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Louis Sharp is a double winner in Abu Dhabi

23 November 2022

Louis Sharp is a double winner in Abu Dhabi

Louis Sharp signed off his stellar debut Formula 4 season in terrific style with two outstanding victories in Abu Dhabi, once again marking his card as one of the sport’s top emerging young talents – this time, crucially, in front of the Formula 1 teams for which he dreams of driving in the future.

With backing from Rodin Cars, the exalted New Zealand hypercar company, the talented youngster has already underlined his potential in the British F4 Championship, finishing an impressive fourth overall despite being the youngest driver on the grid and missing the opening three races while waiting for his 15th birthday. 

His stunning victories on the Yas Marina Circuit, however, were Sharp’s most significant performances to date, and all the more outstanding as he arrived in the Middle East with a mountain to climb. 

Sharp not only had to handle the pressures of competing on a high-profile Grand Prix bill for the very first time in his fledgling career but also only had a 45-minute practice session on Friday morning to learn the new circuit, adapt to new tyres and to familiarise himself with a new car as he’d be racing one of the 150mph F4 Tatuus-Abarth single-seaters based in the Middle East rather than his customary chassis from the British series. His Carlin team were F4 rookies at Abu Dhabi, too, and Rodin Cars founder David Dicker was also in the pits watching his young protégé.

Adding further still to the challenge, the opposition included several local aces plus Alex Dunne, the 17-year-old Irishman who was recently crowned British F4 Champion as well as runner-up in the Italian series.

Having also contested the 2022 UAE Championship, Dunne had previous experience on the Yas Marina Circuit and it was no surprise that the odds-on favourite topped the time sheets after the Friday morning practice session. Sharp, however, was quick to learn and finished the 45 minutes an encouraging third fastest. 

Friday evening’s spectacular qualifying was staged under the floodlights. Dunne was again fastest, but the emerging Kiwi star had closed the gap significantly and, though still in third spot, was now right in the mix for Saturday morning’s first showdown.

Third swiftly became second with a good start to the opening 25-minute race… and then first as the inspired teenager caught and passed Dunne, finally crossing the chequered flag after 13 laps nearly six seconds clear of the chasing field to score a famous victory.

Making the occasion all the more special, Sharp proudly stood on the top step of the Formula 1 podium (an omen for the future, perhaps?) to receive his winner’s trophy and was saluted with the New Zealand national anthem. 

In winning, the Rodin young gun had also set the fastest lap, handing him pole position for the second of the weekend’s two F4 Trophy Races to be staged on Sunday morning as a curtain-raiser to the season-finale Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. 

With Dunne alongside the opening lap was always going to be fiercely fought and the pair went wheel-to-wheel for several corners before Sharp battled his way to the fore. In the skirmish, Dunne lost his front wing bringing out the first of two safety cars while the debris was cleared. 

Displaying incredible maturity, Sharp kept his cool throughout to complete an amazing double victory – and a second visit to the top step of the podium – in front of the F1 team bosses. 

“Racing in Abu Dhabi has been an incredible experience and I can’t thank David Dicker and Rodin Cars enough – without their wonderful support none of this would be possible,” said a delighted Sharp. 

“Having only raced at home in New Zealand, I really had no idea how I would stack up against the very best of international opposition. My performances in the British Championship, now topped by these two wins in Abu Dhabi, give me lots of confidence and self-belief going forward. To stand on top of the F1 podium and hear the New Zealand anthem was just so, so cool.”  

With his 2022 season now completed in sensational style, Sharp is heading home to New Zealand for the first time in eight months to take a well-deserved break and be reunited with friends and family. His racing plans for 2023 will be announced in the coming weeks.


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