- Two of motorsport’s most popular stars Mark Webber and Mick Doohan attend British F4 Media Day.
- Webber excited to continue following the progress of compatriot and Red Bull Junior Team driver Jack Doohan.
20 MARCH, 2018 – The F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost was joined by motor racing greats from the world of two and four wheels at last week’s Media Day at Rockingham Motor Speedway. Nine-time Grand Prix winner and 2015 FIA World Endurance Champion Mark Webber, as well as Mick Doohan who won five consecutive 500cc World Championships from 1994 to 1998, came to cast an eye over British F4’s class of 2018 and follow the progress of Mick’s son Jack who will race with Arden this season.
Like Mick Doohan, Webber has raced motorcycles. The Aussie did so very early in his career, but switched to four wheels when he began karting aged 14.
Car racing soon beckoned and similarly to so many motorsport legends, much of Webber’s early single-seater career was powered by Ford. It began in the Australian Formula Ford Championship before he went on to finish third in the 1995 Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch.
More Formula Ford success followed when he took four victories on his way to second in the 1996 British Formula Ford Championship. He was victorious in the Formula Ford Festival that year and in the Formula Ford Euro Cup at Spa-Francorchamps, taking third in the series despite only competing in two of the three rounds.
Jack Doohan is now looking to follow in the footsteps of Webber with Ford EcoBoost power, making the step up from karting to single-seaters in British F4 and Webber is keen to see how his compatriot and son of close friend Mick will fare.
“I have followed Jack through karting,” said Webber. “I have kept an eye on him because Mick and I are pretty tight so it’s natural for me to be interested in Jack’s progress. I would love to see him do really well.
“If I have got any ideas on one or two things that can make even just one or two per cent improvement then I would love to be able to help. I’m always open to little chats here and there.
“I’m going to try to come to a few race weekends. I know Andy Priaulx well. He’s a great bloke and his son Sebastian is racing in British F4 with Arden too. The team looks very strong in what is a very competitive series.”
The F4 British Championship is Britain’s official version of the FIA’s Formula 4 concept which was introduced in 2015. Designed to be a globally recognised, yet affordable step between karting and Formula 3, it is the ideal category for drivers to make their first strides to Formula 1 on the FIA single-seater pyramid.
Formula 4’s emergence has established a clear path from karting into single-seaters, something which Webber welcomes: “Formula 4 wasn’t around when I was coming up through the ranks,” he explained.
“Seeing that there is now a clear single-seater category to go to from karts is great, especially with the different F4 series around the world.
“British F4 is so good because the tracks are very technical. It’s unbelievably competitive and a brilliant proving ground for youngsters.
“The first year in cars is a big step for every driver. F4 is a nice format with the power to weight ratio, a little bit of aero and slick tyres. On top of that it’s a category which teaches racecraft.”
Doohan arrives on the single-seater scene with the support of Red Bull as a member of their Junior Team, along with Arden team-mate Dennis Hauger, and Webber paid testament to Red Bull for leading the way in bringing young drivers through the ranks.
“Having seen what the likes of Max [Verstappen] have achieved at such an early age, things have really changed in the last five to six years,” he said.
“Young drivers are getting into Formula 1 now and there’s a lot of expectation placed upon them to deliver.
“Red Bull are the pioneers with regard to pulling this off. Sebastian [Vettel] and Max were very young and Daniel [Ricciardo] was a little bit older.”
With the start of the 2018 season just weeks away, Webber was keen to impart some wise words of wisdom to British F4’s latest crop of rising single-seater stars: “You’ve got to work really hard with the team, understand what you want from the car, work on your weaknesses and keep your consistency really high,” he said.
“Qualifying is important too. If you can qualify high up the grid and get good starts that’s a big part of putting a race weekend together.
“You should never be too shy to work on your weaknesses. I have seen it at every level of motorsport, including the very top.
“Even Schumacher and Vettel have had areas they have had to work on more than others. They’ve always understood that and worked hard with the team around them to become stronger.”
The 2018 F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost gets underway on 7/8 April at Brands Hatch. The series will go on to visit the UK’s premier race circuits, including Silverstone which is home to the British Grand Prix – a race which Webber won in both 2010 and 2012.