Ayrton Senna, Eddie Irvine, Jenson Button – what do these Formula 1 legends have in common? They were champions of the British Formula Ford Championship, an entry-level category designed to propel promising karting graduates to motorsport fame. Rebranded as FIA-certified British F4 in 2015, the championship continues to deliver on its promise of introducing us to the F1 stars of tomorrow. Here is F1 Feeder Series’ guide to the hotly-contested 2022 British F4 championship.
By Aisha Sembhi
‘British F4’ may be a relatively new championship branding, but it is by no means unimpressionable. Its champions are no stranger to progression within the feeder series ladder – 2020 champion Luke Browning is currently dominating the early rounds of the 2022 GB3 season, and 2019 champion Zane Maloney has made the crucial step into FIA Formula 3. And, of course, British F4’s inaugural champion, Lando Norris, has made it to the top flight of motorsport, competing in Formula 1 with McLaren since 2019.
The 2022 season introduces a new generation of young drivers with similar ambitions, all hoping to prove themselves in the earliest stage of their single-seater careers.
Teams and drivers
The 2022 British F4 grid boasts an impressive three drivers belonging to F1 academies.
The first is Daniel Guinchard (#49), a Mercedes-AMG Petronas junior, who will make his single-seater debut with Phinsys by Argenti Motorsport. Prior to this, Guinchard claimed the Ultimate Karting Championship and the British Kartmasters Grand Prix on Rotax Junior title. He is joined at Argenti by Aiden Neate (#57), who finished third overall in F4 UAE 2022 earlier this year, and ninth in last year’s British F4 season after missing the first two rounds. Irish rookie Adam Fitzgerald (#88) completes the team’s lineup, making his single-seater debut three years after launching his karting career in 2019.
Carlin is home to two F1 academy drivers – Oliver Gray (#63), of the Williams Academy, and Ugo Ugochukwu (#31), belonging to McLaren. 2022 marks Gray’s second season in British F4, departing from Fortec Motorsport after finishing seventh in the standings. Ugochukwu’s graduation to single-seater racing follows a series of karting championship titles, including the FIA OKJ European Championship in 2020. Rookie Louis Sharp (#11) completes the Carlin trio – earlier in 2022, Sharp finished fifth overall in the South Island Formula Ford Championship before making the step up for F4.
Last year’s constructor’s champions, JHR Developments, have signed Australian rookie Noah Lisle (#14), whilst retaining Georgi Dimitrov (#23) and Joseph Loake (#84). Lisle is relatively new to the world of motorsport – he came 18th overall in the Australian KA2 karting championship in 2021. In comparison, Dimitrov, racing under the British flag in 2022, has notable F4 experience, winning three races in his rookie British F4 season last year. This was preceded by his success in Ginetta Junior, where he finished fourth in 2020. Loake remains with JHR for a second year running, also gaining experience with the new Tatuus T-421 after a short stint in F4 UAE earlier this year.
Virtuosi Racing, a team well known for its success in FIA Formula 2, will make its F4 debut this year, with Edward Pearson (#3) and Michael Shin (#2) completing its line-up. Pearson is a recent karting graduate, gaining experience in the entry-level Ginetta Junior sportscar series in 2021. Shin’s place with Virtuosi was confirmed in early March, following a short spell with JHR in F4 UAE.
Eduardo Coseteng (#16) rejoins Hitech GP for a second season, departing from Argenti. The Filipino driver secured two podiums over the course of his 2021 campaign. Coseteng is joined by teammates, Oliver Stewart (#4), and Daniel Mavlyutov (#5), who make their British F4 debuts. Stewart is a recent karting graduate, coming fourth in the British Karting Championship for Junior X30 karts in 2021. Mavlyutov, on the other hand, has little experience to showcase, with his F4 stint only being preceded by the Formula Ford Festival in October 2021.
The season also marks Chris Dittmann Racing’s first British F4 entry, following successful participation in GB3 and F3 Cup. Joel Pearson (#29), is the team’s only confirmed driver thus far. Pearson was due to compete in the 2021 season with Argenti Motorsport – however, he withdrew from the championship following a diagnosis of bone cancer.
Fortec Motorsport are expected to complete the team lineup – however, as of 18 April 2022, they are yet to make a driver announcement.
British F4 Calendar
The season kicks off at Donington Park, Leicestershire, on 23 April 2022. Drivers will then race around the historic Brands Hatch and Thruxton circuits in Kent and Hampshire respectively, before heading to Oulston Park, Cheshire for the championship’s fourth weekend.
Croft Circuit, North Yorkshire, and Knockhill Racing Circuit, Fife, follow, commencing on 25 June 2022 and 30 July 2022 respectively. Snetterton Motor Racing Circuit, Norfolk, will host the seventh round, before the drivers revisit Thruxton for round eight.
The penultimate race takes place at Silverstone Circuit, Northamptonshire, the home to the British Grand Prix since 1948. The championship culminates with a second visit to Brands Hatch, this time on the Grand Prix circuit, beginning on 8 October 2022.
Round 1: 23-24 April – Donington Park, Leicester
Round 2: 14-15 May – Brands Hatch, Kent
Round 3: 28-29 May – Thruxton Circuit, Hampshire
Round 4: 11-12 June – Oulton Park, Cheshire
Round 5: 25-26 June – Croft Circuit, North Yorkshire
Round 6: 30-31 July – Knockhill Racing Circuit, Fife
Round 7: 13-14 August – Snetterton Motor Racing Circuit, Norfolk
Round 8: 27-28 August – Thruxton Circuit, Hampshire
Round 9: 24-25 September – Silverstone Circuit, Northamptonshire
Round 10: 8-9 October – Brands Hatch, Kent
The Championship follows a 10-week schedule over the course of six months, with each weekend consisting of three rounds.
One official Saturday qualifying session occurs per weekend, with each driver’s fastest lap time determining the grid order for round one, and the second-fastest doing the same for round three.
The second round is unique, in that it features a ‘reversed’ grid – here, the driver who achieves the fastest qualifying time starts at the back of the grid. This format was introduced in 2021, to positive reception. Championship promotor Sam Roach described the 2021 round two change as a “shake-up”, designed to prioritize driver development over all else: “The reversed-grid race gives drivers at both ends of the grid a real opportunity to hone their racecraft, practice attacking and defending, and really put ins a shift to bring home the results they need, wherever in the standings they may be.”
Each weekend, the top ten classified finishers in races one and three are awarded points in accordance with the FIA-standardized system: 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1. The points system for the second round differs, with only the top eight classified finishers being scored 15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1.
As is the case in F1, an additional point is awarded to the driver who achieves the fastest lap. A ‘Rookie Cup’ is also awarded to the debutant driver who finishes highest in the Driver’s Championship.
The British F4 Championship supports the 2022 British Touring Car Championship, following its parent championship through the United Kingdom. As a supporting series, all thirty races will be free to air on ITV4.
Header photo credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography
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