Success in any sport is about sacrifice and, for New Zealander Louis Sharp, his journey to compete in the ROKiT F4 British Championship certified by FIA has seen him uproot his life and move some 11,500 miles in pursuit of the ultimate dream.
The 14-year-old from Christchurch has joined Carlin for his full-time graduation into single seaters, having contested eleven races – of which he won five and finished on the podium in ten – in Formula Ford back home during 2021.
Having settled into his new surroundings and had the opportunity to test the new Tatuus T-421, Sharp reflected on a busy period in his life as his plans to reach the top intensify.
“It’s definitely been a big change coming over here,” he explained.
“Of course, the time difference is huge, so it’s been a bit different, and the weather as well. It’s a lot colder here, but I’m really enjoying it. It’s been really good so far; we’ve done a bit of testing and I’m really enjoying it all.
“It’s going to be a big step up, of course, Formula Ford doesn’t have slick tyres or any downforce or anything, so I’m transitioning into that. But yeah, I’m really enjoying it so far and I’m excited and keen to learn and just take it all in and get as much experience as I possibly can.”
Sharp also arrives with the same backing from Rodin Cars, and founder David Dicker, as compatriot Liam Lawson, now flying high in FIA Formula 2, with the same aim of accelerating his progression through the single seater ranks in years to come.
“Rodin Cars and David Dicker, I can’t thank them enough!” said Sharp.
“Without them, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t be able to, I guess, progress in my career the way I want to. So, I can’t thank them enough for the support they’ve given me.
“In the future, I guess we’re going to hoping to stay together. The goal was for me to get to Formula 1, so as long as I’m doing well, I think they’re keen to support me and keen to help me out.
“To be honest, it’s all a bit surreal. It happened very quickly. I pretty much knew I was coming over here less than a month before it actually happened. So, it all happened pretty much out of the blue, but it’s been really, really good so far.”
The late nature of Sharp’s deal to join the grid for 2022 has also left him playing catch-up with Carlin in terms of pre-season testing, but the partnership is already starting to bear fruit, and he delivered the eighth-quickest time at the latest official test, just 0.4 seconds shy of second-year driver Joseph Loake.
“I’ve been here for three weeks, and it’s been really full on so far, but it’s been really good,” explains Sharp.
“Of course, Carlin are a great team. They’ve got a really, really strong background in not only British F4, but the higher ranks such as F3 and F2.
“So, I’m thrilled to be part of a team like that. It’s really good and I’m very happy, and thankful to be a part of that environment. And they’ve been really supportive, I’ve learnt so much since I’ve been here.”
Due to his age, Sharp will be ineligible to contest the season opener at Donington Park in a fortnight and has measured his expectations for the remaining nine events he will be able to compete at accordingly.
“Unfortunately, I won’t be able to race the first the first round, but to be honest, our goal for the season is just to get as much experience as possible and just to get a feel of the different type of racing over here and in Europe,” said Sharp.
“So, although it would be good to be able to race all the rounds, I think in terms of our goals and expectations, it’s not going to it’s not going to harm that too much.
“Everyone wants to win. I mean, I’m here to win, but we’re not expecting it, to be honest. The expectation for the season is just to get as much experience as possible.”
Once he joins the fray, Sharp will be one of 15 rising stars currently committed to a new era for ROKiT British F4, ahead of the first season under new organisers Motorsport UK.
Headline changes include the new Tatuus T-421, second-generation FIA Formula 4 car, as well as the introduction of Abarth engines and Pirelli tyres.
The series remains on the high-profile British Touring Car Championship support package, with 30 races across ten events, starting at Donington Park on 22-24 April, live on ITV4.