4 NAMES TO LOOK OUT FOR IN 2018
THE VARIOUS FEEDER SERIES LEADING TO F1 ARE UNDOUBTEDLY GRUELLING. CAN THESE FOUR DRIVERS CONTINUE THEIR RISE THROUGH THE RANKS?
If Enaam Ahmed's 2017 season is anything to by, the 17-year-old has an incredibly bright future ahead of him. Becoming the BRDC British Formula 3 Champion is a massive achievement in itself, but it's the way in which he blew away the competition that has garnered people's attention. Ahmed started the season perfectly with three wins out of three at Oulton Park, he also claimed the fastest lap on each occasion meaning he took away a maximum score of 95 points from the weekend - the only time this has ever been achieved.
This was just the start, as he went on to break a number of records. His total of 654 points is the most achieved in the history of the series and the gap back to second-place James Pull was an almighty 164 points - another record. His final win came in the last race of the season which took his tally to 13, again this is significant as it broke the previous record of 12 which was held by a certain Ayrton Senna. His accomplishments have rightfully recognised and he's one of the finalists for the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award 2017.
Aside from his obvious driving talent, it's also clear from hearing him talk that he has two qualities that will serve him very well. Firstly, he's incredibly enthusiastic, a trait that's often overlooked but you can tell that his enthusiasm has led him to being very knowledgable for his age. Secondly, his maturity vastly exceeds his years and that will help him no end in series to come. The next destination for Ahmed appears to be the FIA F3 European Championship, the series dominated by compatriot Lando Norris this year.
Sacha Fenestraz, raised in Argentina, gained a lot of racing experience from a very young age. He started his career in 2006 when he was just 7 years old and would go on to compete in both Argentina and France as a youngster. In 2015, Fenestraz graduated to single-seaters and since then he has continually made his mark everywhere he has gone.
Starting off in the French F4 Championship, he finished in a highly respectable second place as a rookie. His points tally comfortably exceeded other talented rookies in the series such as Giuliano Alesi (son of Jean) and Ye Yifei. This would be his only year in French F4 as he moved up to Formula Renault 2.0. Again he performed admirably as a rookie, taking two wins in the season , one of which came at Monaco.
After such a successful year as a rookie, it's not a massive surprise that he's leading the series this year with just three races left to go. He's opened up a 52.5 point lead over Will Palmer in second, meaning it's very likely he will claim the title. As well as this, he has also made his debut in the F3 European Championship this season, with the hope that he can secure a seat to compete in the series full time in 2018. It's hard to see that not happening.
Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen, Daniel Riccardo, Carlos Sainz. One thing's for sure - Red Bull can pick out talented youngsters. As shown by the aforementioned names, the Red Bull Junior Team has been a huge success over the years as they are able to nurture and develop young drivers like no other team can. This is good news for Richard Verschoor, one of the drivers currently on the programme.
Verschoor begun karting in 2011 and won plenty of events in his home country of the Netherlands. From there, he started competing in events right across Europe, one of his notable wins was the German Karting Championship in 2015. In 2016, Verschoor made the jump to single-seaters and just a short while after this he became involved with Red Bull.
The 2016 season was unbelievably successful for Verschoor. He mainly competed in two series: the SMP F4 Championship and the F4 Spanish Championship. In the SMP F4 Championship, he won 11 of 20 races. Incredibly, that was the weaker of the two. In the Spanish Championship, he was able to win 17 of the 20 races and was on the podium in all but one race.
Building on this season was always going to be tough, but Verschoor has had a solid rookie year in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 as well as finishing third in the Toyota Racing Series, missing out on the title by just 12 points.
The youngest driver on this list at just 16 years of age. Lundgaard started karting professionally in 2012 and picked up a number of major titles across Europe before making his single-seater debut in 2017.
There are still 3 races to go in the SMP F4 Championship, yet he's already claimed enough points to win the championship. This is largely thanks to his recent form where in a stretch of 9 races, he achieved 7 wins. He's also performing very well in the F4 Spanish Championship. Of the 11 races that have taken place so far, Lundgaard has won 4, finished on the podium a further 5 times and finished no worse than 5th all year. This level of consistency bodes well for the future.
In March, he was signed to the Renault Sport Academy, joining the likes of Max Fewtrell and Jack Aitken. Being a part of this means he's in a good position to get seats in bigger championships as he develops as a driver