For over 30 years Fortec Motorsport have been one of the leading lights in single seater racing, both at home and in Europe, helping develop young drivers such as Charles Leclerc, Daniel Ricciardo and Juan Pablo Montoya into future F1 stars. Today that stairway to success starts with Fortec’s team in ROKiT F4 British Championship certified by FIA.
In their British F4 journey so far, the Daventry-based outfit have scored over 30 victories and clinched the 2020 title with Luke Browning. This season Fortec finished second in the teams’ standings are targeting more success when the new Tatuus-Abarth F4 machine hits the track in 2022.
Under the guidance of former driver manager Richard Dutton (and his son Oliver) over the past three decades the team have established a proven track record of success in the junior formulas. Richard Dutton’s personal journey with Fortec started in 1993 when he was appointed team manager of their FIA Formula 3000 operation. Two years later he took ownership of Fortec with the goal of developing young drivers and guiding them towards Formula 1.
In subsequent years Fortec expanded across the single-seater categories, creating an impressive portfolio from entry-level Formula BMW, across Formula Renault 2.0, Formula 3 and into the more powerful-spec cars in World Series by Renault 3.5 and FIA Formula 2. During that time talented aces such as Sam Bird, Stoffel Vandoorne, Alex Lynn, Robert Frijns and Mike Conway all had success with the team.
But while the larger operation has reduced in size in recent years, the goal hasn’t changed from the original vision to develop the next generation of Formula 1 talent. “It’s really important for me to be able to help young drivers and watch them grow in both confidence and ability as they come through the ranks with us,” says team boss Richard Dutton.
“We all want to win races, but our priority is to develop talent by pushing together as a team and it’s great to observe the progress drivers make with us. Some other teams seem to exist for different reasons, but that’s the priority for Fortec.”
After working in Formula 1 as manager to Brazilian Ricardo Rosset, Dutton quickly began to understand the support young drivers need to progress to the very top. One of the secrets to the team’s success was to nurture up-and-coming stars, particularly those who had travelled from overseas to commence their single-seater career in the UK.
“In the past drivers from Brazil or Central America have sometimes found it hard to leave their roots and come to England where they have to adapt to living in a new country, while being so far from their family at such a young age,” says Dutton. “But racers such as Heikki Kovalainen and Marcus Ericsson from Scandinavia have enjoyed the atmosphere and welcoming environment at Fortec which allows them to feel comfortable and that gives them the confidence to excel behind the wheel.
“Other teams don’t like their drivers being in the workshop, but we’re the opposite. We want them at our HQ, we want them to see how the cars are prepped, for them to come into the gym and drive the simulator. We encourage our drivers to get involved with their mechanics and to get a better understanding of how the car works.”
In 2020 British racer Luke Browning was crowned F4 champion after scoring seven victories across the season. The British driver was the latest in a long line of competitors who have stayed at Fortec while graduating to the next category in their career, in Browning’s case GB3 in 2021.
“One of the important things for us is that we treat everybody who is racing with us as a family member,” says Dutton. “You may notice that in the past we have always kept the drivers that have done Formula Renault with us, then F3, then World Series and they’ll stay with us for quite a long time. That’s because they feel part of a family with us.”
Fortec will be hoping to keep up their winning streak in British F4 in 2022, after taking one of their drivers to the top of the podium in all but one season of the championship so far.