Louis Sharp scores podium in impressive F4 debut at Brands Hatch
Kiwi rising star Louis Sharp has continued his formative preparations for the ROKiT F4 British Championship certified by FIA with three more successful pre-season tests at race circuits throughout the UK.
Following his impressive debut at Brands Hatch at the start of the month, the talented Rodin Cars supported teenager has now completed equally positive tests at Snetterton, Croft and Knockhill – three more of the venues on the 2022 F4 calendar.
“It’s been a fantastic experience and great preparation – I’ve already done more laps over here than I did in my entire Formula Ford career back in New Zealand!” reported Sharp who’s been gaining in confidence as he learns all these new tracks in readiness for the races ahead.
Running alongside the prestigious British Touring Car Championship, the F4 British Championship blasts off at Donington Park on 23/24 April. However, as the youngest racer on the 2022 grid, Sharp will have to wait until after his 15th birthday to open his campaign three weeks later at Brands Hatch.
When the flag finally drops, the Kiwi kid will be racing against a number of notable rising stars representing the junior academies of McLaren, Mercedes and Williams F1 teams. Like them, Sharp has his sights set on a Formula One future – the prized F4 British Championship is the next step on that ladder to the pinnacle of motorsport.
“Ever since I started racing my goal has always been Formula One – that’s the dream,” enthused the South Islander from Christchurch. “Now I’m about to start racing over here in Europe, that ambition is really starting to unfold.”
For the 2022 campaign Sharp has joined the crack Carlin team that powered McLaren F1 star Lando Norris to the F4 title in 2015 and which boasts an unparalleled record of success in the formula. Carlin also runs fellow New Zealander – and Rodin supported driver – Liam Lawson in the FIA Formula 2 Championship, a series which supports selected Grands Prix.
At just 14 years old, Sharp is a few years behind Lawson on his route to the top and, having already impressed mightily in karting and Formula Ford in New Zealand, the 2022 F4 British Championship is the next step towards the nirvana of a coveted place among the Grand Prix elite.
Having joined a team of Carlin’s international reputation and record of success, those F1 aspirations are now being fast tracked.
“The team has been really good and I’ve already learned heaps of great stuff,” admitted Sharp. “I’ve never experienced such thorough preparations in the past and I’ve certainly learnt a lot in the last few weeks. They’ve also just taken me to three very different circuits, each with their own challenges.
“Snetterton was probably my favourite of the three we’ve just been testing at. I quite liked Croft, too, but it was very bumpy. The layout is quite cool, though, and there’ll be a couple of good passing spots when we race there. As for Knockhill in Scotland, I’ve never seen anything quite like it! The track is so undulating – like a roller-coaster. It takes a lot of confidence as there are a couple of blind corners and some big kerbs that you really need to attack. It’s certainly very different to what I’ve been used to.”
After the idiosyncrasies of Snetterton, Croft and Knockhill, Sharp is now very much looking forward to his first-ever experiences of Silverstone which hosts the series’ official pre-season media day at the start of next month.
To date, the promising young gun has been cutting his teeth behind the wheel of one of last year’s first generation Formula 4 single-seaters – soon, however, he will switch to one of the latest second generation chassis which will come with an F1-style halo safety device as well as a very distinctive Rodin livery.
It will be milestone occasion and one which the New Zealander is eagerly awaiting. “It’s still a couple of weeks away but I’m really looking forward to what’s going to be a very proud moment,” he acknowledged. “It’s going to be very special to see my name on one of the latest F4 cars in Rodin colours.”