RACING

The 6 Formula 4 drivers with the biggest hit in Formula 1 – F1 Feeder Series

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Every year in motorsport, many young drivers join the entry level of single-seater racing, Formula 4, with the hope of one day fulfilling their dream of racing in an F1 Grand Prix. This year, a number of interesting prospects from around the world could, if given the chance, do just that. F1 Feeder Series analyzes the best candidates.

By Alexander Studenkov

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Before we start with the six names chosen, it should be noted that this article is not a definitive prediction of who will reach Formula 1. Each driver develops at a different pace from another; therefore, it is not certain that all the drivers on this list will be able to achieve their big goal. Nor does it mean that drivers who just missed out on the cup still can’t reach F1 in the future. Factors such as funding and academy support are crucial to the progression of a talent and the different facets of the industry can prevent drivers from making their mark.

Andrea Kimi Antonelli – 15 years old, Prema Racing (Italian/ADAC F4)

Starting with the best-known driver in the category, Kimi Antonelli has earned attention for his dominance of the Italian and German F4 series this season. From the start of his series feeder journey in 2021, it was evident that the man from Bologna, Italy, had an immense level of skill and a great understanding of his machines, which he has used to win so far. 17 races this year, with him currently being on six straight wins and counting in his national championship.

The talent first spotted by Ferrari in 2017 is in his fifth year with the Mercedes Junior team, an academy which has so far brought together each of its drivers, namely Pascal Wehrlein, Esteban Ocon and the current team driver George Russell. until the main game, which will give Antonelli hope for the future of his career.

Andrea Kimi Antonelli, Prema Racing | Credit: Prema Racing

Alex Dunne – 16, US Racing (Italian F4); Hitech GP (British F4)

Alex Dunne is a name that has only recently risen to prominence thanks to his performances in British F4, although more observant people would have been keeping tabs on him from the start of his F4 debut. After scoring a first pole as Pinnacle Motorsport’s only car in the opening round of the Spanish F4 series, the Irishman moved up to the German championship mid-season, where he scored two podiums and two pole positions.

This season proved to be his breakthrough, as after two wins in F4 UAE he would claim a bunch of podiums in Italy while having to face rivals Prema being far ahead of all other teams. His biggest asset was his weight, which he used to great effect in British F4, winning nearly half the races and leading the standings by a comfortable margin at the start of the second half of the season. With his father suggesting Dunne would make the move to FIA Formula 3 in the coming year, the County Offaly man has every chance of showing himself to the prying eyes of the F1 paddock.

Alex Dunne, GP Hitech | Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Nikola Tsolov – 15, Campos Racing (Spanish F4)

Unlike Dunne, Tsolov no longer wants to make his name known to the big names in the industry, since the young Bulgarian is a member of the riders affiliated with Alpine. On top of that, he has a direct link to the two-time Alpine F1 driver and Fernando Alonso through Spain’s A14 Management program, which gave Tsolov the opportunity to consult the two-time world champion on his driving and plans. coming. .

Speaking of Tsolov’s driving, a very strong final year in karting, finishing fourth in the European Championship despite dominating KR Motorsport, was followed by what can only be described as an annihilation of the Spanish F4 grid. Two stalls from pole position cost him victory in the first moto were the only missed chances in a season in which the Bulgarian took nine wins – in just 12 races.

Nikola Tsolov, Campos Race | Credit: Spanish F4

Rafael Câmara – 17 years old, Prema Racing (Italian/ADAC F4)

Becoming a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy at the end of last year, the Brazilian has always been a driver in contention for podiums and victories, even from the back of the grid. Câmara has shown to possess a great level of speed and has the ability to progress down the pitch in a short time.

As a rookie, Câmara has been there since his debut in the United Arab Emirates, where he took second place in the championship despite missing the first round due to Covid, and he now only sits behind Antonelli in the Italian and German F4 championships. . His results are impressive, but the fact that he is convincingly beaten by his Italian rival makes it difficult to fully assess his skills going forward.

Rafael Camara, Prema Racing | Credit: Prema Racing

Ugo Ugochukwu – 15, Pug (British F4)

The only member of the McLaren Young Driver programme, Ugochukwu took part in a busy testing program over the winter ahead of his British F4 Championship debut with Carlin, which would come on his 15th birthday.e birthday. A first pole position made the celebrations even sweeter, and the Nigerian-American has scored six podiums so far this season, including a victory at the Brands Hatch Indy circuit.

The 2020 European Junior Karting Champion was particularly impressive in qualifying, despite only taking that one pole, although his racing craft needs to be perfected if he is to reach the heights of Formula 1.

Ugo Ugochuckwu, Carlin Racing | Credit: Carlin Racing

Hugh Barter – 16, Campos Racing (Spanish F4); French F4

Barter is already a seasoned driver by the standards of this track record, having taken second place in the frenetic three-way duel for the French F4 crown last season. After considering a switch to FRECA for 2022, the Japanese-born Australian returned to France in hopes of winning the championship. It has been a deserved decision so far, as Barter has pulled out a 67-point gap after just three rounds, his impressive performance in the long runs stealing the show from the rest of the grid.

He also races with Campos in the Spanish F4 series, although this has presented him with more challenges: while Barter is embroiled in a fight for second place overall, his rookie teammate Tsolov has created a virtually insurmountable gap with the Australian , which could minimize his achievements in France. However, without a lack of financial support, it will be easier for him to progress through the different categories of the ladder, opening up opportunities for Barter that others would not have.

Hugh Barter Campos F4 Formula 4 2022
Hugh Barter in Formula 4 | Credit: Hugh Barter Racing

Header photo credit: Prema Racing

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