Zane Maloney declared his double title-winning campaign in the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost – his first in single seaters – as ‘more than I could have hoped for’.
Maloney graduated from international level karting into Britain’s FIA Formula 4 series – the first step on the FIA’s Global Pathway – with serial title winners Carlin, the Farnham outfit themselves returning to the category aiming to maintain their one-hundred percent record of title wins.
Arguably, only bad luck denied Barbados’ rising star from the top step of the podium in the opening six races, but a sublime double win at Thruxton in May – the first of which secured Maloney the £5,000 Ford Super Rookie Award for being the first Rookie entry of the season to win a race outright – set the tone for a dominant spell for Maloney.
Including his triumphs at Thruxton, he would take seven wins from eight races across the middle part of the campaign, equalling Carlin alumni Jamie Caroline’s record for four victories on the bounce. It would have been a record-breaking run, but for the initially cancelled middle race at Croft to be declared a result following a National Court ruling a month later.
The second half of the season proved a test of character for Maloney; only one win at Knockhill and a further two podiums, as well as some bad luck on Maloney’s part, gave Sebastian Alvarez the opportunity to emerge as his chief title rival as the gap between them gradually reduced, with the tension reaching fever pitch at Silverstone.
Now level on points, the pair disputed second place in the final race on the run through Brooklands and contact was made on the apex of Luffield to put both contenders out. That set up a fascinating three-race shootout for the crown at Brands Hatch – cue the music.
Maloney’s supporters in Barbados did their bit; the Paddock Hill grandstand proudly displaying the blue and golden tricolore flag every time the F4 cars hit the track in Kent – and the 16-year old rose to the occasion.
He held on despite dramatic first-corner contact with Louis Foster at Paddock in the opening race to register a ninth win of the season, but a victory of his own for Alvarez with Maloney only fifth in the reverse-grid contest appeared to have shifted the balance of power in the title fight in the Mexican’s favour.
Maloney would not be denied, however, powering clear to win the season finale – a record-equalling tenth trip of the season to the winner’s circle, matching – you guessed it – Jamie Caroline.
That, coupled with an unfortunate retirement for Alvarez, was enough to see Maloney join the likes of Lando Norris, Max Fewtrell, Caroline and Kiern Jewiss in lifting the coveted title – the first Rookie driver in the championship’s half-decade history to do so.
He also added the Rookie Cup title to his CV with seven races to spare – no mean feat – and is believed to be looking at the step up into F3 for 2020.
“This season was simply amazing. To have 10 wins and many more podiums… I’m not sure I thought it was possible coming straight out of karting,” explained Maloney.
“I began the year not knowing what to expect, and to end it with both the Rookie Cup and the overall British F4 title is more than I could have hoped for.
“The Carlin boys did an amazing job. We faced quite a challenge with only having one car’s worth of data in the second half of the season, but it never felt like a disadvantage thanks to their hard work.
“I’d also like to thank the guys at Kokoro Performance, all of my sponsors including Sol, Hard Rock Cement and Bushy Park, and everyone back in the Caribbean for their incredible support. Seeing so many Barbadian flags at Brands Hatch is something I’ll never forget.”
The race to succeed Maloney begins at Donington Park, Leicestershire, on 28-29 March, 2020. Five drivers – Frederick Lubin, Roberto Faria, Roman Bilinski, Matias Zagazeta and Marijn Kremers – have already been confirmed in the Ford EcoBoost-powered series, with more announcements due in the near future.