Luka Sammalisto will drive for R-ace GP in the Italian and United Arab Emirates Formula 4 championships next year after winning a seat with the team in a shootout.
The 15-year-old Finn was one of six karters selected to participate in the five-day shootout camp, which took place at a French circuit and included simulator running as well as tests in F4 cars.
Sammalisto raced in junior karting from 2019 to 2021, then stepped up the senior OK class last year. On OK Junior karts he came ninth in the 2019 Estonian championship, and in 2021 was seventh in the WSK Open Cup and 13th in the CIK-FIA European championship.
Last year he was 20th in the Champions of the Future series (and eighth in its Winter Series), 21st in CIK-FIA World championship and 22nd in the European championship for OK karts. He began 2023 by debuting on KZ2 shifter karts and coming 15th in the South Garda Winter Cup, but returned to OK karts and was 26th in the European championship.
“Being invited to a prestigious shootout camp was an incredible chance for me. It validated my talent as a skilled driver. The tests were intense, and I recognised this as my moment to shine,” said Sammalisto, who had initially planned to race KZ2 karts in 2024.
“I gave it everything I had, and my performance convinced the team. Taking the wheel of a F4 car elevated my skills to new heights, and I’m beyond excited to compete in an F4 car next season. This accomplishment is the culmination of years of unwavering dedication to my ambitions. It’s a true honour to be welcomed into the esteemed R-ace GP team.”
Two-time Formula 1 world champion Mika Hakkinen (pictured above with Sammalisto) said: “I’ve been following Luka’s karting career closely and I’ve seen him grow. His dedication and determination have laid the foundation for future success.”