MSA to allow 15-year-olds in UK single-seaters from 2015
|By Scott Mitchell||Wednesday, August 13th 2014, 08:53 GMT|
The age limit for drivers to compete in UK single-seater championships will be lowered to 15 from next season, though only FIA Formula 4 is likely to be eligible.
British motorsport's governing body the Motor Sports Association will allow 15-year-olds with an International Grade C kart licence to apply for a car licence to race in certain slicks-and-wings categories.
Eligible championships will have to apply to the MSA to be given permission to accept entries from 15-year-olds. The cars used must comply with current FIA F3 (Article 275) and F4 (Article 274) crash-test and safety requirements, and maintain a power-to-weight ratio of 1bhp/3kg.
No confirmation has been issued on eligible series but it is believed that British Formula Ford, which will morph into FIA F4 in the UK next season, is the only series for which the new rule will apply.
The spaceframe MSV F4-013 used in BRDC Formula 4 is built to FIA Article 277 safety standards and although the Tatuus-built FR.20/13 that is set to be introduced to the UK next season is built to F3 standards, it is too powerful.
Drivers as young as 14 can currently compete in specific UK formulas such as Ginetta or Fiesta Juniors, while in previous years dispensation had been given to series such as InterSteps - which allowed 15-year-olds to enter if they turned 16 during the course of the season - and Formula BMW.
Competitors will not be able to use the licence in other categories and will have to complete the extended ARDS course for junior car racing to attain it.
Scott Mitchell, Assistant Editor - (@scottmitchell89)
That Formula Renault is likely to miss out on the younger crop of driver is not really an issue. The two-litre carbon-monocoque Tatuus is too powerful for the new batch of racer and in all likelihood it would probably be too big a step for most.
What this potentially hits hardest is BRDC Formula 4. There's no guarantee the series will want (or need) 15-year-olds - not having them hasn't stopped the championship attracting grids of more than 20 cars on a regular basis while other series struggle in the low teens.
But as BRDC F4 is pitched as an entry-level series, it does stand to lose out in some respect if another championship can be entered at an earlier age.
Series boss Jonathan Palmer said recently that he had "no doubt our championship will continue to be by far the most successful junior single-seater series in the UK next year, whatever new championships begin."
He cited the "market and engineering expertise" of MSV as reason for his confidence, and it seems those are two qualities BRDC F4 will need to extract the maximum from.
It must continue its strong start, or risk being bypassed by drivers in favour of one or two seasons in FIA F4 before moving on to either Formula Renault UK or Europe.