Home Formula 4Chinese F4 The youngest ever winners in FIA Formula 4

The youngest ever winners in FIA Formula 4

by Ida Wood

Photo: Conny Ruiz

Last weekend’s Danish F4 round at Jyllandsringen featured two new winners, both only 14 years old. Who else has won a race in an official FIA F4 championship ‘underage’, and where have they got to since? 

The Danish and NACAM Formula 4 championships are two rare examples of national single-seater championships that enable drivers to race under the age of 15 set by the FIA and most national sporting authorities.

In the United States there are series that cater for drivers even younger than 13, although only in wingless cars with grooved tyres, and these championships are at a racing school level where the standard is not usually indicative of whether a driver has the talent that would merit a future career in motorsport.

F4 series do, on the most part, and so Formula Scout has gone searching for the youngest ever winners in FIA-certified single-seater racing. This doesn’t include series that use F4 cars but are without FIA support, such as F4 Western and Formula Academy Finland, and also rules out non-championship races run since the category’s formation.

Charles Leong MACAU 14 years, 11 months & 30 days
2016 Chinese F4, Shanghai race two

The reigning Macau Grand Prix winner has spent most of his career in Chinese F4, with his biggest triumph of course coming when the championship hosted the grand prix last year. The Macanese talent made his single-seater racing debut in Formula Masters China (based on F4 predecessor Formula Abarth) in June of 2016, then a fortnight later turned up in the Chinese F4 championship at Goldenport Park and took pole.

He could only convert that into a fourth place, but given his age and inexperience was nothing to be ashamed of, and after notching up two podiums at Sepang in FMasters China he then made his second F4 appearance at Formula 1 grand prix venue Shanghai. This time he had the race pace, and followed third place in race one with victory and fastest lap in race two.

The next year Leong decimated the opposition in Chinese F4, and claimed the Asian Formula Renault title too, then stepped up to Asian Formula 3 with Hitech GP and came fourth in the standings as well as winning on both of his AFR appearances.

He added an FIA European F3 round at Silverstone to his busy year to enable him to race in his home grand prix. After that the budget dried up, but Leong has done the necessary races to qualify him to compete in the Macau GP each year since.

Scout Report: Charles Leong

Conrad Laursen DENMARK 14 years, 11 months & 3 days
2020 Danish F4, Jyllandsringen race three

The second-generation talent could potentially have won at a younger age had the start of the 2020 Danish F4 season not been delayed by the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, although the eventual opening round at Jyllandsringen was in the first bit of single-seater racing to get back underway in Europe.

The Team FSP driver set the pace in qualifying, but his fastest lap was set under yellow flag conditions and his second-best laptime wasn’t good enough for pole. He followed the higher-profile debutant Juju Noda home in race one, picked up a podium in the reversed-grid race two and then won from pole in race three. A second win at Padborg Park bolstered a title attack and soon after becoming champion he began testing with Prema, who he now races for in Italian F4.

Read the report

Isack Hadjar FRANCE 14 years, 10 months & 25 days
2019 French F4, Spa-Francorchamps race three

Photo: FFSA Academy

French F4 existed long before the FIA’s own concept of the category, and has continued to allow drivers as young as 14 to compete in their own ‘Junior’ classification separate to FIA honours. So while a Junior driver could win every race going, they would not eligible to be the official champion of the series outright if they are 14 years old.

Junior karting graduate Hadjar actually got some racing experience in the Ginetta Junior Winter Series before joining French F4 Junior, where he only had two classification rivals. He came second in the Junior standings and seventh in French F4’s own overall championship courtesy of his breakthrough Spa-Francorchamps win and a Ledenon podium.

He stayed in the series for 2020 and was seriously impressive, but was overshadowed by two very experienced Honda-backed rivals. That flipped around when he and champion Ayumu Iwasa went to Asian F3 at the start of this year, as Hadjar comfortably had the upper hand and has since won in Monaco in the Formula Regional European Championship.

Read the report

Danial Frost SINGAPORE 14 years, 9 months & 19 days
2016-17 F4 South East Asia, Sepang race three

The Indy Lights rookie has raced all across the globe, and his career started in the first ever round of F4 South East Asia. The six-race meeting included three wins for Frost and the points lead, but missing the next round and then three successive retirements at Sentul contributed to him being fifth in the standings come the end of the season in early 2017.

Read the report

Theo Pourchaire FRANCE 14 years, 9 months & 13 days
2018 French F4, Spa-Francorchamps race two

The record holder for the youngest driver to win in F1’s primary support series also broke the record for the youngest person to win a single-seater race in Europe prior to the recent crop of baby-faced Danish F4 stars.

Like Hadjar, Pourchaire competed in French F4 Junior and was the champion of that classification by some margin. It was the first year the series had run to the FIA’s F4 ruleset, and Pourchaire picked up a fourth, a second and a third on his debut.

At Spa he came from sixth in the reversed-grid race to win, twice finished second at Magny-Cours, and ended the season at Paul Ricard with a second and a third. Had he counted in the overall classification, he would have scored 201 points and been very close to third in the standings.

Read the report
The youngest ever winners in F1’s primary feeder series

William Wulf DENMARK 14 years, 9 months & 2 days
2020 Danish F4, Padborg Park race two

Photo: Super GT Denmark

Doing something normally only seen in single-seater racing at a club level, Wulf entered Danish F4 last year as a total privateer and remarkably was on the podium in just his second race.

The technical support had improved by the end of the season, so much so that he was essentially under FSP’s banner, but his win under pressure from Noda at Padborg Park did come as a privateer. He is now an FSP driver in the series, and sits third in the standings after three rounds with 99 points – the exact same amount he scored in the three-round 2020 season.

Read the report

Andres Perez de Lara MEXICO 14 years, 8 months & 12 days
2019-20 NACAM F4, Aguascalientes race one

Andres was quick to learn from race-winning brother Pablo Perez de Lara when he first entered NACAM F4, and it didn’t take long for him to win.

He finished fourth in both of the Mexican Grand Prix support races in his first weekend with RPL Racing, then turned up to round two at the Aguascalientes roval as the fastest driver on track. A double win there made him a title contender, but a further two wins and four other podiums wasn’t enough to keep him near the top in the pandemic-split 2019-20 season.

A dip in F4 form may not be a surprise either when you consider he was on his way to winning the NASCAR Mexico’s third-tier Trucks title aged just 15. He’s stepped up to the second tier now, and is performing well there too.

Read the report

Nico Christodoulou CANADA 14 years, 8 months & 10 days
2019-20 NACAM F4, Mexico City race one

Christodoulou was the winner of that first Mexican GP support race in October 2019, but like Perez de Lara he had an early peak and ended up finishing second in the title race to Noel Leon – who he now races in United States F4.

The Canadian actually started his F4 career midway through 2018 aged 13, racing in the USA and then contesting the entirety of the 2018-19 NACAM F4 season and coming fourth in the points but never quite winning a race.

For 2020 he moved into US F4 and USF2000, and is now in his fourth year of F4 racing aged 16.

Read the report

Juju Noda JAPAN 14 years, 6 months & 18 days
2020 Danish F4, Jyllandsringen race one

Photo: Noda Racing

Noda already had extensive single-seater experience, including in Formula 3 chassis, in series over in her home country of Japan before her father Hideki Noda announced she would be racing in Danish F4 in 2020.

Shortly after turning 13 in 2019 she made her international debut in the Lucas Oil Formula Car Race Series’ winter championship, taking a best finish of fourth, then returned to Japan until a full-time relocation abroad last year.

After extensive testing, Noda – being run by her ex-F1 racer father’s own team – took pole on her F4 debut (after Laursen’s lap was removed) and went on to win to make international headlines.

No more wins followed, as the 14-year-old’s racecraft didn’t match her illustrious speed that sent her to pole in the two remaining rounds as well. Her plan for this year was to race in US F4, and she contested the YACademy Winter Series as a warm-up, but her campaign went no further than free practice for the season opener and she returned to Danish F4.

Read the report

Emmo Fittipaldi BRAZIL 14 years, 5 months & 15 days
2021 Danish F4, Jyllandsringen race two

The Sauber junior is also the son of a former F1 driver, in this case two-time world champion Emerson Fittipaldi. Like Noda, he also headed to the USA for a taste of single-seater action aged 13, although there was only testing involved as initially Fittipaldi targeted a debut in NACAM F4.

A combination of the loosening of travel restrictions during the pandemic, his Sauber backing and a friendly relationship with would-be team-mate Noah Stromsted led to Fittipaldi instead heading to Denmark to make use of its lower age requirement. He claimed his first pole on his second attempt at a qualifying session, and was on course to convert that into a maiden win before Noda hit him out. Redemption came last weekend with a stunning start and a mature drive.

Read the report

Jesse Carrasquedo Jr MEXICO 14 years, 3 months & 23 days
2021 Danish F4, Padborg Park race one

The beneficiary of Noda and Fittipaldi’s crash at Padborg Park was Carrasquedo, who inherited victory after on-the-road winner Noda was disqualified for the clash. The Mexican followed that up with victory in race three of the weekend to leap ahead of his two international rivals in the points, although not making the trip to the rounds before or after means he’s a distant seventh in the standings – although still ahead of Noda.

Before turning 14, Carrasquedo actually debuted in NACAM F4 and came 13th in the championship last year in what was also a part-time campaign.

Read the report

Noah Stromsted DENMARK 14 years, 0 months & 23 days
2021 Danish F4, Jyllandsringen race one

Photo: Formula 4 DK

Like Fittipaldi and Noda, there was some anticipation within the motorsport world for Stromsted’s debut and he delivered.

He started the Jyllandsringen weekend by taking pole, although a timing issue erroneously showed someone else as fastest at first, and then he converted it into a controlling win. What followed was a superb charge to second in the reversed-grid race, and then another win in race three.

Stromsted took fastest lap in all three races, and is already up to sixth in the standings despite missing the first two rounds. He’s coached by former F1 driver Nicolas Kiesa, and has links to Spanish F4 teams that will likely lead to a series switch once he turns 15. With racecraft arguably superior to that of Danish F4’s international contingent, and with his father on hand racing alongside him at FSP, it’s not crazy to picture Stromsted finishing as title runner-up this year.

Read the report

Jak Crawford USA 13 years, 9 months & 1 day
2018-19 NACAM F4, Autodromo Miguel E. Abed race two

Crawford’s age recently made headlines when his Euroformula debut had to be delayed by a day as he had yet to turn 16 and therefore get the required licence to race at that level of single-seaters. It meant he missed all the action at the Portuguese Grand Prix-supporting season opener until Sunday’s race, which was on his birthday, and from the back (courtesy of having not competed in qualifying) he charged up to seventh.

Two weeks later he was back in the car, and took pole position and two wins. The Red Bull junior hasn’t been beaten in qualifying since, and is third in the standings despite missing a third of the races held so far.

Way back in 2013 he hopped south of the border from his US home to race in NACAM F4, and immediately impressed. He finished fifth on his debut at Mexico City, in front of the F1 fraternity, then stood on the F1 podium the next day.

Centre: Crawford

Round two took place at Autodromo Miguel E. Abed, raced on by Formula E this year, and Crawford claimed his first win as well as continuing a run of six podiums in a row. He’d already picked up a second win before turning 14, and then after that won four more times to be title runner-up.

“Just because they let kids race as young as 13 in Mexico doesn’t mean Americans should copy what we did,” his father Tim Crawford said at the time, before adding that he thought external factors prevented a record-breaking title success.

“The Mexican fans are awesome and the best racing fans in the world with crowds bigger than you will see anywhere for F4, but the family who runs Mexican F4 picked the Mexican driver they wanted to win the championship and they made it happen. This series was like the wild, wild west except it was wild, wild Mexico.”

Crawford raced in USF2000 after that, before Red Bull snapped him up and sent him back to F4 for 2020. Strong campaigns in Germany and Italy prompted his 2021 step up to Euroformula and Formula 3 – where he is 20th in the points.

Read the report

More F4 features
Scout Report: Esteban Masson
How Ollie Bearman has risen “to find a new limit” in F4
How Spanish F4 boomed in 2021, and what it has planned next