Home Formula 4British F4 British F4 2024 season preview: Two F1 tracks attracts overseas talent

British F4 2024 season preview: Two F1 tracks attracts overseas talent

by Ida Wood

Photo: British F4

British F4 races overseas for the first time this year, and has attracted plenty of overseas talent for the third season using the Tatuus T-421 chassis that has made it more comparable to rival European series

When it was launched in 2015, the British Formula 4 championship quickly built a reputation as the place to look on the British single-seater scene for the racing stars of the future. The inaugural season produced two IndyCar drivers, one Formula 1 graduate and a driver who went on to race in Formula E and Super Formula, with the 2016 campaign featuring a future IndyCar driver and the 2017 season boasting two drivers who would go on to race in F1 and one who is now in IndyCar.

But at the time British F4 used a different car to the F4 series of Europe, and of course it visited tracks that no other did. Only with the adoption of the Tatuus T-421 car in 2022 did it start to have something in common with its continental counterparts, and the number of international drivers attracted to British F4 has been on the rise since.

There were 15 full-time drivers in 2015, a number not reached again until last year’s 16-strong contingent of full-timers, and 10 of those were Britons. There were more home-grown talents racing full-time in the next two seasons, a match of six and six in 2018, then there were only four Britons who did the full 2019 season while seven overseas talents did.

Those numbers flipped in 2020, unsurprisingly given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, then 2021 looked identical to ’18 in terms of representation and full-time entries. Replacing the Mygale M14-F4 at the end of that year has proved to be an inspired move, as there was a six-year high of 13 full-time drivers in 2022 (with six Britons and seven from abroad), then 16 last year with nine of those drivers coming from overeas and choosing British F4 over championships closer to home.

It is looking even more exciting for 2024, with 20 drivers signed up for full seasons (although based on the past a few of them might not see out the year) and 12 of those talents are coming from abroad.

There’s also one driver who has already confirmed they will be part-time only but could still have an impact on the title race: W Series podium-finisher Abbi Pulling who will be driving for Rodin Motorsport.

Photo: F1 Academy

Who are the less experienced names that will be seen more regularly on the grid this year?

Hitech GP has been the team to beat more often than not in pre-season testing, and it has Deagen Fairclough who is the highest-placed returnee from 2023.

He earned his place on last year’s grid by winning the ROKiT Racing Star contest. It started off with an Esports series, then a further simulator and Esports-based shootout at University of Bolton’s National Centre for Motorsport. Unlike other single-seater aspirants, Fairclough was not a junior of an F1 team but rather of British Touring Car team Ciceley Motorsport.

Fairclough joined JHR Developments for his prize drive, and made great use of it with three wins, five other podiums and six fastest laps put him third in the British F4 standings. He got his move to Hitech for 2024 sealed a month after the season ended, and has been busy testing – and often topping the times – since.

His team-mates also have the potential to be consistently at the front this year. Mika Abrahams moves over from Fortec Motorsports and his 18th place in the standings is not reflective of the pace he has frequently shown. He missed the first 30% of the season as he was yet to turn 15, but by the end of it was taking pole positions and standing on the podium. In 2022 he also took two wins and seven other podiums in Danish F4.

Reza Seewooruthun made his single-seater debut in F4 United Arab Emirates at the start of this year with Hitech and took one podium, but he already knows the British circuits well as he won four races en route to third in the Ginetta Junior standings last year.

Rodin (fomerly known as Carlin) has the next highest-placed British F4 returnees. James Higgins qualified on pole four times last year but could only convert two of those into wins, and his four other podiums left him sixth in the points table. He joins Rodin from Fortec, while Jack Sherwood moves there from Chris Dittmann Racing after coming 15th in 2023.

Photo: F4 Spain

The team’s full-time line-up is completed by Alex Ninovic. The Australian karting champion joined Rodin last year in Spanish F4, where he made the podium once.

Outdoing both teams at present on the full-time car count is JHR, which has former F1 Academy racer Chloe Chong and three sportscar converts filling its garage. Leo Robinson actually did half-and-half last year, as he started off in Ginetta Junior and took a win and a pole before switching to Danish F4 and getting 10 podiums from 10 starts.

Ella Lloyd came 21st in Ginetta Junior in 2022 and second in the Ginetta GT Championship’s GT5 Pro standings in 2023, then prepared for British F4 by joining Rodin for two rounds of the F4-spec Formula Winter Series last month.

Joel Bergstrom meanwhile competed part-time in Porsche Sprint Challenge Scandinavia last year. The 16-year-old was 13th overall and fourth in the GT4 class. Prior to that he was Swedish junior karting champion and a top talent on OK karts too.

Fortec’s 2024 line-up is a mix of experience, and features US F4 race-winner Alex Berg, racing returnee Nina Pothof and GB4 race-winner Kai Daryanani. Although he won in his GB4 cameo and claimed a F4 South East Asia podium in 2023, 19-year-old Daryanani came 24th in British F4 and 36th in F4 UAE in full seasons, and was a non-scorer in Euro 4 and Spanish F4.

Virtuosi Racing also has a racing returnee in Maxwell Dodds, who is team-mate to Chinese F4 racer Yuhao Fu and Martin Molnar. Last year Molnar won the South Garda Winter Cup and was WSK Champions Cup runner-up on OK karts, and was a finalist in the Richard Mille Young Talent Academy shootout.

There will be a lot of attention on Argenti Motorsport this season, since it is running long-time Mercedes-AMG F1 junior and single-seater rookie Yuanpu Cui. During his time on OK karts he came eighth in the WSK Euro Series and WSK Final Cup, 11th in the WSK Open Cup and 16th in the Champions of the Future series. Although the step up to F4 UAE at the start of this year only resulted in two points, he has been fastest in several of British F4’s pre-season tests.

Photo: British F4

His team-mate Rowan Campbell-Pilling is a graduate of the British karting scene, as is CDR’s sole signing Bart Harrison. He was national championship runner-up in X30 Junior and X30 Senior karts.

It’s not just international drivers who have flocked to British F4 this year, as the championship has also attracted Emirati team Xcel Motorsport and its local drivers Zack Scoular and August Raber (whose full-time participation is yet to be confirmed). Last year Raber came 20th in the Rotax Max Euro Trophy for Rotax Junior karts. Although Xcel has won 41 races in F4 UAE, it has failed to get one of its drivers on the podium’s top step since the series introduced the Tatuus T-421 three seasons ago.

British F4 will race in three countries this season, with eight rounds in England, one in Scotland a first ever overseas trip to Zandvoort in the Netherlands. The rounds at Croft and Oulton Park have been dropped for the trip to Zandvoort and also a second visit to Silverstone so drivers can race on the circuit’s full Grand Prix layout in addition to the National configuration normally used by the series.

That means the 10-round schedule actually only features seven tracks, but for the first time ever two of those will be on FIA Grade 1 circuits that host F1. Last year’s trip to Silverstone was the first time the series had ever raced on its F1-spec layout.

2024 British F4 entries

Team Driver Country 2023 (’24)
Hitech GP Reza Seewooruthun Britain 3rd in Ginetta Junior (16th in F4 UAE)
Mika Abrahams South Africa 18th in British F4
Deagen Fairclough Britain 3rd in British F4 (7th in F4 UAE)
JHR Developments Chloe Chong Canada/China/GB 14th in F1 Academy
Joel Bergstrom Sweden 13th in Porsche Sprint Challenge Scandinavia
Leo Robinson Algeria 4th in Danish F4, 14th in Ginetta Junior
Ella Lloyd Britain 2nd in Ginetta GT Championship – GT5 Pro class (41st in FWinter Series)
Fortec Motorsports Nina Pothof Netherlands No racing
Kai Daryanani India 10th in F4 SEA, 18th in GB4 (25th in F4 UAE)
Alex Berg Canada 7th in US F4
Chris Dittmann Racing Bart Harrison Britain Senior karting (42nd in FWinter Series)
Virtuosi Racing Maxwell Dodds Britain No racing
Martin Molnar Hungary Senior karting
Yuhao Fu China 23rd in F4 SEA (currently 23rd in Chinese F4)
Argenti Motorsport Rowan Campbell-Pilling Britain Junior karting
Yuanpu Cui China Senior karting (24th in F4 UAE)
Rodin Motorsport Abbi Pulling Britain 5th in F1 Academy (currently 1st in F1 Academy)
Alex Ninovic Australia 10th in Spanish F4
James Higgins Britain 6th in British F4
Jack Sherwood Britain 15th in British F4
Xcel Motorsport Zack Scoular UAE Senior karting (17th in F4 UAE)
August Raber UAE Junior karting (Senior karting)