Poland has produced a number of talented drivers since Robert Kubica burst onto the scene in Formula One in 2006. One of these young drivers is Tymoteusz Kucharczyk, one of only four drivers to win a race this year in Spanish F4. F1 Feeder Series spoke to him ahead of the championship’s resumption in Aragon.
By Oorjit Mishra
Born in 2006 in Lodygowice, near Poland’s border with Czechia, Kucharczyk inherited his love for motorsport from his father, who was an amateur rally driver.
“After he finished with his car because I was born, he used to drive rental karts with my uncle. Once I went with them, and that’s how it basically [started], when I was about four years old. Then we started to drive here in Poland and Czech Republic.”
Kucharczyk began competing in regional karting events after turning five and continued to do so until 2015, when he made the step into Italian and European competition and raced in the WSK Super Master series. Kucharczyk said travelling every month from his home in Poland to Italy for races made it harder to form friendships.
“Since like nine, I have [had] my personal coach who I train with in Poland, so I think that’s not a problem. And also he travels with me sometimes. I think my race is not affected, but for example, relationships with friends here [in Poland] or with the school because I was mostly absent. But I think I made up many times for it, and I work quite hard also at school. I don’t find it a problem.”
Kucharczyk balanced life on and off the track well and soon made his way to the front of the field in European karting, finishing third in the OK class of the WSK Euro Series in 2021. He achieved that in a field that included a number of drivers affiliated with Formula 1 teams, including Spanish F4 leader and Alpine Affiliate Nikola Tsolov, Red Bull’s Arvid Lindblad, McLaren’s Ugo Ugochukwu and Mercedes’ Andrea Kimi Antonelli.
That achievement did not go unnoticed, as Kucharczyk was invited to participate in the Richard Mille Young Talent Academy shoot-out by Birel ART. He won it and earned a fully funded drive with MP Motorsport in Spanish F4 for this year. It was, as Kucharczyk explained, another in a series of lucky breaks that allowed him to race, much less fight for wins with top teams in karting and F4.
“I raced with Birel only since 2020. I could make the return Mille shootout, which I won, which gave me the free seat for this season. Everything just got up to the point that someone was supporting me – like, I drove for free or something, or with super cheap price. I always got lucky with that, Otherwise, I wouldn’t even be able to race,” Kucharczyk said.
Since 2017, I got really lucky with the person who I met to [give] me super cheap price or even sometimes for free race as well.Tymoteusz Kucharczyk
“Since 2017, I got really lucky with the person who I met to [give] me super cheap price or even sometimes for free race as well. Since 2020, a big sponsor from Poland, Orlen, started to sponsor me so I could race for Birel, and also because of that, we met up with Robert [Kubica]. He supported my last year in Birel.
“For now, we still don’t know about the future. We’ll see how it will be with money because I think it’s all about it right now. If we find a sponsorship, I think we’ll try to make another big step for the higher single-seaters, either Formula 3 or Formula Regional.”
A fulfilling learning process
Kucharczyk, who is one of eight full-time rookies in this year’s championship, hit the ground running, scoring podiums in all three races in the first round of the season at Portimão. Those successful results belied the challenge of stepping up to single-seaters and all the new information that Kucharczyk had to take in.
“A lot of things were new for me, especially on the race weekend, I think I adapted to it quite quickly, so it’s not a big problem. Of course, the starts were bit different where you get a bit more pressure than usual, especially on the first lap. The way the team works, like the amount of data, the onboards and so on, it’s actually quite huge. I didn’t really expect it that much, but yeah, I enjoyed it. I like learning.”
Kucharczyk has made the most of his drive this year and has been a consistent front-runner, with seven podiums and one win to his name. These results, however, pale in comparison to those of championship leader Tsolov, who leads the championship by 118 points and has won all but three races this year. When asked about how he planned to turn that around in the second half of the season, which begins this weekend at Motorland Aragon, Kucharczyk was hopeful yet realistic.
“Nikola is very fast this year. He looks quite unstoppable for the moment. Of course, we’ve done some work with my coach – off-track training, for example. I’m really looking forward for the second part of the season. I will see how it gets in Motorland. I hope that finally we could get close to the Campos guys because at the end of the first half of the season, we’ve seen that Campos are really strong.”
Some fans raised eyebrows when the Spanish F4 entry list was first revealed: Both MP and Campos have run eight cars this season and have locked out the entire top 10 of the championship as a result. Kucharczyk said that having seven teammates provided an advantage ahead of the weekend but made things difficult in race conditions.
“I think it’s quite good for the team to have a lot of drivers and also for the drivers because with eight drivers, we can have good data, good cooperation, and we can find a good solution for set-up. In the races, it’s a bit different story because everyone wants to fight for their position, so sometimes it might get difficult. But for now, I think I have a good relationship with my teammates and with the team. So there is no problem at all. I think we just need to focus on our job and take the opportunity that we have eight cars to improve ourselves.”
Finding inspiration in Robert Kubica
When asked about his heroes in motorsport, Kucharczyk fondly recalled watching motorsport as a child and seeing his countryman Kubica on television.
“When he used to race in F1 when I was a small kid, I used to always watch him. Although the accident in rally kind of stopped his career, watching him [go] back to rally was really cool. I think he’s everyone’s hero in Poland. To see his road going back from the F1 to crash and getting back to the F1, it’s amazing. I think it’s the amount [of] the pressure and the physical achievement. It’s quite unbelievable.
I think he’s everyone’s hero in Poland. To see his road going back from the F1 to crash and getting back to the F1, it’s amazing.Tymoteusz Kucharczyk on Robert Kubica
“Also one of my idols, I always look for [videos of] Ayrton Senna, for his driving skills, it was amazing. I always look for his onboards at Monaco. It’s just beautiful.”
Given whom he grew up idolising, Kurcharczyk’s main career goal, unsurprisingly, is to be in Formula 1, though he remains realistic about his prospects.
“Since I was a child, I was trying to get in [to F1]. Now [that] my perspective opened and widened a bit, now I feel like it is not just about going super fast, but you need to get lucky, you need to get sponsorship. But it’s still my dream. Getting to F1 is my goal in life. I know that in the time we live right now, it’s much harder without money, so you need to put much more hard work in it to get there.
“But I think right now there’s a lot of competitive series [outside of] F1. For example, endurance racing is very strong right now, a lot of young drivers go there and show good level. I think there’s a lot of different available options.”
Kucharczyk will return to action this weekend at Motorland Aragon for Round 5 of the 2022 Spanish F4 Championship, where he will be hoping to break Tsolov’s eight-win streak.
Header photo credit: photosbyjen.nz