New Racing Star scheme to offer two funded drives in British F4

FIA Single-Seater Commission president and former Formula 1 team boss Bob Fernley has launched a new initiative that will award two teenagers fully-funded drives in British F4 in 2023.

New Racing Star scheme to offer two funded drives in British F4

The Racing Star scheme, which is being funded by new F4 title sponsor ROKiT, was unveiled as part of British F4's formal 2022 season launch on Friday.

The championship is undergoing a raft of changes for next year following British motorsport governing body Motorsport UK taking over from long-time promoter RacingLine as organiser and the introduction of the new second-generation FIA F4 car.

As well as more details about the series being revealed, the Racing Star scheme was also announced as part of the launch.

The brainchild of long-time Force India deputy team principal Fernley, it is open to 14 and 15 year-olds, who will take part in a number of sim racing qualifiers.

A five-round sim racing series will then take place and the top 16 boys and top 16 girls will compete in a final next spring at the University of Bolton's National Centre for Motorsport Engineering - an institution Fernley has close links with as its students have run his 1981 Ensign 180B in Historic F1.

From the finalists, one male and one female driver will be selected to win the prize and will receive six months of expert training and support from the Motorsport UK Academy before embarking on a fully-funded season in British F4 in 2023.

There is no requirement for entrants to have any previous racing experience.

“Talent detection programmes are commonplace in sport, generally, but in motorsport, this really is a ground-breaking opportunity for two stars of the future to make an impact in a virtual environment, then have the framework and support to translate their abilities into real-world competition alongside a renowned resource such as the Motorsport UK Academy," said Fernley.

Alongside the Racing Star launch, further plans were revealed for Motorsport UK's first season in charge of British F4.

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It had already been announced the series would switch to a Tatuus-Abarth chassis/engine combination from the previous Mygale-Ford, which had been used since the inaugural season in 2015, and the new car was seen in the UK for the first time at Motorsport UK's Bicester base.

Among the other changes is F1 tyre supplier Pirelli taking over from Hankook in providing the category's rubber.

Plans for Neil Brown Engineering to develop the Abarth motor into a bespoke unit for the British championship have also been confirmed, with the intention of ensuring greater parity between engines.

A link-up with the McLaren F1 team was also unveiled with the F4 champion getting the chance to be embedded with the squad.

"McLaren Racing will be offering the chance for the champion of F4 to embed themselves in the race team at the British Grand Prix with the engineers and drivers and fully understand what it takes to operate at the top level of motorsport," said McLaren engineer Amelia Lewis.

Motorsport UK CEO Hugh Chambers said the launch was "a really significant moment" and added there would be further announcements and new partnerships revealed in the coming weeks.

“Our vision has always been to grow and develop the series into a global leader, and to kick things off with partnerships alongside the likes of ROKiT, McLaren and Pirelli really gives us a solid grounding on which to build and unveil further incentives in the near future," he said.

"It also highlights how seriously British F4 is regarded at the highest echelons of the sport."

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