Home Formula 4ACCR F4 Kart champion Egozi targets regular F4 rookie podiums after late call-up

Kart champion Egozi targets regular F4 rookie podiums after late call-up

by Roger Gascoigne

Photo: Petr Fryba

James Egozi was expecting to spend 2023 in karting. Instead, a call from PHM Racing propelled him into Italian Formula 4.

After the unplanned call-up, the 15-year-old American – whose career is overseen by the Minardi family – has been gaining in confidence in single-seaters.

“Originally, I was planning on doing the whole season of karting and then at the beginning of March I was called by PHM to do a couple of tests with them. They wanted to see how quick I could be and to see if I was capable of performing at Imola,” he remembers.

An “amazing” debut there left no doubts, scoring in his first two races, no mean feat against experienced rivals.

But before “taking the bull by the horns” and committing to cars the factory Tony Kart driver had unfinished business in karting, and a week later won the WSK Super Master Series title for OK karts.

“I want to be a Formula 1 driver and F4 is the path to F1,” said Egozi. “Karting is great, but at some point you have to make the next step and doing another year in karting wouldn’t have been the next step.”

“[Becoming champion was] really satisfying because you have to work hard for the WSK titles. That was my second one in just four years in Europe. Knowing it was gonna be my last race [made it] somewhat emotional. It was a proud feeling to be able to wrap up that series with the title.”

Egozi finished 15th in the 2022 CIK-FIA World Karting championship, and after that got invited to the Italian automobile federation’s Ferrari Driver Academy scouting camp and to an F4 test with PHM.

He did four pre-season tests before his Italian F4 debut, and has 28 points from five rounds to sit 14th in the standings and seventh in the rookie standings.

“The entire team and especially my parents are very happy with the progress I’ve been making because everybody understands the amount of experience I have,” said Egozi.

“I’m improving my craft, you can see it in the results. My first ever race was a P8 but with two-thirds of the field [as a heat format was used] so you can call it a P12. In Misano my best result was 11th, Spa P9 and Monza P8, so progress is there.”

The upward momentum continued with fifth then a seventh at Paul Ricard.

“By the end of this year I’d like to be a consistent rookie podium finisher and consistently fighting for the top five or top seven overall. If I can get points in all three races then that’s a good weekend.”

Egozi also cameoed in F4 Central European Zone at the Red Bull Ring in May and won both races

“It was an amazing experience being able to stand on the top step. I enjoyed myself and gained valuable experience on a track that I’m going to [return] to at some point in my career.”

He teased that if he can “end the season really strong, I would be looking beyond F4” for 2024.