Home Formula 4F4 South East Asia F4 South East Asia revived with new car, short season and Macau races

F4 South East Asia revived with new car, short season and Macau races

by Ida Wood

Photo: Blackjack Racing

The Formula 4 South East Asia championship will relaunch later this year after not holding a race since 2019.

Its inaugural season ran from August 2016 to January 2017, and incorporated 36 races over six rounds at four tracks in Malaysia, The Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand. Renault-powered Mygale F4 cars were used, and the grid was centrally run by the Meritus GP team.

The format was retained for the second season, which ran from 2017 to ’18, while season three took place in the second half of 2018. A remarkable 40 races made up the 2019 season, which was the last before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Once that disruption arrived, a plan was formed to run the series exclusively at Sepang over the final four months of 2020. But border restrictions put pay to that, and the series sought to create a 2020-21 season instead. That was announced in August 2020, but no updates followed until February the next year when F4 SEA confirmed it would hold a 2021 season instead.

But that also failed to come to fruition, with March’s scheduled calendar reveal never happening and the return of a full national lockdown in Malaysia from May to June killing off the chance of F4 SEA racing before the second half of the year.

Following the lockdown announcement, the series told Formula Scout it wanted to get back on track in the third quarter of 2021, with an official test most likely preceding a season that could potentially run into 2022.

But in September 2021 the plans changed again. “We will continue to use the first-generation car until 2024 as specified by FIA,” the series told Formula Scout, as it confirmed its season was now cancelled. “Racing starts in quarter one of 2022.”

F4 SEA ended the year by stating it would announce new racing plans in January, and confirmed to Formula Scout that it would also spend 2022 testing Gen2 chassis before then making a decision on which to likely adopt for 2023.

But then it went quiet, until earlier this month rumour spread that F4 SEA was to be relaunched. That announcement came on Monday, and was made by Asia Racing Team.

The squad, which previously raced in Chinese F4, has partnered with current Chinese F4 team Blackjack Racing to organise a three-round 2023 season with the help of Asian motorsport promoter Top Speed.

Tatuus’s second-generation F4 car and Abarth-branded Autotecnica engines will be used, aligning it with six European series, Brazilian F4 and F4 United Arab Emirates.

Zhuhai will hold the season opener on October 27-29, with a pre-event test followed by a half-hour practice session, two 15-minute qualifying sessions and three 25-minute races.

A non-championship round with an altered format will run on weekend one of the 70th anniversary edition of the Macau Grand Prix on November 11-12, with the FIA Formula 3 World Cup – whose victor is the official winner of the Macau GP – taking place there a week later. F4 SEA’s comeback season concludes with trips to Sepang on November 24-26 and December 1-3.

It is not clear if other teams will join ART and BlackJack on the grid.