Fortec Motorsport’s Luke Browning is aiming to regroup and strike back ahead of a pivotal final month in the 2020 F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost title fight.
Sophomore racer Browning enjoyed a stellar first half of the season, taking five race victories – including a hat-trick at Oulton Park and a record-equalling four in a row – to propel himself into a comfortable championship lead.
But a tougher spell behind the wheel in recent rounds, with a pair of third-place finishes the highlight from the last eight races, has enabled his closest title challenger Zak O’Sullivan (Carlin) to hit form and close the gap in the standings to just 13 points with six races left to run.
With Argenti’s Casper Stevenson enjoying a record-equalling run of podiums and his maiden victories to propel himself into the mix, and neither JHR’s James Hedley nor Arden’s Alex Connor out of contention, Britain’s FIA Formula 4 series is now set for a thrilling, five-way shootout for the crown across the final two meeting at Snetterton and Brands Hatch Indy.
But the message from Browning’s camp is clear – the fight back starts now.
Reflecting on a mixed weekend at Croft for the 18-year old, Browning explained that just missing out on pole position in qualifying – in the case of second-fastest times by virtue of Stevenson setting their identical lap times first – gave him an uphill task from there.
“Qualifying was the best part of the weekend really, which is a rare one for us,” said Browning.
“But it was just a bit of a shocking weekend on my behalf, I performed very well in qualifying, my theoretical time was two tenths up the road and we should have been on double pole pretty comfortably.
“I made it difficult for myself in that sense because if I’d have started first I’d have found it a lot easier just to drive off.”
“In race one I made a mistake and went straight on at the first corner, and I managed to recover into sixth but it just didn’t really go to plan.”
One highlight of the ITV4-televised finale on Sunday for Browning was a new lap record around the 2.1-mile Yorkshire circuit, the Cheshire-based driver clocking a 1:19.521 to narrowly beat reigning champion Zane Maloney’s time from last year.
Third place behind Stevenson and O’Sullivan also meant a return to the rostrum, giving Browning some momentum heading into the final six races.
“Race two was a solid race, we’ve got the lap record around there now which is pretty cool. If we’d be on pole it’d have been a different story,” says Browning.
“We need to have some more and more positive rounds now, we’ve had a couple of bad rounds, the last three just haven’t been very strong for whatever reason.
“I knew they weren’t going to be the most strong, Snetterton and Brands are two of my strongest tracks – I really do expect to hopefully be on pole there and drive off into the distance!
“That would be lovely, but that’s not always how racing works out. I know our pace is going to be fast, the car feels quick and if everything comes together I guess we’ll aim for the triple again!”
Looking ahead to an intense final six races of the season – including a battle between Browning’s Fortec team and nearest challengers Carlin for the Teams Cup honours – Browning is in pragmatic mood and aiming to strike back, starting at Snetterton next week.
“They’ve got to score 13 more points than me, so if I get a few wins before the end of the season now I’ll be absolutely clear and I don’t see why that can’t happen.”