It has stuck with first-generation cars and its unique Formula 5 class, and is only increasing in popularity. But how does Danish Formula 4 see itself and what is it planning to do next?
Alex Stubberup Frederichsen is a cheery, and busy man. The former Formula Ford racer, mechanic and Iraq veteran has a day job, runs top Danish Formula 4 squad Team FSP and has also been the series’ promoter since the start of 2021.
At the most recent round at Jyllandsringen, Formula Scout spoke to him about the series and its ambitions. Starting with how long it will hold on to its Mygale M14-F4 cars while other European series move on to second-generation car designs.
As it turns out, there’s no end date set, and the FIA can’t set one either as “the FIA can’t decide on what I’m doing at all, because we are not an FIA F4 series”.
That means no superlicence points for its drivers, and none for those who go on to race in other series in the next two years if they have raced in Danish F4 aged 14.
“[The FIA] can do whatever they want and I can do whatever I want,” Frederichsen says. “I don’t want to throw away that [customer base by naming an end date] so we had to do something else, so we decided to put out a press release saying we will keep these cars for a long time, and even though if we get new cars we’ll still keep this as a B class.”
Whenever Danish F4 does switch to F4 Gen2, its FFord-based F5 class will be lost but it keeps a grid now with the same logic that not specifying an expiry date means car owners still see the logic in coming out to race every year.
Aside from keeping its current car for the time being, other plans for the future include staying on the bill of Padborg Park’s Night Race event (although getting an after-dark timetable slot is unlikely unless competitor and finance interest is there for it), looking for new series partners to go alongside tyre supplier Pirelli and a Sweden partnership.
F5 has representatives for its interests, with Frederichsen’s focus being making F4 as strong as possible in Denmark, and since taking on the job he has had to contend with F5 team boss and driver Mads Hoe beating the F4 cars in straight fights.
“Well, actually nothing happens. People didn’t really care,” Frederichsen said of the impact of that on F4 customer interest.
“And to be honest the balance of performance might be a bit biased towards the F5 cars. But then again Mads was 23 years old and everyone else was 14, 15, so there’s lots going into that. The really difficult BoP these cars are up against is that the F5 cars are 135kg lighter than this, and on a day that’s at hot as this, they just overheat the distance of the race. It’s just so much easier keeping his tyres under control than our F4 tyres. So it’s really difficult for us to keep up.”
The round Formula Scout visited at the Jyllandsringen actually featured Danish F4’s largest ever F4 grid of 11 cars, and Frederichsen thinks as long as the total grid size doesn’t dip below 10 then it’s a sustainable series to run.
“We don’t want a lot less than 10, then it’s not fun anymore. Because it’s difficult to get track time, and everything just becomes a whole lot difficult. But seeing where we are now, and the amount of cars that are in Denmark, people are interested because there’s a lot of people speaking about the series, and they see that we have more. Actually this is the largest grid we’ve ever been in Danish F4. There’s 11 F4 cars here, that’s the biggest ever. But we’re only 14 cars in total, because the F5 grid has declined over the years.”
His own squad, Frederichsen Sport & Promotion (Team FSP) contributes to two of those 11 F4 cars and has routinely been the outfit running the most drivers in the championship. But unlike the big F4 teams in Europe, many of the cars being raced aren’t actually owned by the teams.
“There’s a bit of everything. Sebastian Gravlund’s car is owned by his dad, Theodor Jensen’s car is owned by his dad. These [two FSP] cars are mine, and the STEP Motorsport team, he owns one, Victor Nielsen’s dad owns Victor’s car, and the grey one that’s a rental car for this weekend [being driven by Aurelia Nobels], that’s actually Noah Stromsted’s 2021 car.”
All-time Danish F4 statistics
|L Sonderskov 86||Hansen 13||Hansen 9||Mads Hoe 35||Mads Hoe 41|
|Mads Hoe 85||Jakobsen 11||Jakobsen 6||Nielsen 22||Daugaard 23|
|J L Nielsen 69||Mads Hoe 10||Lundgaard 4||Hansen 21||Hansen 12|
|V Eriksen 54||N Stromsted 9||Mads Hoe 4||Jakobsen 21||M Harritz 9|
|L Daugaard 54||F Vesti 8||Vesti 3||Pilgaard 20||Bramming 8|
|Mille Hoe 54||D Lundgaard 7||J Noda 3||Eriksen 17||Bjerring 5|
|A N Bramming 45||Pilgaard 5||Pilgaard 2||Lundgaard 15||Mille Hoe 4|
|M Jakobsen 45||Nielsen 4||Eriksen 2||Vesti 14||C Christensen 2|
|C Pilgaard 44||Eriksen 3||Stromsted 2||Grundtvig 13||Nielsen 1|
|C T Hansen 43||Grundtvig 3||J Dinesen 2||C Rasmussen 11|
Stromsted was the star of the 2021 season, with the 14-year-old Dane winning nine of his 11 races last year. He’s only got two more days until he turns 15 (on July 29) and will be free to compete in Spanish F4 and the other European series.
While he is one of several home-grown talents to race in the series, along with the likes of IndyCar rookie Christian Lundgaard, Formula 2 racer Frederik Vesti and Indy Pro 2000 champion Christian Rasmussen, the series has also attracted 13 overseas racers since its 2017 creation including drivers from as far away as Mexico, South Africa and Singapore.
Nobels is the second of two Brazilians to race in Danish F4, as Emerson Fittipaldi’s son Emmo chose to race in Denmark last year rather than Mexico’s NACAM F4 series. He struck up a strong relationship with Stromsted, and an even stronger rivalry with fellow second-generation talent Juju Noda, and won two races en route to third in the standings.
His Formula 1 and IndyCar title-winning father spoke to Formula Scout about their time in the country.
“Emmo learned a lot in Denmark, to drive in the wet. Denmark was like club racing in England,” Fittipaldi said.
“Good people, I love Denmark. Very polite people, very down to earth, the way they treat us there. Arriving in the track, I remembered England when I started and it’s like a one-man show. The guy with the car on the trailer, comes out of the car, takes the racing car off the trailer, gets up the pressure on the tyres, helmet and drive.
“That’s the root of racing. In Denmark. And on a high level too. Very impressive, the Scandinavian drivers. A lot of good Scandinavian drivers. They love racing.”
Team FSP has recently bought three first-generation Mygales from British F4 team Argenti Motorsport now it is using Tatuus Gen2 cars, and will put Renault engines in them ready to run in Danish F4. A season of six rounds and six test days with the team could cost “around €70,000 + VAT”, considerably cheaper than other European series even before they switched to new cars for this year.
“We have two kinds of customers coming to Denmark,” Frederichsen explains. “Foreign drivers. One is coming because of age. So Mika Abrahams is that for this year. And Alyx Coby and Nobels, they are here because of budget reasons. Because it’s cheap to go racing. Not cheap, but a lot cheaper than German, Italian, British or Spanish series.”
The F1 juniors may all head to the above named series, but Frederichsen isn’t concerned about the quality of his crop.
“I’m not looking for the super drivers, I’m looking for having a championship that makes sense in a way that the point is it can’t be expensive. Here [at Jyllandsringen], the testing is limited. You can do three or four days, for formula cars, so you can’t have an exploding budget because there’s no more test days. Ring Djursland you can’t test at all, Sturup we can test everything we want. On Padborg it’s one per week, but you’re getting tired of testing at Padborg. So that way we can sort of have a championship where you can’t spend 100,000 on testing, because it makes no sense.”
Danish F4 has boomed in international popularity for fans, partly due to Fittipaldi, Hoe and Noda, and Frederichsen isn’t surprised it’s translated into more international drivers coming in the past 1.5 years “because that was when I took over and started doing all the stuff”, he laughs.
Holding dual positions puts him in a unique position, and “I’ve just said that everybody who wants anything or [needs] help that they can get whatever from our drivers, because I’m the promoter and I don’t want to hide anything” when it comes to rivals looking for assistance. He also personally encouraged several of his rivals to enter the series, including the return of former FFord squad Team Formula Sport.
There’s enthusiasm from Sweden for Danish F4 to bring its cars onto its shores more, particularly from the small and twisty Sturup Raceway which finally held its first series round this year after twice failing to during the COVID-19 pandemic. That would potentially raise Danish F4’s envious budgets, but there’s a wider plan in consideration.
“We’re trying to set something up with the Swedes, but we don’t know yet what. They have the FNordic, now they know they have to bridge themselves from now until 2025, ‘26, when they want to do Gen2 F4s. They don’t want to switch to Gen1 now until then, so they have to gap that with their Formula Renault 1.6 car. So they’re keen to do something with us, so we might do two rounds in Sweden next year. [We’ll be racing] with them. Same grid.”
So in effect, FR1.6 could replace F5 as the secondary class of cars in the coming years, which could effectively save FNordic after its grid size more than halved to just five cars through the first two rounds.
“Yeah. That would be not a no-brainer, but close to. So that might happen. We do two in Sweden and they do two here, and then we do another three rounds in Denmark.”
There’s also a F4 series in Finland, Formula Academy Finland, which Frederichsen sees as a similar model to Danish F4’s but with F4 being the secondary class rather than the top one as the FAcademy series exists within the FOpen Finland championship that is also open to Formula 3 cars and other single-seaters.
“The problem is Finland is too far away for us to be interested [in racing there],” Frederichsen says, explaining how a combination of what are essentially club racing drivers and professional teams who are run by and employ people who have full-time work commitments away from the F4 paddock means the time it would take to travel to and from a round in Finland would require taking time off work on a Friday and a Monday, which is not possible.
“Sweden is doable. You need Friday off, and you can come back late Sunday and you can still go to work on Monday. So that can work.
“It’s not easy to do the championship when you think that, so that’s why we’re trying to do where we can do [and not beyond]. The plan, and there is nothing set it stone, could be four rounds in Denmark, four rounds in Sweden. That’s a Scandinavian championship.
“Four rounds in Denmark plus two in Sweden is the Danish, and the four in Sweden plus two of those in Denmark is the Swedish championship, and then Scandinavian is all eight. Because then you can have the club racers come, and you can have sort of the more professionals who do all eight rounds. That might be something for the next two, three years.”
Mygale founder Bertrand Decoster reportedly sees Danish F4 “as a brilliant way of having a small, national F4 championship”, but clearly with ever more interest from abroad it could really end up as the template for something much larger.
And keep your eyes peeled on Formula Scout for a look into two more of Danish F4’s teams, including how our weekend immersed in and helping out one of them went.
Additional reporting by Roger Gascoigne