STEPHEN LICK­O­R­ISH “Small F4 teams still fight with big­ger ri­vals”

NA­TIONAL RAC­ING RE­PORTER

Motor Sport News - - Racing News -

In less than two years Bri­tish F4 has gone from hav­ing over 50 cash de­posits on cars to just 17 on the grid.

When it was an­nounced at the end of 2014 the FIA F4 con­cept would be com­ing to the UK, teams were queu­ing up to take part. Twelve squads re­ceived cars but at Croft this week­end there will be just six on the grid, with Jamun the lat­est to drop out. So why have the num­bers dropped?

The most com­monly heard an­swer is Car­lin, Ar­den and Fortec.

These in­ter­na­tional sin­gle-seater out­fits have en­tered the cat­e­gory and won the vast ma­jor­ity of races over the past year-and-a-half. It’s only nat­u­ral the best up-and-com­ing driv­ers want to com­pete for them. They of­fer far more op­por­tu­ni­ties for ca­reer pro­gres­sion and have all the ex­pe­ri­ence of work­ing with some top driv­ers over the last few decades.

But de­spite the claimed su­pe­ri­or­ity of these teams, they are per­haps not as dom­i­nant as you would ex­pect.

Given the bud­get and re­sources they have avail­able and that at Car­lin alone there are four driv­ers ca­pa­ble of win­ning ev­ery race, the fact re­mains the smaller JHR De­vel­op­ments and Jamun teams have filled nine of the pos­si­ble 36 podium places this year, in­clud­ing two vic­to­ries for JHR’S Sen­nan Field­ing.

So for all the al­leged dom­i­nance from the large teams, a quar­ter of the podi­ums haven’t gone to their driv­ers. And that’s the mes­sage that needs to be made loud and clear. The small teams can still com­pete with the big three.

Un­less as­pir­ing driv­ers re­alise this, en­try num­bers will con­tinue to fall leav­ing just the big teams – a sce­nario that has hap­pened plenty of times be­fore (Bri­tish F3 springs to mind).

At the mo­ment, teams are re­stricted to run­ning four cars each so such a sit­u­a­tion would leave just a dozen cars on the grid.

Clearly, it’s a dif­fi­cult bal­anc­ing act for or­gan­is­ers. Se­ries chief Sam Roach is open about want­ing Bri­tish F4 to at­tract the best driv­ers and be the tough­est F4 cat­e­gory to win.

If too many re­stric­tions or bud­get caps are in­tro­duced, the large teams – and best driv­ers – will go else­where. But it’s tough to com­bine that com­pet­i­tive de­sire with a large en­try and it’s un­likely num­bers will bal­loon any time soon.

How­ever, there are green shoots on the hori­zon. Scorpio Mo­tor­sport is set to en­ter later this year and one or two of the ex-for­mula Ford teams could join them. In or­der to se­cure the cat­e­gory’s longterm fu­ture it’s vi­tal that they do.

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