18-year-old Canadian, Kevin Foster, through to the final of the FEED Racing series, racing for a fully-funded season in French F4 in 2023

Jacques Villeneuve’s protégé Kevin Foster: ‘I never thought of F1 as my dream’

“This guy is the only one who understands how to really master the tyres” is what we could hear around the Club Circuit of Magny-Cours for the F4 FEED Racing’s Semi-Finals. This guy is Kevin Foster, a young man totally unknown in France and Europe, as he has only raced go-karts in his native Canada. F1 Feeder Series had a chat with him prior to the finale.

By Perceval Wolff

On September 14th, the Finale of the 3rd edition of FEED Racing will take place at Magny-Cours in France. The school, co-founded by F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve, grants a fully funded F4 season to the winner of the competition. 18-year-old Canadian Kevin Foster quickly became the favorite of the competition after being the fastest driver of the semi-finals in August, two-tenths of a second in front of Belgian sim-racer Julien Soenen and French kart driver Théau Keryjaouen.

From Canada to France

Three months ago, Kevin Foster was far from guessing he would be in contention to get a fully funded F4 seat with the support of Jacques Villeneuve. Everything changed in June 2022 when he joined Racelab by Kartplex, Villeneuve’s karting team.

“It was a last-minute decision. I participated in one of the club races in Kartplex, one of the most important karting facilities in Western Canada, quite close to my place. And I ended up winning the race. Racelab then asked me to send them my schedule and what I wanted to do in karting” explains Foster.

It allowed me to believe that I could make a career out of this

Kevin Foster on becoming a national karting champion

Everything went very quickly for the young guy from Alberta who enjoyed a dream summer, first by winning the Rotax Max Senior Canada Finals in karting, a title that boosted his self-confidence. “I needed to prove to myself that I had what it takes. It allowed me to believe that I could make a career out of this, that I could potentially get to the next step, and that as long as the results kept coming, it would be something that I could do.”

Second, Kevin Foster kept on winning with a victory in a karting shootout race at Area 27, the racetrack designed by Jacques Villeneuve. The price for the winner was a free participation to FEED Racing, an F4 racing school on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean in France. The Canadian driver, who also has South Korean origins, then traveled alone to a new country, with nearly everybody speaking another language.

Kevin Foster and 1997 Formula 1 World Drivers' Champion, Jacques Villeneuve in front of their Racelab by Kartplex kart.
Kevin Foster and 1997 Formula 1 World Drivers’ Champion, Jacques Villeneuve | Credit: Racelab by Kartplex

Even if all the advice from the coaches and teachers are both in French and in English, most of the conversations between other drivers, and between families are in French.

“Luckily enough in Canada, we always learn French at school so even though I’m not at all fluent, I can understand, it was not like I had no clue. And I have been traveling by myself since I was 15 or 16, so that was not really an obstacle for me to be alone. Anyway, racing is a universal language. I think if you don’t understand French, you can still guess what people are saying”.

FEED Racing new favourite 

Fastest in the quarter-finals, fastest in the semi-finals, Kevin Foster has impressed by his understanding of the car and of the tyres. “The hardest bit was to figure out what the tyres wanted. I tried several things and when finally something worked, I continued in this way, and perfected it.”

All the first stages of the competition were on the Club Circuit, a track much shorter than the F1 Circuit that will host the Finale. The five other finalists think that this track change will reset everything to zero, but that’s not Foster’s opinion.

I have the experience of showing up on a new track

Kevin Foster on track record for adaptability

“I think if there is any change, it’s better for me and it’s in my favour. I have the experience of showing up on a new track. It will be interesting to see where everyone ends up because we will all continue to progress, but I’m confident.” To prepare for this new track, the Canadian kart driver explained he would “just look up some onboards online,” instead of driving on the simulator with a different car and different tyres “that could give him bad habits.”

“My only opportunity”

For less than €14,000 drivers can join FEED Racing and win a fully-funded F4 season. Kevin Foster knows how important this finale for his career is: “I wouldn’t even be able to go to FEED Racing on my own money, I got the right to come thanks to this karting race at Area 27. It’s fair to say that FEED Racing is my only opportunity.”

At the beginning of the year, the young Canadian was hoping to join Formula Regional Americas or GB3 for the next season if he could gather enough funds. The FEED Racing opportunity has now changed his plans. “I don’t have any preference for any F4 championship for the moment, I’m fully focused on FEED, I will just be happy as long as I’m in a single-seaters next year.”

The last winner, Dutchman Robert de Haan, is currently racing in Spanish F4 with Monlau Motorsport. F1 Feeder Series understands this year’s FEED Racing winner will join French F4 in 2023. 

A future in Japan?

Kevin Foster also has high targets for his future, even if he knows Formula One will be almost impossible to reach given his financial background. “I never thought of F1 as my dream. It’s always been a world away to me. Single-seaters have always been the most attractive to me. I think realistically, Super Formula in Japan is already a big enough goal for me. Getting there would be difficult for sure, but possible” he explains.

“Super Formula is a spec-championship, everybody has the same Dallara chassis, with only two engine manufacturers, it’s something that appeals to me, and speaks towards everybody. It’s a fair championship, whereas in F1 or in IndyCar, you can bring super big budgets, and develop a testing program, etc.”

F2 and F3 are nearly impossible to join without solid and wealthy sponsors

Kevin Foster on limited opportunity due to lack of funding

The FEED Racing finalist already has a plan in his mind to join the Japanese top single-seater series. “The first few steps of the European ladder would be good. F4, then potentially FRECA… but after that F3 and F2 are nearly impossible to join without solid and wealthy sponsors. So I’d want to move to Super Formula Lights after FRECA.”

“Money helps a lot in motorsport, we all know that. But the world of motorsport is changing, there are more and more opportunities such as FEED Racing for drivers who need the money, but at the end of the day, [motorsport is] still a money race.”

Canadian influences and Weltmeister Seb

Like the majority of racing drivers, it’s thanks to his dad that Kevin Foster fell in love with motorsport. “He is the main reason why I got here in the first place. He was his own mechanic, he loved engines, bikes. He had me on a small little dirt bike when I was 3. It was something that we would do for fun and more than everything for family-bonding. Even my little sister would start doing motocross!”

“Then around 2010-2011 a friend of mine introduced me to F1, to Sebastian Vettel and what he was doing at Red Bull and I found it really cool. Vettel really got me into F1, watching every single race, all the YouTube F1 channel content. He was basically a hero for the young me, he has always been an inspiring character. He should have won more titles with Ferrari in my opinion.”

“After years and years of me watching F1 every day, my dad found time to take me to karting in 2017. That was the start of it, even though I had to stop for nearly two years [from 2019 to 2020] because we couldn’t afford to continue karting at this level. I managed to come back in the Senior category later.”

Kevin Foster (KartPlex / JV Kart) winning at Rotax Senior in Saskatoon, July 2022 | Credit: FEED Racing

Canada has a rich history with F1 thanks to the Villeneuve family and now has two drivers at the pinnacle of motorsport with Stroll and Latifi. “When I started to watch F1, Jacques Villeneuve was not there anymore. I learnt about him quite quickly and I knew Area 27 was a racetrack designed by him, not far from my place, but… I would have never thought he would play such a big role in my career.”

“At the moment it’s hard to root for Canadian drivers, I’m not going to lie, Stroll and Latifi are just coming from Eastern Canadian wealthy families, there is no real connection with them.”

Rallying and Formula Ford

FEED Racing is not Kevin Foster’s first single-seaters experience in his career as he already tested some Formula Ford several years ago. Did it help him? “It was a bit too far back. More than anything, what I think helped me, was the fact that my dad owns a small ranch just about one hour from where we live in the city. I was able to train there during the winter with a little rally car.”

“I’d say it has been more useful than Formula Ford to prepare me for F4. You get so much more feeling, with the weight transfers. And after that, you are not scared when you go into a single-seaters.”

Kevin Foster was also one of the six finalists of the Team Canada Scholarship Shootout. Winners will represent Canada at the Formula Ford Festival and the Walter Hayes Trophy at the end of the year. “Any extra seat time I can get in a car is always good. It will help me to develop my skills and improve. It’s a bonus for me.”

FEED Racing Finale will take place at Magny-Cours on September 14th. The six finalists are Kevin Foster, Julien Soenen from Belgium; Théau Keryjaouen, Oscar Py, Pierre-Andréa Verreaux and Antoine Broggio from France.

Header photo credit: FEED Racing

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