Category Archives: Feeder Series

Logan Sargeant’s Most Impressive Season Yet

Written by Morgan Holiday, Edited by Aziz Mlik

The 2021 FIA Formula 3 season is now over, with Prema Racing’s Dennis Hauger dominating the driver’s title while Trident took home the constructor’s title for the first time in the series. In an exciting and drama-filled season, twelve different drivers managed to stand on the top step of the podium. One of those twelve drivers was Logan Sargeant.

Last year’s title contender, the American Logan Sargeant, finished seventh in the standings, which seems like an unimpressive feat for the driver that could have easily won the 2020 championship. But there’s more to say about Sargeant’s 2021 season, and why, despite the numbers, it might be his most impressive one yet.

It’s crucial to begin by studying Sargeant’s junior career to understand his story. In 2015 Sargeant became the first American to win the Kart Federation Junior Championship since Lake Speed won it in 1978. From there, he raced in the Formula 4 UAE Championship, where he finished second in the series. The following year, he finished third in the F4 British Championship. In 2018 he raced in Formula Renault Eurocup, before joining Formula 3 with Carlin Buzz Racing in 2019. Aside from a podium at the Macau Grand Prix that year, Sargeant’s first season of Formula 3 was relatively unimpressive, finishing 19th in the standings with five points to his name.

But for the 2020 Formula 3 season, Sargeant signed with Prema Racing, the most dominant team in all the Formula 1 feeder series. Having also signed Oscar Piastri and Frederik Vesti, the Italian team claimed the team championship over Trident by more than 200 points. But the driver’s title that year was much more competitive, with Piastri and Sargeant headed into the final race of the season at Mugello tied on points for the lead, and ART’s Théo Pourchaire also in contention. After Sargeant was taken out on the first lap of the race, Pourchaire finished second overall in the standings while Piastri took the title.

But third place in the standings doesn’t tell the whole story of Sargeant’s season with Prema. He took two wins, the same number as Piastri and Pourchaire, as well as three pole positions, more than any other driver that season. But Piastri won in the end, and consequently made the step up to Formula 2 with Prema for 2021, taking Mick Schumacher’s place alongside Robert Schwartzman.

Unfortunately for Sargeant, in order to make the jump to Formula 2, you need something he didn’t have: money. Any given driver in Formula 2 has to pay upwards of €1 million for a spot at one of the teams. Even a return to Formula 3 was looking unlikely, and the American was looking elsewhere for opportunities to race. And then, the week of Round 1 of the 2021 Formula 3 season, he was announced at Charouz Racing System alongside Enzo Fittipaldi and Reshad De Gerus. This move would be a step down from Sargeant’s previous team, but he took the opportunity to stay within the Formula 1 feeder series for another season.

In the 2020 Formula 3 season, Charouz finished last in the team standings, with five points to their name. 2021 saw the Czech team leap up to fifth in the standings, having scored a total of 127 points. Enzo Fittipaldi scored 25 of those points, with the other 102 claimed by Sargeant. Without his points, the team would have had the same number of points as Carlin, who finished last in the standings. Instead, they climbed halfway up the ladder, an impressive jump for a team with nothing to show for its two previous years in the series. Sargeant not only gifted the team their highest points score in Formula 3, but also their first podium and first win.

The key to Formula 3 with the 2021 format is to qualify in the top twelve, as the positions of those drivers are reversed for the sprint race grids. Even though the Charouz car wasn’t really fast enough to qualify anywhere near the points, Sargeant managed to be in the top twelve every single qualifying session, something not even the championship winner managed to do. He had a best qualifying result of fifth place and a worst of twelfth. His quick pace in qualifying allowed him to start much higher in the sprint races, which earned him many of his best results.

Sargeant’s first podium of the season, and the team’s first Formula 3 podium ever, was third place in sprint race 1 in Round 3 at Austria, which was taken away after he was one of eight drivers to receive a post-race time penalty for exceeding track limits. He then went on to score a podium in every round for the rest of the season, taking third place in both Hungary and Belgium, second place at Zandvoort, and finally a win in Sochi. Those performances, along with the fact that he only finished two races outside of the points, gave him seventh in the standings when all was said and done. Although Prema came close to winning the team championship that season, Sargeant still managed to outscore two of his ex-team’s drivers, with Hauger’s teammates Olli Caldwell and Arthur Leclerc finishing eighth and tenth respectively. 

Despite almost winning the championship in 2020 and massively outperforming his car in 2021, whether or not Sargeant will make the step up to Formula 2 is still unknown. Financially speaking, it’s unlikely that he’ll be able to unless someone steps in. Formula 1 has been vocal about its interest in having an American driver on the grid, and yet the most promising American talent in the feeder series is on the verge of losing his chance at a seat. In order for Sargeant to have a chance at a Formula 2 seat, someone will likely have to sponsor him.

Sargeant’s other option would be to join a driver academy, should one be interested in signing him. Mclaren currently only has one junior driver in its academy, Ugo Ugochukwu, a thirteen-year-old American karter. Although the Formula 1 team seems set with its current lineup for some time to come, having a driver higher up in the junior categories could be beneficial to the team, and American CEO Zak Brown could very well be interested in some more American talent. The only other academy Sargeant could likely join would be the Williams Driver Academy. Having recently dropped Dan Ticktum from its programme, Williams team principal Jost Capito has stated interest in developing “a serious and proper junior programme.” 

Even if Sargeant receives backing from a Formula 1 academy, he will most likely still need sponsorship money to join Formula 2, as most junior academies don’t fund their drivers’ seats. If there is a rich American out there looking to get one of their country’s drivers into Formula 1, now is their chance. Sargeant has the pace and the talent, all he needs is the money.

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Everything You Need To Know About the Halo

Written by Tessa Lee Edited by Harshi Vashee

The recent collision between Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in Monza highlighted the crucial role that Halos play in a sport as dangerous and thrilling as Formula One.

How It Works

The Halo is made of titanium metal and is fitted on the car’s cockpit. It circles the driver’s head and protects the driver from head injuries on the track caused by flying debris from car collisions or crashes into large barriers. With its ability to deflect and stop large debris from contacting the driver’s head, it is one of the most essential safety installations the FIA has introduced into the sport. Heralded as the ‘strongest part of the car’, the Halo can absorb 12 tonnes (12000 kilograms) in weight and has been quoted by Mercedes to withstand “the weight of a London bus”.

When and Why it was introduced

Between 1950 to 1994, 37 fatalities were spanning across 29 Formula One circuits. Late F2 driver Henry Surtees was killed in 2009 when he was struck on the head by the wheel and tyre of a neighbouring car at the Brands Hatch Circuit in England. At the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka, late F2 driver Jules Bianchi perished after sustaining a head injury after a fatal crash. In 2015, late IndyCar driver Justin Wilson was declared dead after a piece of debris from another car struck his helmet at the Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania. The three fatal incidents were catalysts for the officials’ decision to first introduce the Halo to F1 in 2018. The FIA subsequently added it to F2, F3, F4 and other open-wheel racing series like IndyCar and Formula E. 

The Initial Controversy Surrounding the Halo

When the FIA first introduced the Halo cockpit protection system, the mandate was met with strong protest from F1 drivers and fans alike. F1 fans were especially robust in their opposition, with some arguing that it would ruin the overall aesthetic aspect of the car. Others believed that it would interfere with the drivers’ on-track visibility. With how it would interfere with the onboard pole lap videos, fans would also have trouble seeing the drivers in the cockpit. To most, the fans perceived that the Halo would rob the sport of its traditionally risky open-cockpit racing concept.

While current Alfa Romeo driver Kimi Raikkonen so aptly described halo visibility as “OK” when it was mandated in 2018, other drivers criticised the newly introduced frontal protection device. Similar to the fans, former Haas driver Kevin Magnussen was scathing on the aesthetics factor of the halo and supported his claim by stating that “It takes away some of the passion that F1 is talking about” and referred to how “[the halo] looks shit, it is shit.” Additionally, current Red Bull driver Max Verstappen thought the car needed to retain its “certain element of risk” and stated that “It’s not just the looks, I don’t think it is necessary.”

While the device did indeed encounter a fair amount of criticism, it also faced exceptional support. Current Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel and Alpine driver Fernando Alonso had spoken out in favour of the Halo after the FIA’s statistics had been presented to the drivers. Current Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, who had initially objected to the physical appearance of the Halo, supported the decision after FIA studies demonstrated that, with the Halo, the chances of surviving an accident would increase by 17%.

Significant Events in F1 Since the Introduction of the Halo

Despite the initial criticisms and condemnation of the Halo, recent events in F1 have been a blatant testament to its vital role in ensuring the safety of the drivers and protecting them from fatal accidents.

1. Romain Grojean’s Crash in Bahrain 2020

An unexpected situation in modern-day F1, former Haas driver Romain Grosjean’s fiery crash into the Bahrain barriers and the medical car’s quick response made the frontlines on all race coverages. Despite the vehicle being split in half and engulfed in flames, the FIA’s safety precautions – Halo included – prevented Grojean from sustaining severe and potentially fatal injuries, allowing him to escape virtually unscathed from the incident. 

Alongside the other drivers, Grosjean had opposed the proposition of a Halo when it was first suggested, stating that “[he still didn’t] think it [had] a place for it in Formula One.” Had the crash occurred before the compulsory installation of the Halo, it is likely that Grosjean would not have survived the crash. “I wasn’t for the halo some years ago, but [now] I think it’s the greatest thing that we’ve had in Formula One and without it I wouldn’t be able to speak to you today”, said Grosjean.

2. Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton’s Crash in Monza 2021

The collision between championship rivals Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton is one for the history books. Despite the criticism towards the Halo, its usefulness has been emphasised repeatedly, and none more so than now. The crash had Verstappen’s Red Bull lift off a sausage curb and its rear wheel land on seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton’s helmet through the protective halo, resulting in the Red Bull landing on top of the Mercedes in the gravel. 

While the wheel did indeed hit his head, the Halo had prevented a major impact. “I feel very, very fortunate today. Thank God for the halo. That did ultimately save me, you know, and saved my neck,” said Lewis Hamilton to reporters. Afterwards, Hamilton stated that he would have to meet a specialist to receive a routine medical check-up for the blow to his head.

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An Overview of the British F4 Championship (And Why It’s Really Good!)

Written by Tom Evans, edited by Umut Yelbasi

Unfortunately there was no Formula 1 last weekend, which is rather unusual since most of us are getting used to the frequent double and triple headers that we have been watching over the recent months. In need of something to fill my weekend with, I decided to tune into the British F4 Championship to be pleasantly surprised by the quality of racing and some much needed entertainment! So here is my rundown of why you should definitely tune into the remaining rounds of the season!

Illustration by Tom Evans

Reason 1: The Tracks and Watching the Races

As the name suggests, British F4 races exclusively in Britain. The track list includes Thruxton, Snetterton, Brands Hatch, Oulton Park, Knock Hill, Croft, Silverstone and Donnington Park. These are all tracks with at least a grade 3 FIA certification, so they provide excellent facilities and awesome racing. As well as the great tracks, ticket prices are very low compared to other motorsport events, even going as little as £40 for a weekend! And as an added bonus, British F4 accompanies the British Touring Car Championship so you can watch those races whilst at the track as well.

In terms of TV viewing, all Sunday races are free to watch on ITV4 in the UK, adding to a long list of reasons to tune in!

Reason 2: The Car and the Teams

Like many support series, British F4 is a spec series meaning all teams must run the exact same Mygale chassis, Ford 1.6L Ecoboost Engine and Hankook F200 slick tyres. Whilst this Ford engine only pumps out 160HP – which is half of what you get in a stock VW Golf R – the sheer lightness of the chassis means that these cars are still good for over 160mph (257,5 kmh). And on top of that, these cars are about 30mm narrower than their F1 equivalent, which helps the wheel to wheel racing to be even closer.

Now the teams. In series such as FIA F3 or FIA F2 we have gotten accustomed to teams such as Prema and ART Grand Prix dominating the field with their superior team management and engineers. But in British F4, all 6 teams (Arden, Argentina, Carlin, Fortec, JHR and Richardson Racing) are operating at a similar level, meaning that it’s all about the drivers to supply the good results.

Reason 3: The Drivers

As with any feeder series, British F4 boasts some serious talent, with drivers looking to prove themselves to any prying eyes potentially watching. This amounts to all drivers pushing themselves to the limit (and occasionally over it) to prove their worth. But unlike other series, British F4 aims to be one of the cheapest single seater series in the world. This makes money less of an issue, making it easier for the most talented drivers to enter the world of racing.

Reason 4: The Future

Next year, the series will be rebranded into the GB4 championship, with a brand new chassis, halo, tyre supplier and engine. This shows that lots of brands and sponsors see potential in the series, which means you should too! So next time you see an article about it on your go-to motorsport news website (which should definitely be us), don’t forget to check it out!

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 An interview with Matthew Rees

Interview conducted by Tom Evans, Edited by Harshi Vashee

We recently were lucky enough to sit down for an interview with Welsh racing driver Matthew Rees,

Tom: First of all, who are you and in what series do you currently race in?

Matthew: Hi, I’m Matthew Rees and I’m currently racing in the British F4 2021 Championship. 

Tom: When did you start to take an interest in Motorsport?

Matthew: When I was 6 years old, I stepped into a kart for the first time at Llandow Kart Club and I have been racing ever since. 

Tom: Who were your biggest idols growing up, in racing or not? 

Matthew: One of my biggest idols has got to definitely be Kimi Räikkönen because he is a very quiet individual, something that I see in myself and he does all his talking on the track. 

Tom: Why did you choose your driver number? 

Matthew: Number 35 is the race number that I used in my cadet years and is the number that scored me my first ever seeded number so the number has stuck with me ever since. 

Tom: Why did you decide to start karting?

Matthew: I grew up in a car. My family and both my grandparents owned their own garages so for as long as I can remember this has been a passion that the whole family shares and I am really pleased to be able to live out my passion for racing in F4 

Tom: You maintained an impressive level of consistency during the 2017 Super1 National cadet championship (karting), but what is the key to this?

Matthew: Mostly the key to my consistency would definitely be in the preparation, as myself and the team around me spent plenty of time beforehand testing and practicing lots of race craft needed for the season ahead. Another thing that helped me with consistency was learning to deal with pressure in high stress situations as this was key to defining my final outcome. 

Tom: You didn’t race in any series in 2020, so what was the most difficult part of jumping into a brand new series after a year out?

Matthew: The most difficult part about jumping into a new series is learning how to use the gears effectively and learning about the downforce as this plays a key factor in keeping up continuous speed around all the tracks

Tom: As of this interview you are currently leading the British F4 championship. How do you handle the pressure and do you think you can go all the way?

Matthew: One way that I cope with the pressure is to think about each race as it comes and not focus on the championship. This way I can try and perform to the best of my ability. Overall I think that after the first half of the season we are standing in good stead, with a strong team and kit around us. We could go all the way but it will be a close battle as there are plenty of worthy drivers on this year’s grid. 

Tom: And finally what do you hope for the future of your career?

Matthew: In the future obviously the main aim is to make it to Formula 1 and be in a good enough car to challenge for the title but if that is not the case, I would like to be able to do what I love and get paid for a living.

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Woman’s Crush Wednesday: Abbi Pulling

Abbi Pulling is a British racing driver who, at the young age of 18, is a British Karting Champion and has made her debut in the W-series whilst currently racing in British Formula 4!

Written by bruna Brito and Aiden Hover, Edited by Tanishka Vashee

Abbi started racing in 2012 and had already made it to the podium at the Tattershall Kart Club by April of the same year. This successful sting was followed by an acceptance in the ARKS test at Fulbeck, her first non-MSA final, and becoming the last MSA WTP Champion, winning the 2012/2013 Winter Series at the Trent Valley Kart Club.

In 2013, Abbi started to compete all over the British Isles. In her first full year of karting, she participated in the Little Green Man Championship, broke the lap record at Fulbeck and Rowrah and set numerous fastest laps.

Continuing in karting, Abbi pulled to the highest categories, gaining a lot of popularity in 2016, when she was promoted to the Tal-Ko Junior TKM Kart. This time with the team brought in good results as Abbi dominated the category in 2017 and won the Wessex championship.

2018 was a major milestone in the rising star’s career. Abbi won the British Championship again, being the first person to win the Junior TKM title consecutively. And at the same time, she was making her motorsport debut in the Junior Ginetta Championship.

Currently, Abbi Pulling is competing in British Formula 4, supporting the British Touring Car Championship. In relation to her recent W Series debut, the 18 years-old driver said: “I’m over the moon to be making my W Series debut at Silverstone and I want to show people what I can do. I’ve never been to the British Grand Prix weekend before and I can’t even begin to imagine what the atmosphere will be like racing in front of a full home crowd. It will be a very special occasion and, whatever the result, something that will stay with me forever.”

Also, last weekend, one of our divebomb collaborators had the privilege of seeing Abbi Pulling in action at Thruxton where he was hugely impressed by her aggressive and intriguing driving style. Abbie seemed to have no fear when she went for a move – particularly in race two, where she climbed to the lead before being involved in a crash later on that unfortunately put to rest any chance of gaining that elusive race win. However, she came back fighting again in race three showing she had lost none of her confidence behind the wheel! 

As always, the team at Divebomb can’t wait to see what the future holds for Abbi and wish her all the best and hope for her to have a stellar career in the world of racing. 

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An Interview with Joseph Loake

Interviewed by Tom Evans, Edited by Harshi Vashee

Joseph Loake (15) is an extremely talented racing driver, currently competing in the British Formula 4 championship and has racked up 2 wins and 3 podiums in the series to date.

Tom: First of all, when did you start to take an interest in Motorsport?

Joseph: When I was 10, I really got into F1, so (I) started karting to try it out for myself, so (I) signed up for the NatSKA championship for a bit of fun.

Tom: Who were the racing drivers you admired the most growing up?

Joseph: Ayrton Senna and Max Verstappen. The aggression they show on track is what makes them the best in the world and I think that’s what creates champions.

Tom: Why did you choose your current driver number?

Joseph: I originally wanted 48 (I can’t remember why but for some reason I really wanted that) however, it had already been taken, so I flipped the numbers and made it 84.

Tom: In 2016 you won the NatSKA championship in your rookie season. What was the most rewarding part of winning a major championship for the first time?

Joseph: It gave me the want and belief to try and make a career out of motorsport. I realised that maybe I was actually ok at driving so I wanted to see if maybe I could make a career out of it.

Tom: Last year (2020) you took the BRSCC Fiesta Junior Championship with dominant fashion winning 8 out of 8 races! But what was the most difficult part of achieving this?

Joseph: I don’t think anyone expected me to be so dominant in Fiesta Junior, however I think I achieved it by a lot of hard work on and off track, making sure I maximised my full potential.

Tom: You’ve chosen to race in the British F4 championship for 2021. What was the hardest part of adapting to a new series?

Joseph: I think the biggest challenge was getting used to the huge car difference. Once I got used to the car it was no different than any other championship in my eyes. There’s other cars on track and I want to finish in front of them.

Tom: You won your first F4 race this year, how did it feel to win at such a high level?

Joseph: It was amazing. No words describe the feeling. It was just so unexpected as I set myself a goal of a top 10 finish going into the weekend. To come out with a victory in my first race weekend was such an incredible achievement for me and everyone else who helped me along the way!

Tom: And finally, what are your hopes for the future of your career?

Joseph: I hope to make it to formula 1, and I believe that I can do that. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time.

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WOMAN CRUSH WEDNESDAY: LEENA GADE THE FIRST FEMALE ENGINEER TO WIN 24 HOURS OF LE MANS

Written by Bruna Brito, Edited by Esmée Koppius

Leena Gade became the first female race engineer to win the 24 hours of Le Mans in 2011.

Born in Perivale in the United Kingdom, the passion for speed started when the family moved to India, and on the way back to the UK. With the influence of her younger sister, they started watching Formula One together. (Fun fact: Teena, Leena’s younger sister also become race engineer)

Fascinated and curious to understand how those amazing machines work, Leena chose to study engineering at the University of Manchester, graduating with a master’s degree in aerospace engineering in 1988, along with only 5 more female students, becoming the only one in her class to graduate.

Her first job was at Jaguar Cars, as vehicle refinement engineer, spending part-time as engineer for racing teams like BMW.

In 2006, she had her first contact with Le Mans, when she helped the team to construct the Chamberlain Tréluyer Synergy prototype. However it was only in 2011, when her incredible work was more recognized, that she became the first female race engineer to win at Le Mans, with the drivers Benoît Trèluyer, Marcel Fässler and André Lotterer with Audi Sport Team Joest. Claiming the winner animais in 2012 and 2014.

“When the car crossed the finish line I turned around and everyone else in the pit was crying and I couldn’t understand why. In my head I understood what was going on and we were going to make it to the finish line, whereas everybody else was saying, ‘Oh my God, that was so close.’ Well, 13 seconds is still quite a lot, guys, even after 24 hours.”

In the year of 2012, Jeena Gade was named for the FIA World Endurance Championship “Man of the Year” being also condecorated with the C&R Racing Women in Technology award, and ambassador of FIA Commission for Women in the Motorsport, in 2013.

Jeena continued her career as race engineer for James Hinchcliffe, a Canadian driver, who raced for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ Indycar program. 

In 2019, Gade entered the WeatherTech Sportscar Championship. Later that year, she was appointed president of the FIA GT Commission, global Grand tourer racing.

Jeena Gade has a positive and great impact on the Motorsport world, as a role model, inspiring millions and we appreciate her tremendous effort and hard work.

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WOMAN CRUSH WEDNESDAYS: SOPHIE KUMPEN, More than Max’s mum

Discussions about Max Verstappen have been a trending topic for a while, and rightfully so! After six years in the sport, the young Dutchman finally seems to be within reach of a World Championship. Most people say that the talent and passion for racing are in his blood, for his Father Jos Verstappen was Formula One driver. 

Written by Tanishka Vashee, Edited by Bruna Brito

Which is true, racing is in his blood! Not only Jos but his mother, Sophie Kumpen too had a successful racing career.

Sophie hails from Hasselt, Belgium. She grew up watching her uncle Paul Kumpen compete in Rally. In an interview, she talked about all the sports and hobbies she tried out, including ballet but was instantly ruled out as being too wild for the graceful discipline. Kumpen discovered her talent and passion in karting at the age of 10, she said that the speed brought her a lot of thrill.

In 1991, at the age of 16, she was considered a great talent, finishing 9th in the Formula A World Championship. The following year, she raced in the Karting World Championship; she finished 26th and then 17th in 1994.

In 1995, she won a race for the Andrea Margutti Trophy, where she beat former F1 drivers like Jarno Trulli and Allen Simonsen. This was also the year Jenson Button became her teammate! The two of them were really competitive, often racing against each other. 

He wasn’t the only renowned name in today’s paddock she has competed against, Christian Horner has raced her in the 1989 junior karting world championship. Both Horner and Button speak very highly of her and believe she possessed great talent. 

While her success in Karting proved her mettle, life had other plans for her. Sophie married Jos Verstappen in 1996, the following year the couple welcomed their first child Max and then the next year Victoria. 

Sophie was testing cars and Jos was racing in F1, juggling racing, looking after the children, and supporting Jos in his career became a struggle. She ended her racing career to raise her children and support Jos. 

Sophie has spoken about her desire to race in F1 and how it did not happen, she had to give up on her dream. However, seeing her son do what she dreamed of doing and making his own mark in the sport brings her a lot of joy. 

Women in motorsport have been garnering a lot of attention in recent years, the popularity of motorsports involving women too is headed towards an all-time high. It is important we celebrate the careers of women like Sophie, who have been challenging the norm for more opportunities for women in the world of racing. 

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F1 Driver Development Programmes: Red Bull Junior Team

Written by: Daniel Yi, Edited by: Maya Narang

Besides watching drivers push the limits of engineering in amazingly built race cars as they chase championship titles and race wins, another great aspect of motorsport is following the meteoric rise of talented youngsters coming through the junior racing categories in their pursuit of glory. 

In Formula One, when you think of talented young drivers and prospects, a few names will come to mind. Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Jules Bianchi, Max Verstappen, George Russell and Charles Leclerc are some examples. 

These skilled drivers were each part of a F1 team’s driver development programme which sponsored and helped them in their journey to Formula 1. Red Bull, McLaren, Alpine, Ferrari, Sauber, Williams, and Mercedes all have programmes and invest in them to scout for the next big young racer. Most drivers in the top tiers of racing would have been a part of a development programme at some point in their career. So what’s the history behind these programmes, and who are the racers currently in one?

Today we look into one of the very first driver development programmes. Red Bull’s driver development programme: Red Bull Junior Team.

The history of the Red Bull Junior team is a little strange as there were actually 2 Red Bull Junior Teams. Back in 1989, Dr. Helmut Marko set up and ran a racing team called RSM Marko, which focused on competing in Formula 3 and Formula 3000 (now FIA Formula 2). This venture had two F1 drivers pass through its ranks in Karl Wendlinger and Juan Pablo Montoya. RSM Marko then came under Red Bull sponsorship and ran under the name Red Bull Junior Team from 1999 until its end in 2003. 

The junior team that we know now first had its beginnings in 2001, when Red Bull formed the team as its European driver programme. Its purpose is to uncover and develop talented young racers in open wheel racing, get them into Red Bull’s F1 team, and win the F1 championship. Racers under the programme received support and funding from Red Bull as they progressed through junior tiers of racing. When Red Bull bought Jaguar and formed their very own F1 team in 2005, Christian Klien and Vitantonio Liuzzi became the first graduates from the junior team to get a F1 seat in Red Bull.

Throughout the years, the Red Bull Junior Team has seen many talented drivers. Even though not everyone made it to Formula 1, many of these drivers have gone on to enjoy racing careers in other forms of motorsport. These include Alex Lynn, Tom Blomqvist, Antonio Felix da Costa (FE champion), and Sergio Sette Camara currently racing in Formula E, Pato O’Ward who is currently racing in Indycar, and many others.

Several members of the program made the successful journey to Formula 1. Examples include Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr, Formula E champions Jean-Eric Vergne and Sebastien Buemi, Le Mans winner Brendon Hartley, Alpine reserve Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull test driver Alex Albon and current AlphaTauri drivers Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda. Red Bull has promoted several drivers from Toro Rosso/AlphaTauri, including the likes of Kvyat, Gasly, Albon and most notably, multiple race winners in Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen as well as four-time champion Sebastian Vettel. Red Bull has been considered to be immensely successful with its driver programme, with almost all its F1 drivers coming from their very own academy.

Red Bull Junior members who have gone on to F1

Red Bull Junior graduates who have gone on to F1

Enrique Bernoldi – Arrows (2001-02), BAR Honda test/reserve (2004-06)

Robert Doornbos – Jordan test/reserve (2004), Minardi (2005), Red Bull test/reserve (2006)

Patrick Friesacher – Minardi (2005)

Narain Karthikeyan – Jordan (2005), Williams test/reserve (2006-07), HRT (2011-12)

Christian Klien – Jaguar (2004), Red Bull (2005-06), Honda test/reserve (2007), BMW Sauber test/reserve (2008-09), HRT test/reserve (2010)

Vitantonio Liuzzi – Red Bull (2005), Toro Rosso (2006-07), Force India (2008-10), HRT (2011)

Sebastian Vettel – BMW Sauber test/reserve (2006-07), Toro Rosso (2007-08), Red Bull (2009-14), Ferrari (2015-20), Aston Martin (2021-present)

Scott Speed – Toro Rosso (2006-07)

Neel Jani – Toro Rosso test/reserve (2006)

Michael Ammermüller – Red Bull test/reserve (2006-07)

Sébastien Bourdais – Toro Rosso (2008-09)

Brendon Hartley – RedBull/Toro Rosso test/reserve (2008-10), Mercedes test/reserve (2012-13), Toro Rosso (2017-2018), Ferrari development driver (2019)

Sébastien Buemi – Toro Rosso (2009-11), Red Bull test/reserve (2012-14, 2019)

Jaime Alguersuari – Toro Rosso (2009-11)

Daniel Ricciardo – HRT (2011), Toro Rosso (2012-13), Red Bull (2014-18), Renault (2019-20), McLaren (2021-present)

Jean-Éric Vergne – Toro Rosso (2012-14), Ferrari test/reserve (2015-16)

Daniil Kvyat – Toro Rosso/AlphaTauri (2014, 2016-17, 2019-20), Red Bull (2015-16), Ferrari test/reserve (2018), Alpine reserve (2021-present)

Carlos Sainz Jr. – Toro Rosso (2015-17), Renault (2017-18), McLaren (2019-20), Ferrari (2021-present)

Max Verstappen – Toro Rosso (2015-16), Red Bull (2016-present)

Pierre Gasly – RedBull/Toro Rosso test/reserve (2015-17), Toro Rosso/AlphaTauri (2017-18, 2019, 2020-present), Red Bull (2019)

Sergio Sette Camara – Toro Rosso test (2016), McLaren test (2019), Red Bull/AlphaTauri test/reserve (2020)

Alexander Albon – Toro Rosso (2019), Red Bull (2019-20), Red Bull test/reserve (2021-present)

Yuki Tsunoda – AlphaTauri (2021-present)

Dan Ticktum – Williams development driver (2020-2021)

Callum Ilott – Ferrari/Alfa Romeo test/reserve (2021-present)

Red Bull Juniors

Today, the Red Bull Junior Team includes 8 talented drivers in junior motorsport categories.

Juri Vips

Juri Vips is a 20 year old Estonian driver who currently races in F2 with Hitech GP. After good results in karting, he made his single-seater debut in the Italian and ADAC F4 series in 2016 and won the ADAC F4 championship in 2017. He then joined Motopark for the F3 European Championship in 2018 where he placed fourth in the championship and joined the Red Bull Junior Team in October 2018. In 2019, Vips competed in the inaugural FIA F3 Championship with Hitech GP and came in fourth place with three race wins, a remarkable achievement as the top three places in the championship were snapped up by a dominant Prema team. In 2020, Vips made some forays into the Formula Regional European Championship and Super

Formula but was hindered by COVID-19 restrictions worldwide. He joined DAMS to replace the injured Sean Gelael in F2 in August 2020 and subsequently joined Hitech GP for the 2021 F2 season where he achieved two race wins and four podiums, currently sitting fifth in the standings. He is currently the only Junior Team driver with a superlicense which puts him in a contending position for an AlphaTauri seat should they not continue with Yuki Tsunoda.

Jonny Edgar

At 17 years of age, this talented English driver currently races for Carlin in FIA F3. He won the CIK-FIA European karting championship in 2017 and Red Bull picked him up for the Junior Team in 2018. Since then, he has gone on to make his single-seater debut in Italian F4 with Jenzer Motorsport as well as some guest appearances in ADAC and Spanish F4 in 2019. Edgar picked up two podiums in this campaign and finished 10th in the championship. In 2020, Edgar joined Van Amersfoort Racing, competing in ADAC F4 and part-time in Italian F4 due to the pandemic. Despite that, he came in fourth place in Italian F4 and won the ADAC F4 championship with six wins and 11 podiums to his name. This year, he is driving for Carlin in the FIA F3 championship and is currently 10th in the standings. It seems a bit too early for Edgar to be in the consideration for an F1 seat for the time being, but he still has plenty of time to develop.

Liam Lawson

This 19 year old hails from New Zealand and joined the junior team in 2019. He first made his foray into lower formula categories in New Zealand in 2015. He boasts an extensive resume, having competed in Australian F4 (2017, 2nd place), ADAC F4 (2018, 2nd place), Euroformula Open (2019, 2nd place) and even made his way into FIA F3 and the Toyota racing series in 2019, finishing 11th and 1st respectively. The Kiwi did the same in 2020, improving his F3 position to 5th and earning a 2nd place championship finish in the Toyota Racing Series. This year, he moved onto the FIA F2 championship, competing in Hitech GP alongside fellow Red Bull Junior teammate Juri Vips. He currently sits eighth in the standings with one win and two podiums. Additionally, he is racing in DTM alongside Alex Albon where he has a win and three podiums, sitting second in the standings. Lawson could definitely be a candidate for the AlphaTauri seat with his experience. His performance against Vips this season would be crucial to determining whether he gets a shot at F1 in the coming years.

Jehan Daruvala

Daruvala is another experienced driver in the Junior team. The 22 year old Indian driver started karting in 2011 and won multiple championships before entering and competing in various Formula Renault 2.0 championships from 2015-2016 with mixed results, picking up 1 race win and 2nd place in the Toyota racing series. From 2017-2018, Daruvala competed in the FIA F3 championship with Carlin, but with moderate results as he finished sixth and 10th in the standings for each respective year and amassed a total of two wins and eight podiums in his two seasons. His breakthrough would come in 2019 after moving to Prema for the 2019 F3 season and had two wins and seven podiums en route to an impressive third place finish in the standings. Daruvala was then named to the Red Bull Junior Team in 2020 and competed with Carlin in the 2020 F2 season, achieving one win and two podiums, and finishing in 12th place overall. This year, he remains in F2 with Carlin and has former Red Bull prospect Dan Ticktum as his teammate. As of now, he is in ninth place with two podiums to his name. Daruvala is clearly an excellent driver but his F1 chances may remain slim unless he proves better to be Vips and Lawson. Even so, he may have to compete with Tsunoda or perhaps even Alex Albon for a seat. He is already 22 years of age and Helmut Marko seems to prefer younger drivers.

Jak Crawford

One of the youngest drivers in the Red Bull Junior Team, this 16 year old American driver first started on the karting scene and had a successful career before moving onto race cars in 2018 where he achieved second place in NACAM F4 and seventh place in the U.S. F2000 National Championship. He was then signed by the Red Bull Junior Team in 2020. Crawford then made the shift over to ADAC and Italian F4 in 2020 where he partnered fellow Red Bull Junior Jonny Edgar in Van Amersfoort Racing. He achieved five wins and 12 podiums, finishing second in ADAC F4, losing out to Edgar by just two points, and finishing 6th in Italian F4. This year, he is competing in FIA F3 with Hitech GP, sitting 20th in the standings, and Euroformula Open where he is having more success in fifth position. Jak Crawford is in the same boat as Jonny Edgar, currently too early to be considered for an F1 seat.  

Ayumu Iwasa

Ayumu Iwasa is a 19 year old Japanese driver who started his career in karts, winning several series. He made his single-seater debut in 2017 with a few guest appearances in Japanese F4 and Asian Formula Renault Championships. In 2019, Iwasa won the Suzuka Racing School’s Single Seater Series and was named as a Honda Junior Driver in 2020. Iwasa then headed over to French F4 where he had a career breakthrough and won the series in dominant fashion with nine wins and 15 podiums. This year, he was named as a Red Bull Junior and competed in FIA F3 alongside Jak Crawford in Hitech GP. He currently sits 11th in the championship with 39 points, having just won his first race in Budapest. Iwasa is also too early to be in contention for any F1 seat at the moment.

Jack Doohan

Jack Doohan hails from Australia and is the son of five-time Moto GP champion Mick Doohan. After his karting endeavours, Red Bull signed him to the junior team in September 2017. The 18 year old Australian made his racecar debut in 2018 in British F4 partnered with fellow Red Bull Junior Dennis Hauger. He came in 5th position and had a few appearances in Italian and ADAC F4 as well. 2019 was a mixed year for the Australian, coming 11th in Euroformula Open, but managing to take second place in both editions of the F3 Asian Championship he participated in. In 2020, he entered into FIA F3 with HWA Racelab but ended with mediocre results, coming in 26th. However, he has turned it around this year, competing with Trident, he sits second in the F3 championship with a win and two podiums. 

Dennis Hauger

Dennis Hauger is an 18 year old racer from Norway. Along with Jack Doohan, he was signed by the Red Bull Junior Team after his karting days in September 2017 and made his racecar debut in British F4 in 2018, coming 4th in the championship. In 2019, Hauger ventured into Italian and ADAC F4, having great results by coming in 1st and 2nd in the respective championships. He also made a few appearances in Euroformula Open and Formula Regional European Championship. Hauger made the jump to FIA F3 in 2020 with Hitech GP but ended the season with only one podium and 14 points, lying 17th in the standings. He has resumed his commanding form this year, joining Prema and leading the F3 championship in dominant fashion with three wins and seven podiums so far.

Doohan and Hauger have been closely intertwined in their junior careers so far. Both are excellent drivers, but it seems Hauger has the edge for now. While F1 might currently seem quite distant, whichever of them wins this season’s battle will likely decide the pecking order and priority for a future F1 seat.

The Red Bull Junior Team is one of the most if not the most successful young driver programmes in F1 today. The future looks bright for these young drivers and we wish them all the very best in their careers.

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An interview with Ethan Davis

Interviewed by Mikaeel Ali, edited by Janvi Unni 

Ethan Davis is a British racing driver currently racing in the F100UK Karting Series. Ethan has picked up numerous podiums and wins, including a win in the 24H of Buckmore Park. He is in contention for the F100UK Karting Title, and is mounting a great fight, despite having limited funds to compete.

Ethan kindly agreed to an interview with DIVEBOMB where we discussed his racing.

How are you feeling about your upcoming race?

I’m feeling confident coming off a good weekend at GYG, still in the championship hunt and ever improving my pace. I’m now at the sharp end in most races after starting from the back because of licence limitations. So Buckmore I’m hoping is positive. I have some potential investors coming so I’ll make sure to put on a good show.

How far do you believe you can take yourself in the championship?

Hopefully after Buckmore I will be in a much better position, I will be off the rookie plates and will be able to start from anywhere rather than just the back so my points in the heats will increase hopefully if I perform how I currently am. The goal is to win the championship in my rookie year. 

Do you have any idols, or people you look up to in racing?

For sure! I look up to people like Nicholas Hamilton, I’m autistic so he is a great example to overcoming issues in life.  I’ve got to say that my current team manager Kevin Ford is a person I look up to a lot. He teaches me loads. Also Sebastian Vettel, because I grew up watching him being absolutely fierce in wheel to wheel combat. 

What has been your favourite moment in racing so far?

My favourite moment in my career so far has to be the Silverstone 24 Hour, crossing the line with everyone on the pitwall, people in the stands. Although limited, it was great to see them out and about, and the marshals waving, and yeah just an amazing experience for my car racing debut. In karts it has to be either last time out at GYG. My pace was just incredible and I made real progress with everything, or the Buckmore 24 hour because it was just a great event where i met so many people, learnt so much and won my class, which is always nice.

You have mentioned previously that your funds to compete are limited, how has this affected your racing, and what do you think about the barrier between money and motorsport?

At the moment, I’ve got to be really careful with what I do because money is tight to the point where repairs could be impossible if I have a bad shunt. Trying to get the budget for the British Karting Championship for 2022 will be difficult but we believe it’s doable, while also hoping to do some more endurance in cars throughout the year. Currently the money barrier in motorsport is crippling young talent. It’s my belief that in years to come, it will create a substantial bottleneck and will be reverted to the days of old where only aristocrats and the like are able to make it in motorsport. It’s down to the FIA to reduce costs, they need to inject funds into the lower divisions and even go as far to create true spec series where they control all the cars etc., to keep costs to an absolute minimum. The fact is unless you are born wealthy or have access to the level of money required, no matter how good you are at racing you are going to struggle.  Finding a niche for sponsors is becoming increasingly hard because people are exhausting all options, which is only fair you can’t blame them.

It’s no surprise you are quite active on social media such as Discord and Instagram, how has this helped you to integrate into the community and become known to more people?

Oh massively, I don’t have a fan base per say, I  just have people who I can talk to within the community. It’s great to get to know people. I’m no different to yourself or anyone else. I enjoy motorsports as a spectator but I think some people also like hearing perspectives from someone within the racing side of things to get an idea of what may be going on behind the scenes. It’s a great way to get my name out there, but it has its pitfalls of course it does, there are people who send hate and threats etc., but I try to look past that. It’s the internet though, and I’ve come to expect it from some people.

What are your future ambitions in motorsport?

I’d love to pursue a career within Endurance, the Buckmore 24, Silverstone 24 and the virtual 24 hours of Daytona. All been amazing experiences, and I feel the strategy is so much more in depth. Not to mention my consistency seems to suit endurance over sprint racing, but currently I’ve got to do some sprint racing in karts to get the experience. I’m not blind to the fact that race craft takes years to perfect and won’t happen overnight.

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