TO THE MAX How Carlin racer took Bri­tish F4 crown. By Stephen Lick­o­r­ish

TAK­ING CON­SIS­TENCY

Motor Sport News - - Interview: Max Fewtrell -

M

ax seems to be the name to have if you’re an as­pir­ing sin­gle­seater star at the minute. While Max Ver­stap­pen has been steal­ing the head­lines in For­mula 1, Max Fewtrell has been rack­ing up the podi­ums in Bri­tish F4 be­fore tak­ing the ti­tle in Oc­to­ber.

But the two driv­ers share much more than just a name. Both have been de­fy­ing their lack of ex­pe­ri­ence this year to take strong re­sults. Both have been con­sis­tently achiev­ing top six fin­ishes, rarely mak­ing mis­takes. And both have been very im­pres­sive in­deed.

Those key char­ac­ter­is­tics have been cru­cial to Fewtrell’s suc­cess. Any driver who signs for the mighty Carlin team in this coun­try is sure to be a ti­tle con­tender, but Fewtrell ar­rived in F4 very green. He had plenty of kart­ing ex­pe­ri­ence – both in Europe and in Asia, where he started his ca­reer – but had only a sea­son of the short In­dian-based MRF Chal­lenge of sin­gle­seater rac­ing un­der his belt. His only other rac­ing ex­pe­ri­ence was a cou­ple of out­ings in a Pro­ton Sa­tria in the Pre-2005 Pro­duc­tion Tour­ing Car series last year, so he could get sig­na­tures on his li­cence.

That was in stark con­trast to some of his fel­low rac­ers, such as Sen­nan Field­ing, who first switched to the dis­ci­pline in 2013.

“Rac­ing some­one like Sen­nan, who has been rac­ing in the cat­e­gory for years, puts you on the back foot – you’ve got to be on it [to beat him],” says Fewtrell. “But from win­ter test­ing, the ti­tle was a re­al­is­tic tar­get.”

Af­ter a strong pre-sea­son test­ing pro­gramme, the 17-year-old backed that up with a podium in his very first race.

“Be­ing a rookie he started the sea­son re­ally strong as he was sec­ond in the first race and was just con­sis­tent all year,” says Carlin team man­ager Martin Knap­man.

That first podium set the tone for Fewtrell’s sea­son as he bagged 15 more ( see side­bar) to end the year with com­fort­ably the most of any­one in the cat­e­gory. The next best were Field­ing and Luis Leeds, both on 11.

It wasn’t long be­fore he started win­ning ei­ther with Fewtrell’s first tri­umph com­ing at the sec­ond round at Don­ing­ton Park.

“That def­i­nitely helped my con­fi­dence and then I just got more and more con­fi­dent,” he says.

That cer­tainly showed as the good re­sults kept com­ing, al­though his next vic­tory wasn’t un­til Rock­ing­ham in Au­gust.

While his many ri­vals (10 dif­fer­ent driv­ers won races) en­dured con­trast­ing for­tunes from one week­end to the next, Fewtrell was able to con­sis­tently pick up the top six fin­ishes, leav­ing him in ti­tle con­tention head­ing into the Brands Hatch sea­son fi­nale.

He took podi­ums in the first two races but it was in race three that he re­ally shone. Fewtrell pulled away from pole and didn’t let the pres­sure of win­ning the ti­tle get to him as he fi­nally claimed the cham­pi­onship by seven points.

“The key for me was the con­sis­tency – there’s 30 races and 30 op­por­tu­ni­ties to score points and max­imise my points haul be­cause of how close it was,” he says.

“It’s a nice thing to have [most podi­ums]. You want to win the most races as a rac­ing driver but you’ve got to take what you’ve been given.”

Knap­man was quick to point out how im­pres­sive Fewtrell’s con­sis­tency was: “He just kept his head to­gether and some­times other peo­ple did not – and he kept get­ting the re­sults. He doesn’t re­ally have any weak­nesses and is a well-rounded char­ac­ter – any­one who can come into a cham­pi­onship as a rookie and can beat more ex­pe­ri­enced peo­ple has done a pretty good job.”

It wasn’t all plain sail­ing for Fewtrell though. His Thrux­ton week­end was com­pro­mised by a clash with team-mate James Pull in the first race at Club cor­ner, which sent Fewtrell into a roll. But he bounced back quickly, tak­ing a podium in the fi­nal race of the week­end.

That men­tal­ity was cru­cial to him tak­ing the ti­tle and he was de­lighted to end the year with a win.

“It was a re­ally nice feel­ing but I’m back to work­ing hard for the next ti­tle,” Fewtrell ex­plains. “We’re look­ing at For­mula Re­nault Eurocup for next year. It’s go­ing to be a big chal­lenge but there’s a lot of ben­e­fits from do­ing it.”

He re­cently took part in the series’ rookie test and ended up seventh of 25 driv­ers.

“It was re­ally good, Sen­nan and James were there as well and I was quicker than both of them, which was great,” he adds.

As he pro­gresses up the motorsport lad­der, if he con­tin­ues to dis­play speed and con­sis­tency like this sea­son, Fewtrell might just find him­self rac­ing against that other Max in a few years to come. ■

Fewtrell took the most F4 podi­ums

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