Aiden Neate on British F4: ‘I’m going for P1 – short and simple’

With substantial single-seater experience under his belt, Aiden Neate is going for the top spot in British F4’s 2022 championship. F1 Feeder Series spoke to the Argenti Motorsport driver, discussing his upcoming season in British F4, his consistency in F4 UAE, and his overall career hopes. 

By Aisha Sembhi

At only 15 years old, Aiden Neate has already established himself as someone to beat. His 2022 season so far has seen a dominant performance in F4 UAE, where Neate finished third overall, which followed a 9th place finish in British F4 last year. This year, Neate hopes to combine Argenti’s progress with his own personal development in order to chase the top spot. 

2021 single-seater debut

Last season saw Neate join the British F4 season late, missing out on point scoring opportunities at Thruxton and Snetterton. “I actually wasn’t old enough to compete in the first two races!” Neate explains, “I turned 15 on the Friday of the third weekend at Brands Hatch, so I didn’t actually have a license before then.”

Neate competed with Argenti Motorsport, finishing 9th overall in the Drivers’ Championship, and securing three podiums.  “I knew Argenti was strong beforehand, and this gave me a lot of confidence going into my first race,” Neate explains, “From there, it was a process of learning, adapting, and building on what we already had.”

I knew Argenti was strong beforehand, and this gave me a lot of confidence going into my first race

Aiden Neate

“I finished 6th in my first race at Brands Hatch, which I was really happy with. It took a little while to get that first podium, but we got there at Crofts! That was a nice turning point for me, and a massive confidence boost. It showed that I had the pace to fight at the front.”

“My favourite moment from 2021 was the last race at Brands. It was a difficult weekend, to say the least! Going from P9 to P3 at that last race, on a track where it’s difficult to overtake, was a really cool moment.”

Aiden Neate 2021
Aiden Neate (Argenti Motorsport) at Oulton Park in British F4 in 2021 | Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

British F4 2022

When discussing his goal for the year ahead, Neate is determined to come out on top: “I’m going for the championship. I’m going for P1 – short and simple.”

In chasing this goal, Neate points out the advantage of staying with Argenti this year. “I’m really happy to be staying with the same team – it’s nice to have that bit of consistency, which I haven’t really had in the last four years. The team’s done a great job, and I’m feeling confident going into the first round.”

“We’ve made a lot of progress. There’s definitely still some finetuning to do, but if we get those bits sorted, I think we can have a really good season.”

Mentally, I’m a lot stronger now. Mental strength is something I’ve really tried to work on recently

Aiden Neate

Beyond working with his team, Neate’s preparation has involved strength training, both physically and mentally. “Mentally, I’m a lot stronger now. Mental strength is something I’ve really tried to work on recently. It’s being able to close the visor and say ‘I can do this, I can drive, and I’m the best on the track’. That sounds like a really big-headed thing to say! But if you don’t think like that, the results will never show anything close to what you’re capable of.”

Regarding the competition ahead, Neate highlights the strengths of his teammate, Daniel Guinchard. “I think Daniel’s going to be very fast. He’s shown that in testing, and we’ve always been very close to each other. I have a bit of an advantage, in that I’ve already done single-seaters, so there’s less need to adapt to a new challenge – but he’s doing a really good job regardless.”

“It’s going to be a really good battle – hopefully nothing too intense for the team!”

F4 UAE 2022

British F4 will not be Neate’s only endeavour this year. He had a successful season in the 2022 Formula 4 UAE Championship, finishing 3rd overall in the Drivers’ Championship with Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema. Despite achieving several podium finishes throughout the season, as well as a top-three overall finish, Neate described his longing for the top spot: “I was slightly disappointed with P3 because I was leading the championship at one point – but it’s all relative. If you had told me 6 weeks prior that I was going to finish 3rd, I would’ve been over the moon.”

On his UAE stint, Neate describes his breakthrough with Prema Powertrains: “When you join Prema, you know you’re going to have fast teammates. They don’t take slow drivers on the team – they never have, and they never will.”

When you join Prema, you know you’re going to have fast teammates. They don’t take slow drivers on the team

Aiden Neate

“Obviously, there’s different reasons why some teams struggle more than others, but no matter what team you’re with, as long as you’re competing with your teammates, that’s the important thing.” Neate points out, “With Prema, my teammates are Ferrari and Mercedes Academy drivers – you know they’re fast, and you know they’re good. So it was a nice feeling to know I was doing a good job keeping up with them!”

Neate immediately established himself as a strong driver, finishing 2nd in the first round at Yas Marina Circuit. “That first weekend – to stick it on the front row for Prema in the first qualifying session – was a nice confidence boost. Unfortunately, we never did get the win, which was frustrating, but we were always there at the front – that’s the important thing.”

“By the time we got to the races we were always fast. The first 3 weekends, every single time we were very, very quick in the races.  It calmed the nerves a bit, to be honest, knowing that I was going out in the package you always have with Prema.”

Aiden Neate (Argenti Motorsport) after a Rookie Cup podium finish at Knockhill in British F4 | Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Driver profile and personal strengths

When discussing his strengths, Neate points out a primary skill that has been instilled in him throughout his career so far: “I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve heard the word ‘adaptability’!” Neate laughs, “That’s probably my main strength. I try to learn as much as I can from the engineering side of things too, so when I’m in the car, I can adapt easily. If there’s something slightly wrong, like imbalance, I can do something to still be fast.”

As is the case throughout F4 championships, Neate’s age potentially presents some personal challenges to overcome in the pursuit of success. However, he has no qualms with his career so far. “Being a young driver, there are ups and downs. There are times where I do find it a bit overwhelming, but, at the end of the day, this is something I want to do, and I would never change it for the world.”

“I left school when I was 12 because I was starting European Karting, which is super demanding. There was a lot of time away, and school became difficult. But it’s not something I dwell on – in the grand scheme of things, it’s a small sacrifice for something that could be huge.”

There are times where I do find it a bit overwhelming, but, at the end of the day, this is something I want to do, and I would never change it for the world

Aiden Neate

“I’m currently homeschooling – I was actually meant to do my exams six months early, but then I was competing in UAE!” Neate points out, “You just can’t complain. So many people would love to be in the position I’m in, so I can’t sit there and go ‘I wish I wasn’t doing this hour of revision’, because I could definitely be doing something way worse.”

Neate attributes his perseverance to a unique benefit that exists within the world of motorsport – a sense of community: “I have a lot of amazing people around me. In motorsport, everyone’s a big family. I was in Snetterton the other day, and I ended up having a random conversation with a guy I didn’t know – it’s because you know you have something in common. Having that community in the sport is really nice.”

When discussing his motorsport heroes, Neate hopes to emulate the success of one specific driver: “I love what Lewis Hamilton has done, as a driver. To come into F1 in 2007, and finish 2nd to a point to Kimi [Raikonnen] – it’s just insane. No one can say anything about his capability. You think about his iconic Singapore lap in 2017, and you just think, ‘that’s someone who knows what they’re doing, and is super dedicated’ I want to achieve that too. Plus, both of us being British is quite nice!”

Future

When discussing the future, Neate has one primary aim: “The pinnacle goal is F1 World Champion.”

The immediate future, however, is more malleable. “I’m definitely looking to make a step up beyond F4, since I’m turning 16. I couldn’t actually do anything else this year, other than F4, because of my age.”

“We’re not exactly sure what’s next at the moment,” Neate explains, “The obvious next step is Formula Regional. But I’m the only person who can truly say whether or not I’m ready, and I know I don’t need to rush anything massively.”

On ascending the feeder series ladder, Neate illustrates the journey ahead. “If you look at the guys in F2 now, they’re in their 20s – I think I’ve got time. But, obviously, you’ve got 60 kids in F4, 30 in F3, and 20 in F2 – we all go in with the exact same goal. So, it’s not easy.”

The obvious next step is Formula Regional. But I’m the only person who can truly say whether or not I’m ready

Aiden Neate

“It’s a matter of ‘right place, right time’, as is the case throughout the entire single-seater ladder.” Neate says, “If there’s a backmarker team, but it’s the only available seat, you have to ask yourself, is it worth taking another year in regional to build yourself as a driver, and then prove yourself to a bigger team? By that point, you’d know you’re ready.”

“I actually saw an interview with Lando [Norris] – when you’re going through that ladder, you constantly compare yourself with other people, thinking ‘am I doing better than him? Am I doing better than her?’. That’s the truest thing ever. The second you get over that mental block, and believe you’re doing a good job, progression is possible.”

Neate’s competitive nature goes hand in hand with a realistic approach to his future “It’s also a matter of ‘right place, right time, right funding’ – it all has to be on a plate, as well as ensuring you’re doing a bloody good job!”

Header photo credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

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