The Purpose of Formula 4
Young driver development is a complex topic in that the multitude of series available to young racers often makes what should be a relatively straightforward decision more complicated. In an attempt to bring some kind of organization to junior driver development, the FIA spent some time developing a racing series that would cater to karters moving to cars. According to the Federation International de l’Automobile, the Formula 4 category is described as the following:
Launched in 2014, FIA Formula 4 has been created to offer young racing drivers around the world the opportunity to take the first step from karting into the world of single-seater racing.
Designed to be a globally recognised yet affordable step between Karting and the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, FIA Formula 4 allows drivers to compare themselves to the best young talent, not only in their own country, but across other championships around the world. The recipe is undoubtedly a successful one, as present championships boast impressive grids, and new regions are in the process of creating their own F4 setups.
The F4 car has been designed to keep costs down while providing an ideal learning tool for young drivers who have never raced cars before.
Formula 4 around the world
Currently there are 12 officially recognized Formula 4 championships around the world with France deciding for this year to adhere to the FIA Formula 4 regulations. In the United States, the USF4 Championship is entering its third year with what looks like another bumper crop of young drivers. For 2018 the championship will be taking place over 6 race weekends with two test weekends at iconic tracks like Virginia International Raceway, Road Atlanta, Mid-Ohio, Pittsburgh International Race Complex, New Jersey Motorsport Park and ending at Circuit of the Americas during the United States Grand Prix weekend. The series works hard to prepare young drivers for a career in motorsport by ensuring that they all take part in mandatory seminars covering everything from racecraft to media and public relations work in addition to giving drivers a minimum of three hours of track time and three races per weekend.
Formula 4 in the United States
With the international growth of Formula 4, I thought now was a good time to talk to Steve Oseth, Vice-President and General Manager of SCCA Pro about the United States Formula 4 Championship and get his input on a couple of issues I had related to this important rung on the young driver development ladder. He was very forthcoming with his time and his enthusiasm for racing and this series in particular was evident.
One of the things that was encouraging about USF4 has been the response to the series. With more than healthy car counts in its first two years and 2018 looking to follow the same pattern, I asked Steve how SCCA Pro felt about the response. “The response has been incredible, and we are particularly happy with the international response to the series with drivers from a wide number of countries participating. And the support and collaboration with the FIA has been welcome.”
With Formula 4 seen by the FIA as an essential step up from karting into cars, I asked Steve what kind of relationship they have forged with karting in the United States. “We have partnered with Honda HPD and Crawford with a SKUSA scholarship that has been well received. No decisions have been made for 2018 but we are close to announcing some good scholarship programs.” Of course, hand in hand with the step up from karting is budget and that is something that the championship is well aware of. While racing will always be expensive, Oseth feels that a budget is still reasonable with what you get. “Median arrive and drive effort with a good team is $175k. If you own the car it can be less”