m learning a new track anyway. So I know the layout, I know where the bumps are, I know where everything is that might be of note but, to be honest, because it’s such a different car it doesn’t make too much of a difference.”
He also praised the atmosphere in the awning at JHR, explaining that the team only puts pressure on its drivers in one regard – to go out and enjoy racing.
“I don’t really think about that to be honest, if I was to think about it too much it’d probably put too much pressure on myself, and I’d probably perform worse so I just drive as if it was just me and my dad or something, like we did in karting or in Fiestas where I’d have one mechanic.
“Obviously there is a really good team around me, probably one of the best teams in the paddock, if not the best so I think if I was to be with any team it’d be these because they don’t put any pressure on me as well. They just tell me to go out there and just drive, and when I have fun I drive fast.”
Finally, Loake paid tribute to his family’s support of his racing, which gives him an added boost heading into the biggest year of his career yet.
“My mum’s always been with me. My dad moved abroad in the latter months of last year so he’ll be coming to a few if he can but I know a lot of my family are really supportive of me.
“They’re all really behind me, they all want me to do as well as I can and they’re all onboard with it which is really nice.”