2018 British F4 season preview: Ford’s winning formula continues

5 APRIL, 2018 – The winning formula continues for the 2018 instalment of the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost, with the season getting underway at Brands Hatch this weekend.

2017 saw a rich crop of talent provide an abundance of scintillating wheel-to-wheel action in what was Ford’s 50th consecutive year at the forefront of junior single-seaters. Records were broken, boundaries of performance pushed and the bar raised even higher in the only single-seater series in Britain open to 15-year-old drivers.

This year British F4 boasts another top-quality field. It is headed by a four-car entry from Arden which includes the Red Bull Junior Team duo of Jack Doohan and Dennis Hauger. Doohan, son of five-time 500cc MotoGP world champion and motorcycle legend Mick Doohan, is looking to add more silverware to the family trophy cabinet and Norwegian karting talent Hauger has been rapid in pre-season, topping two official tests.

Flying Finn and podium finisher Patrik Pasma is back for 2018; while the case of “like father, like son” goes even further at Arden as Sebastian Priaulx, son of triple World Touring Car Champion and Ford GT driver Andy Priaulx, embarks upon his maiden single-seater season. Priaulx’s record speaks for itself, having most recently been crowned Ginetta Junior vice-champion with 13 podiums, including seven victories.

Another who has a name synonymous with motor racing is that of Hampus Ericsson, younger brother of F1 driver Marcus. The Fortec Motorsports ace had a stellar rookie season which saw him win the Ford F4 Challenge Cup. Johnathan Hoggard contested a handful of meetings last year and has been flying throughout winter testing. Meanwhile Lucca Allen is no stranger to the series after taking 10 Challenge Cup podiums.

JHR Developments aren’t short of experience either with Manuel Sulaimán and Ayrton Simmons returning. The pair have starred on the podium and the latter tasted victory at Brands Hatch in 2017. They should be major players alongside European karting star Josh Skelton.

Jamie Sharp and Sharp Motorsport also return. 2017 was a learning year, but that didn’t stop Sharp from showing flashes of brilliance on the way to many top-10 finishes.

Priaulx isn’t the only Ginetta Junior driver making the step up to British F4 this year. Rookie champion Kiern Jewiss is targeting the title with Double R Racing. If his pre-season testing performances are anything to go by, he’s sure to be in with a shout having topped the first official pre-season test and been on front-running pace ever since.

Paavo Tonteri and Sebastian Alvarez complete Double R’s line-up. Both are from the Infinity Sports Management stable which guided Max Fewtrell to the 2016 title and both have enviable international karting records.

Return of the Rookie
This year sees the return of the Rookie Cup in place of the Challenge Cup. Drivers who have no previous car racing experience – Alvarez, Doohan, Hauger, Skelton and Tonteri – will have even more to fight for in 2018 as they will be eligible for the Rookie Cup, along with the chance to be crowned FIA British Formula 4 Champion.

As was the case in 2015 and 2016 when Enaam Ahmed and Alex Quinn took the respective Rookie titles, entry to the Rookie Cup does not bring with it any limits on testing mileage for drivers and the winner will receive free entry to the 2019 F4 British Championship.

The Ford Super Rookie Award is also up for grabs – the first Rookie Cup entrant to win a race overall will take home £5,000. Meanwhile the Ford Triple Crown Award is open to all drivers competing in the F4 British Championship and will see the first driver to win all three races in a meeting awarded £10,000.

Experience the thrill of driving in British F4
The British F4 Virtual Reality Experience went down a storm in 2017. The great news is that it’s back for 2018, giving fans the chance to experience what it’s like to be a British F4 driver and immerse themselves in the world of motor racing like never before. The British F4 Virtual Reality Experience Zone will be located at the Ford Race Centre in the support paddock throughout the season.

Never miss the action
The F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered Ford EcoBoost will again comprise 30 races across 10 events at the UK’s premier race circuits as the sole single-seater support series for the ever-popular British Touring Car Championship. British F4 will play a starring role in front of hundreds of thousands of trackside spectators and millions more watching live and free-to-air on ITV4, ITV Hub and online at itv.com alongside extensive highlights programmes.

British F4 brings single-seater magic to Ford’s 50 years of Dunton Technical Centre celebrations

26 JULY, 2017 – The F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost played a starring role at Ford’s 50 years of Dunton Technical Centre celebrations, with three of this year’s title contenders Jamie Caroline, Oscar Piastri and Ayrton Simmons attending the event.

From thrilling test track rides to precision driving demonstrations and live music; thousands of people revelled in celebrations which saw a showcase of the many achievements and capabilities of the Ford Dunton Technical Centre, as well as the promotion of the great relationships Ford has with local organisations and charities.

The F4 British Championship brought a touch of single-seater magic to the event with the British F4 show car and Virtual Reality Experience proving a real hit, pulling in crowds throughout the day.

“It’s been great to see where the magic happens when it comes to the development of the Ford EcoBoost technology that goes into our cars and to meet the people who have worked so hard to provide us with a fantastic car that we can go racing with,” said Carlin’s Jamie Caroline. “Thanks to them, Ford has been able to build a winning reputation on the track and the road.”

Caroline, Piastri and Simmons starred as they met event-goers, signed autographs and took to the main stage to provide a fascinating insight into life as motorsport’s future stars in the UK’s leading junior single-seater series.

“Events like this give people who may not have been to one of our race weekends the chance to really get a better understanding of what we as drivers actually do and what the championship is about,” commented TRS Arden’s Ayrton Simmons.

“They’ve been able to get up close and personal with the race car and step into our shoes as a driver with the British F4 Virtual Reality Experience.”

“It was great to spend time at Dunton Technical Centre and give something back to Ford employees and their families,” added team-mate Oscar Piastri.

“Days like this are good fun for us as drivers. They are something different from our usual routine at race weekends. It’s been a great experience.

“The hot weather was a bonus. I’m an Aussie so plenty of sunshine is perfect for me, so big thanks to Ford for making that happen and even bigger thanks for inviting us to Dunton to be part of such a special day. I hope we’ll get to visit again soon.”

As the celebrations concluded, there was only one word on the drivers’ lips after they had snuck behind the wheel of the Ford Performance Mustang GT4 to sample the roar of its 5.2L V8 racing engine and draw a crowd in record time.

Explained an ecstatic Caroline: “There’s only one word I could really use to describe the day and that’s ‘Mustang’! I finally got be in the driver’s seat and rev a Mustang. I would rather do that than win the lottery. I loved it. To everyone at Ford, please can I have one? You’ve made an incredible car.”

Added Simmons: “The event has been truly amazing and I want to thank Ford for such a fantastic opportunity. As Jamie said, ‘Mustang’ is probably the one word I would use to sum it up for us as drivers. Getting in that driver’s seat was something I will never forget.”

Photography by Spencer Griffiths.

Fans get a taste of life in the fast lane with Ford’s British F4 Virtual Reality Experience

5 MAY, 2017 – With no shortage of wheel-to-wheel action so far this season, the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost continues to live up to its reputation as one of the most thrilling and competitive series. Yet it’s not just what’s taking place on track which is getting people talking. Fans have been closer to the action in a way that they could have previously only dreamed of thanks to the British F4 Virtual Reality Experience, giving them the chance to experience what it’s like to be a British F4 driver.

“This is another shining example of Ford’s continued support to keep British F4 at the forefront of the junior single-seater scene and as the benchmark for FIA Formula 4 championship’s around the world,” said Gerard Quinn, Senior Manager, Ford Performance Europe.

“The championship pioneered the first 360-degree video of any junior single-seater series and has taken it a step further with VR, raising social and digital media awareness among young, aspiring drivers.

“What we have created gives people an immersive single seat Ford EcoBoost experience which comes from a virtual driver’s seat. Showcasing the same technology that exists in Ford’s road cars such as the Fiesta ST.

“VR aligns with Ford’s aim to bring consumers the latest technology – by going further. We have already used VR with performance products such as the Mustang and new Ford GT, as well as using VR for capturing the excitement of the Ford GT racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA.”

The British F4 VR Experience comes as an evolution from the hugely successful British F4 360-degree video last year, which the championship created with its official 360-degree video provider Infinite Pixel.

“We started working with British F4 last year, but even just one year ago the camera technology at our disposal was still very much in its infancy,” explained Infinite Pixel creative director Alex Harvey.

“This time we have been able to use three cameras which are far more advanced and produce footage in higher definition. What we have made is more immersive so you can feel what it’s like to be a driver.

“The content we are providing Ford and the championship is amazing because it can sit on all platforms. It’s more than just a really cool Facebook and YouTube 360 video because the best way to experience it is with the VR headsets.”

The viewing technology comes from championship partner Samsung with its acclaimed Gear VR and Galaxy S7 phones. The quality of which was not lost on Pirtek-backed British Touring Car Champion Andrew Jordan: “The technology is very impressive. For someone to be able to experience motor racing in this way is so cool.

“The experience is not just about what goes on in the car, it’s also about everything leading up to that point, as well as after it. It’s awesome and gives an incredible insight.

“This is the first time I have tried anything like this. I’ve heard that this sort of technology is out there and it has a variety of applications, but what British F4 has done is really special.”

Fellow Pirtek-backed star and current British F4 championship leader Carlin’s Jamie Caroline was equally enthusiastic after swapping his real Ford EcoBoost-powered racer for a virtual one: “I’ve tried one of these VR experiences before and it made me feel disorientated, but this one is so smooth and seamless.

“It will give fans a better insight into what we as drivers do during a race weekend. Fans get to be right there with us, going through the data, in the garages with the teams, in the pit lane, doing race starts and racing with us, and even celebrating on the podium.

“I would 100 per cent recommend people try it. Anyone out there, if you can make it to the Ford Race Centre give British F4 VR a go. It’s mega!”

The experience features a beautiful musical score and truly thought-provoking narration on the importance of teamwork and dedication in the success of any driver.

“It really gives you a sense of what it’s like being in a race situation,” commented British F4 race winner Linus Lundqvist who drives for Double R. “The narration that accompanies the footage with the soundtrack really gets you thinking.

“It’s excellent to be part of a championship which has Ford’s backing. They invest the time, money and effort to make things like this possible. It’s a brilliant way to promote the championship and us as drivers.”

TRS Arden’s Oscar Piastri plays a starring role in the experience and was full of praise having tried it out for the first time: “In the driver briefing I turned around and saw myself which was pretty surprising and then riding in my car, racing other people was so cool.

“It’s great that the championship and Ford are constantly taking an innovative approach. It brings publicity to the series and for the drivers as well.

“This is something very unique and very special. I’m proud to be a part of an experience like this, which to my knowledge is the first of its kind in the racing world.”

Commentators have been getting in on the British F4 VR action too. “I can’t help but marvel at how brilliantly this showcases what a driver goes through on race day, from start to the finish,” said the voice of British F4, ITV Sport commentator Richard John Neil.

“Some of the camera angles and locations are remarkable. Anyone who is at a BTCC round should visit the Ford Race Centre to try this out.”

For those yet to enter the Ford EcoBoost-powered virtual world, the British F4 Virtual Reality Experience Zone will be located at the Ford Race Centre in the support paddock at Thruxton Circuit this weekend (6/7 May) and will also be at the following BTCC meetings:

20/21 May            Oulton Park
10/11 Jun             Croft
12/13 Aug            Knockhill
16/17 Sep            Silverstone
30 Sep/1 Oct        Brands Hatch GP