British F4 graduates win big at Autosport Awards

  • British F4 graduate Dan Ticktum scoops McLaren Autosport BRDC Award to land prize F1 test with McLaren.
  • 2015 FIA British Formula 4 Champion Lando Norris wins National Driver of the Year.
  • 2015 Rookie Champion Enaam Ahmed awarded British Club Driver of the Year.

4 DECEMBER, 2017 – British F4 graduates were out in force at last night’s glittering Autosport Awards in London, with class of 2015 stars Lando Norris, Enaam Ahmed and Dan Ticktum receiving accolades. The latter scooped one of the most coveted prizes for young drivers in motorsport, the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award, and ensured that for the second consecutive year the prestigious Award was won by a British F4 graduate.

The Award gives Ticktum the chance to test a McLaren F1 car and play a simulator role with the team, as well as full BRDC membership and an Arai crash helmet.

Fresh from his thrilling Macau Grand Prix victory just a fortnight ago, Ticktum emerged triumphant having been up against fellow British F4 graduates Max Fewtrell (2016 FIA British Formula 4 Champion), Enaam Ahmed (2015 Rookie Champion), and Harrison Scott (2013 and 2014 vice-champion) in a comprehensive test which put them through their paces.

The quartet went head-to-head over two intensive days of assessments at Silverstone in October, featuring on-track tests on the Grand Prix circuit in Formula 2, Mercedes DTM and McLaren GT3 cars, plus fitness tests conducted by McLaren.

“I had an amazing weekend in Macau and this has exceeded that,” said Ticktum.

“I cannot put into words how proud I am right now to have won this award.

“It’s been an incredible experience right from the outset. The two days were incredibly difficult and having to wait six weeks to find out who the winner was was agonising to say the least.

“People know I had a tough career to start with and there have been some very important people who believed in me, particularly Red Bull, Christian Horner, Dr Helmut Marko – they’ve given me a chance and I hope I can do them proud.

“I fought back and learned from my mistakes and my immaturity and I’m stronger because of it.”

The judging panel was led by ex-F1 driver, 1992 world sportscar champion and outgoing BRDC president Derek Warwick, and comprised two-time British Touring Car champion Jason Plato, 1997 Award winner and GT boss Andrew Kirkaldy, ex-F1 designer and engineer Mark Williams, leading circuit commentator Ian Titchmarsh, Autosport magazine editor Kevin Turner and Autosport Plus editor Scott Mitchell.

Spa 24 Hours victor and 2008 Award winner Alexander Sims was the guest judge.

“It’s such a big challenge for these guys at this stage in their career to jump into these three different cars,” said Sims.

“Dan this year was outstanding.”

Sims was joined by McLaren’s Éric Boullier, Turner and BRDC chairman John Grant to present Ticktum with the Award.

Other previous Award winners include 13-time GP victor David Coulthard, 2009 F1 world champion and 1998 Formula Ford champion Jenson Button, triple Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti, as well as Ticktum’s 2015 British F4 rival Lando Norris.

Ticktum will look to further emulate Norris in 2018. He makes the step up the FIA single-seater pyramid to the FIA European Formula 3 Championship, in which Norris took the title in his first year in the series with Carlin.

2015 FIA British Formula 4 Champion and newly crowned FIA European Formula 3 Champion Norris had plenty of reason to celebrate at the star-studded ceremony, winning National Driver of the Year. It capped another sublime year for one of motorsport’s brightest young talents, in which he was announced as McLaren’s F1 test and reserve driver for 2018.

Enaam Ahmed made it a hat-trick of British F4 success by winning British Club Driver of the Year. Having clinched the Ford EcoBoost-powered Rookie title in 2015, the 17-year-old looked unstoppable for much of this season as he romped to 13 victories from 24 races on his way to the British F3 crown. 2017 FIA British Formula 4 Champion Jamie Caroline was also nominated for the Award which was won by Norris in 2016.

Images by LAT Photographic.

Rising star Lando Norris believes British F4 has played a crucial role in his success

16 JANUARY, 2017 – Lando Norris continues his meteoric rise up the FIA single-seater pyramid, following in the footsteps of previous champions Jenson Button and Ayrton Senna to Formula 1. Nevertheless, he still found time to catch up with the series in which his single-seater career began, the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford.

As the 17-year-old reacquainted himself with the Ford EcoBoost-powered racer on the MSA stand at the Autosport International show he said: “What was at the time known as MSA Formula, and is now British F4, was my first year of single-seaters and it was undoubtedly the very best championship for me to join.

“You learn how to drive around a variety of different circuit types and on the TOCA package along with the British Touring Car Championship, which means you get a lot of media coverage.”

In 2016 Norris enjoyed success on multiple fronts, claiming both the Eurocup and Northern European Cup titles, as well as the TRS title and capped off a remarkable year by winning the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Award.

It has earned him a test in a McLaren Formula 1 car and a simulator role with the British team, all of which he reckons might not have been possible had he not cut his teeth in the UK’s leading single-seater series.

“Crucially, you learn so much more than just the basics because the racing is so close,” explained Norris.

“It means you have to be really precise. You have to be very good in qualifying and at starts for example. These are all things that you have to learn and understand to prepare for a career in motorsport. The F4 British Championship enables drivers to do this. It enabled me to do this.

“It helped me become more accurate and precise behind the wheel; to find that extra bit of lap time to be on pole or win a race. What I learned in British F4 has definitely helped me to achieve the results I have since graduating from the series.

“Ford’s backing of the championship is great and there is the possibility for drivers to progress with them with things like their Ford GT programme. There are so many positives which come as a result of competing in British F4 and that’s a good thing for youngsters to see.”

The 2015 FIA British Formula 4 Champion, who will continue his progression up the FIA single-seater pyramid in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship in 2017 with Carlin, was keen to emphasise how some of the sport’s best teams make up the British F4 grid.

“There’s a lot of top quality teams in British F4, for example Carlin who I raced with,” said Norris.

“It’s also the only single-seater series in the UK open to 15-year-olds. There are equivalent championships in Germany and Italy, but you race on more technical and unforgiving tracks in the UK than you do in those countries.

“British F4 is the category to start in.”

2015 FIA British Formula 4 Champion Lando Norris wins McLaren Autosport BRDC Award

  • 2015 Ford EcoBoost-powered star scoops McLaren Autosport BRDC Award and British Club Driver of the Year gong at Autosport Awards.
  • Norris lands prize F1 test with McLaren and a simulator role with the British team.

5 DECEMBER, 2016 – 2015 FIA British Formula 4 Champion Lando Norris capped a phenomenal 2016, which saw him claim both the Eurocup and Northern European Cup titles, as well as the TRS title, by winning the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Award.

The Award earns him a test in a McLaren F1 car and a simulator role with the British team, as well as full BRDC membership and an Arai GP-6 RC carbon crash helmet.

Norris emerged triumphant having been up against fellow British F4 graduates Ricky Collard (2016 British F3 vice champion), Toby Sowery (2016 British F3 multiple race winner) and Sennan Fielding (2016 FIA British Formula 4 vice champion) in a comprehensive test which put them through their paces.

The young stars battled it out over two intensive days of assessments at Silverstone in November which featured on-track tests on the Grand Prix circuit in Formula 2, Mercedes DTM and McLaren GT cars, plus simulator sessions and fitness tests conducted by McLaren.

Said Norris upon receiving the Award on the same night that he was crowned British Club Driver of the Year: “It’s been great, the racing success this year, but this has really topped it off.

“I need to give a lot of respect to the other drivers – Ricky, Sennan and Toby.

“I’ve raced against them for the past few years, we’ve given each other a lot of respect and they’ve made my life hard.”

The judging panel was led by former F1 driver, 1992 World Sportscar champion and BRDC president Derek Warwick, and also comprised two-time British Touring Car champion Jason Plato, McLaren’s Andrew Kirkaldy and Mark Williams, guest judge David Brabham, leading circuit commentator Ian Titchmarsh, Autosport Editor Kevin Turner and Autosport Features Editor Scott Mitchell.

Commented Warwick who was joined by Brabham, Turner and McLaren racing director Éric Boullier to present Norris with the Award: “He was one of the quickest in the DTM car, one of the quickest in the McLaren GT3 car and was stunning in the Formula 2 single-seater. He’s got a great career ahead of him. In Lando we’ve got a future Formula 1 driver and a future F1 World Champion.”

Added British F4 championship manager David Lowe: “Many congratulations to Lando. What he achieved in our championship at the age of 15 was very special and this year he has used the experience gained in F4 to go on to even greater heights.

“By winning the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award, Lando will follow in the footsteps of another of our graduates and winner of this Award 2009 F1 World Champion Jenson Button. I have no doubt that Lando will continue to be a fantastic ambassador for British F4 as he progresses up the FIA single-seater pyramid.

“It’s been a superb year for our British F4’s graduates. All four finalists for this prestigious Award have competed successfully in Ford EcoBoost-powered machinery.

“This is testament to the championship’s ability to prepare and develop the sport’s brightest young talents for a career in motor racing. We are giving drivers the foundation for success. The F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford is unquestionably the place to be.”

Images by LAT Photographic.

British F4 racer James Pull to make step up to F3

22 AUGUST, 2016 – James Pull is to make the step up to F3 in it’s final round of the season at Donington Park with Carlin and will replace last season’s FIA Formula 4 Champion of Great Britain Lando Norris who cannot attend the event. The 16-year-old’s move to the next stage up the single-seater ladder another shining example of how the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford is the ideal starting point in single-seaters; testament to British F4’s ability to prepare and propel drivers up the motorsport ladder.

In 2016 Pull has been one to watch with Carlin in the F4 British Championship and currently sits joint fourth overall in the standings with nine races still to come this season. His speed and consistency has been further underlined by an impressive tally of six podium finishes and two fastest laps over the course of what has been a competitive year in the F4 British Championship. He lies just 22 points adrift of top spot and is firmly in contention to become the FIA British Formula 4 Champion.

Said Pull ahead of his first taste of Formula 3 machinery: “It’s going to be a challenge but I’m ready for it. I have done some testing in an F3 car and my times have been good so I’m excited to be getting this opportunity. The race is at Donington which is my favourite track so that’s an added bonus for me. If I can get a couple of good results I’ll show my potential for next season.”

Said Carlin racing director Trevor Carlin: “We are delighted to welcome James [Pull] to the British Formula Three team in place of Lando [Norris] who cannot be with us. We’ve watched James develop and drive well over the course of the season in the British Formula 4 car and we’re pleased to give him the opportunity to race with us at Donington in the British Formula 3 car.”

Fraser Sheader, director of performance and management team ADD Motorsports added: “It’s a great opportunity for James to sample F3, as it’s certainly one of his options for next year. He’s had a brilliant season, finishing consistently on the podiums and he is in with a real shout of the title. We think he’s ready for the step-up and confident he will hit the ground running.”

Ford MSA Formula champion wins inaugural Henry Ford Trophy

  • Lando Norris recipient of award following his British FIA F4 title winning campaign
  • Trophy commissioned by Ford Motor Company to acknowledge human endeavour in the field of motorsports

12 February, 2016 – 2015 Ford British F4 Champion Lando Norris was the proud recipient of the inaugural Henry Ford Trophy at the BRSCC Awards last Saturday. It capped off a phenomenal year for the driver, who claimed five poles and eight race victories on his way to an emphatic title in his Ford EcoBoost powered single seater.

Norris operated at an incredibly high level throughout the 2015 season, using the Ford British F4 Championship to achieve his goals and become champion. Using the F4 concept exactly as the FIA designed, the young kart champion and now FIA F4 British Champion looks destined to climb to the top of the FIA pyramid.

The Henry Ford Trophy has been commissioned by Ford Motor Company to acknowledge human endeavour in the field of motorsports.

Awarded annually this trophy recognises the person that Ford believes has shown extraordinary endeavour throughout the year.

Said Ford Europe Racing Director Gerard Quinn who presented the award: “Henry Ford founded his company on the back of his racing exploits and we are proud that his legacy means that Ford can maintain its enablement of grass roots entry level motorsports.

“The recipient of the trophy in its inaugural year is a young man who epitomises the famous quote that Henry himself said in 1923 and which is inscribed on the trophy: ‘If people really set their minds on anything it is impossible to prevent them getting what they want’.”

A thrilled Lando commented: “I would like to say a big thank you to everyone that’s supported me this season. It’s been a great year. It’s been a very exciting year.

“Coming away with the championship and now the Henry Ford Trophy is quite an honour. To be the first of what will be a great collection of drivers to have their name upon the trophy means so much to me.”

Max Fewtrell to contest Ford-powered MSA Formula with Carlin

  • Kart championship winner joins title-winning team for MSA Formula bid
  • Sixteen-year-old says his goal is to win championship

25 January, 2016 – Kart star Max Fewtrell is the latest signing to the Ford EcoBoost-powered MSA Formula Championship; the 16-year-old from Birmingham is to team up with champion squad Carlin for his assault on the BTCC support series.

Max has a wealth of karting experience dating back to 2009; he won the Trofeo Andrea Margutti KFJ series in 2014 and finished third in the German KFJ championship the same year. Since graduating from KF in 2015, Fewtrell has gained single-seater experience in the MRF Challenge Formula 2000 Series, taking a best finish of third in Dubai against many more experienced drivers.

He hopes his partnership with Trevor Carlin’s respected outfit will be as successful as that of inaugural MSA Formula Champion Lando Norris. “I’m really excited to get going,” said Max. “Carlin is a really big name in motorsport, all the little details I learn with the team will definitely help me throughout my career. I couldn’t really ask for a better place to start my career in cars. The tests have gone really well, our pace is looking strong and I’ve been improving every time. The goal is definitely to win the championship this year, I can’t wait.”

Harry Soden of Infinity Sports Management added: “MSA Formula will be a really good stepping stone for Max. Testing has gone well, he’s been quick, eager to learn and gets on well with the team, so we’re looking forward to seeing how he progresses. With a race-winning team like Carlin supporting him, there should be no reason why Max can’t run at the front.”

Trevor Carlin, Carlin Motorsport: “We’re extremely happy to have Max in the team; he’s shown great pace in testing so far, and despite his young age he has demonstrated real maturity in the car. As his first season in car racing, no doubt 2016 will be a steep learning curve but Max has all the necessary skills to be able to be competitive from the outset.”

The opening rounds of MSA Formula – Certified by FIA, Powered by Ford EcoBoost are set for Brands Hatch in early April. The series is Britain’s official version of the FIA’s Formula 4 concept and was introduced last season as a supporting series on the live-televised British Touring Car Championship package.

MSA Formula Champion Lando Norris honoured at FIA prize-giving

  • Lando Norris joins the world’s FIA Formula 4 Champions at glittering Paris gala

5 DECEMBER, 2015 – MSA Formula title victor Lando Norris rubbed shoulders with the great and the good of world motorsport yesterday in Paris, taking the stage at the famous Lido theatre to receive the FIA Formula 4 Champion of Great Britain trophy at the glittering 2015 FIA prize-giving ceremony.

One of the youngest car-racers to be honoured at the ceremony, Lando – who turned 16 last month – was among FIA Formula 4 champions from around the globe present at the event at the iconic home of cabaret on the Champs-Elysées. Lando’s Ford EcoBoost-powered, Carlin-prepared car won eight of the 30 MSA Formula races this season.

Topping the list of champions present for the evening were 2015 FIA Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton, who accepted the drivers’ championship trophy for the third time, and former Formula Ford racer Mark Webber, one of the FIA World Endurance Championship title winners.

Champion team Carlin signs James Pull for 2016 MSA Formula squad

  • Carlin’s first signing of four is experienced MSA Formula racer
  • Team expects Pull to be a championship contender

3 DECEMBER, 2015 – Sixteen-year-old James Pull has been named by reigning MSA Formula champion team Carlin as the first driver for its four-car squad of Ford EcoBoost-powered machines for the coming season of competition in the UK’s leading junior single-seater series.

Singapore-born and Hertfordshire-based Pull has a season’s experience of MSA Formula under his belt already, thanks to podium-scoring appearances for the JTR team at the start of 2015 and late-season outings in a Fortec car. He finished his maiden full season of car racing in 10th place overall in the championship.

“I’m very excited about the season ahead,” says James. “I had some good results last year in my first season and I know we can build on that in 2016 to put together a real championship challenge. I’ve already completed some tests with the team over the last few weeks which have gone really well. We’ll be working hard between now and the first race in 2016 and already I can’t wait for the racing to get underway.”

Carlin team principal Trevor Carlin added: “We’re very pleased that James has joined the team. We could see last year that he had a good turn of speed and lots of potential. We expect to see James as a championship contender in 2016. He has been very quick and very professional in the small amount of testing we’ve done with him already.”

Carlin drivers Lando Norris and Colton Herta between them claimed a total of 12 MSA Formula race wins in 2015, with Norris taking the title FIA Formula 4 Champion of Great Britain and Herta finishing third overall in the championship.

MSA Formula – Certified by FIA, Powered by Ford EcoBoost is Britain’s official version of the FIA’s Formula 4 concept and was introduced this season as a supporting series to the British Touring Car Championship, enjoying live TV coverage and bumper raceday spectator attendance. The 2016 opening rounds are scheduled for Brands Hatch in April.

Norris claims MSA Formula prize

30 NOVEMBER, 2015 – MSA Formula Champion Lando Norris stepped up to receive the spoils of victory on Saturday night when he and the other outright winners of the BTCC and its supporting championships were honoured at TOCA’s Night of Champions. Lando, just turned 16, was presented with the handsome trophy by MSA chief executive Rob Jones; Lando’s Ford EcoBoost-powered, Carlin-prepared car won eight of the 30 MSA Formula races this season.

Also honoured on Saturday night were former Formula Ford frontrunners Dan Cammish, who took the Porsche Carrera Cup crown, and Ashley Sutton, the 2015 Renault Clio champ.

Life in the fast lane: MSA Formula season review

5 NOVEMBER, 2015 – The inaugural season of the Ford EcoBoost-powered MSA Formula Championship had everything – amazing talent, great racing, a large and appreciative trackside audience, a title fight which went down to the wire and a champion truly deserving of the crown and with a promising single-seater career ahead of him…

Over the course of the season’s 30 races nine different divers stood atop the victory podium – five of them aged under 16 – and there were race wins or top-three finishes for nine different teams running the championship’s FIA-accredited Formula 4 chassis built by French manufacturer Mygale. Drivers from Brazil, the USA and India joined their British counterparts on champagne-spraying duty.

The season kicked off in impressive style at Brands Hatch in early April – a more than appropriate venue for the launch of the modern-era successor to Formula Ford, whose genesis was at Brands in 1967. And those first races set the scene for the season to come, with eventual champion Lando Norris, 15, making history as the first ever MSA Formula race winner and going on to take a second Brands Hatch win for the Carlin team in front of ITV4’s feature race live-broadcast cameras.

Although Lando announced himself as a contender right from the outset, his progress to the crown was not all plain-sailing. After his Brands Hatch double he followed up with a reverse-grid race win at Thruxton, but did not really hit his stride until June’s Oulton Park rounds, where he topped qualifying for the first time and snatched a win and a second place. Thereafter, Norris was pretty much unstoppable in qualifying – he went on to top the timesheets at Croft, Knockhill, Rockingham and Brands GP. The other drivers to qualify quickest during the season were Dan Baybutt, Dan Ticktum, Sandy Mitchell, Colton Herta and Matheus Leist, and each of them managed it only the once. Norris was quickest five times, and he never qualified lower than second.

Qualifying well made the racing all the easier for Norris, of course: he collected a total of eight victories, the last of them – at Brands in October – leaving him needing only a handful of points to secure the dual titles FIA Formula 4 Champion of Great Britain and MSA Formula Champion. Those points were duly gathered up in the second Brands Hatch GP outing, with a race in hand.

It was only at that point that Lando’s chief rival for the title, TRS Arden driver Ricky Collard, was prepared to concede defeat. Ricky, with a season of single-seater experience under his belt thanks to a promising rookie year in Formula Ford in 2014, was a great competitor and led the points table for a good chunk of the season thanks to his never-say-die attitude. He took deserved wins at Brands, Oulton, Croft, Knockhill, Rockingham and Silverstone but was never really able to hook it all up in qualifying, and that was a handicap. Crashes in qualifying at Rockingham and pre-race testing at Brands came at exactly the wrong moment for his title hopes. Nonetheless Ricky is a deserving championship runner-up and finished well clear of his closest rival.

Norris’s Carlin team-mate Herta came to the championship as its youngest competitor – he was only five days past his 15th birthday at the outset – and the Californian, son of IndyCar racer winner Bryan Herta, took a little time to adapt to the car, the circuits and the country. A second-place finish at Croft in June hinted at good things to come and Colton returned from the summer break a new driver; twin wins followed at Snetterton and then single victories at Rockingham and in the final round at Brands Hatch to secure championship third. Oddly, Colton scored both the narrowest and widest wins of the year, both of them in front of Norris: 0.248s at Rockingham and 7.560s at Brands.

Another of the revelations of the season’s second half was 15-year-old Enaam Ahmed, who came into single-seater racing with a great karting pedigree as part of the talented TRS Arden trio. By his own admission he struggled early on, but he worked hard at it and came back at Knockhill in August to claim his first Rookie class victories. The Rookie class championship was pretty much in the pocket of 16-year-old Dan Ticktum until an entirely avoidable crash at Silverstone earned the Fortec driver a track ban; Ahmed stepped up to the plate to take the class three times at the Brands Hatch finale – as well as his maiden outright race victory – and claim the Rookie championship honours.

There were several other MSA Formula heroes, not least those who won races: Double R’s talented Brazilian driver Leist, young Scots star and TRS Arden team member Mitchell, JHR Developments’ experienced hand Sennan Fielding and Racing Steps Foundation driver Josh Smith. Then there those who made the lower steps of the podium, such as James Pull, twice a third-place finisher for JTR; Double R’s other Brazilian, Gustavo Myasava; JTR’s Baybutt; SWB Motorsport man Rafael Martins; Indian racer Tarun Reddy for Double R; Richardson Racing’s Louise Richardson and MBM Motorsport man Toby Sowery.

There are honourable mentions also for championship regulars Petru Florescu (Carlin), Jack Barlow (MBM), Jack Butel (SWB/JHR), Jessica Hawkins and Darius Karbaley (Falcon); Ollie Pidgley and Greg Holloway (Richardson Racing) and Ameya Vaidyanathan (JTR).

In all, it was an inaugural season to remember for MSA Formula, Certified by FIA, Powered by Ford EcoBoost, and one which bodes well for future years and for the career development of Formula 1’s stars of seasons to come.

Championship positions and prize winners
Overall champion Lando Norris
Runner-up Ricky Collard
Third overall Colton Herta
Rookie champion Enaam Ahmed
Teams Cup Carlin
Nations Cup USA