The ROKiT F4 British Championship certified by FIA can trace its roots through various guises to the creation of Formula Ford back in the late 1960s at Brands Hatch, and over the following four decades propelled a whole roster of motorsport stars, such as Ayrton Senna, Eddie Irvine, and Jenson Button to the sport’s highest echelons.
In 2014, the decision was taken to replace the Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain with MSA Formula, and cars conforming to the FIA’s new global Formula 4 regulations, but the same spirit of providing a race-proven, effective entry point to the FIA Single Seater Pathway remains.
The success of the system has since been illustrated by it’s very first champion; Lando Norris. Then just 15 years of age, driving for Carlin, the Brit stormed to the series’ inaugural title, collecting eight victories and a further seven podium finishes to beat nearest rival Ricky Collard to the crown by 42 points.
2015 would prove to be quite the star-studded line-up in years to follow, with Norris and Collard joined by the likes of IndyCar star Colton Herta, Formula E racer Dan Ticktum, British GT champion Sandy Mitchell and more for their first steps in single seaters.
Max Fewtrell made it ‘two for two’ for Trevor Carlin’s outfit the following year, although with six drivers heading to the Brands Hatch finale in mathematical contention, it proved to be a much closer-run affair. Although only thrice a race winner, Fewtrell’s consistency – including 16 podiums from 30 starts – was enough to see him crowned by a seven-point margin over JHR’s Sennan Fielding.
Eight wins from the opening 11 rounds set Jamie Caroline on his way to the title in 2017, a year also notable for the emergence of , Ayrton Simmons, Jonathan Hoggard, and now-FIA Formula 1 drivers champion Oscar Piastri and Logan Sargeant.
Single seater rookie Kiern Jewiss delivered Double R Racing their first title in Britain’s FIA Formula 4 series in 2018, winning out in an intense battle with JHR’s Ayrton Simmons. There were fireworks on-track between the sparring Red Bull juniors Dennis Hauger and Jack Doohan; whilst Hauger finished the season ahead overall, Doohan walked away with the Rookie honours, both now competing in FIA Formula 2.
Single seater rookie Kiern Jewiss delivered Double R Racing their first title in Britain’s FIA Formula 4 series in 2018, winning out in an intense battle with JHR’s Ayrton Simmons. There were fireworks on-track between the sparring Red Bull juniors Dennis Hauger and Jack Doohan; whilst Hauger finished the season ahead overall, Doohan walked away with the Rookie honours.
In 2019, the ‘Boy from Barbados’, Zane Maloney, kicked off his journey through the motorsport ranks by taking the title at the first attempt. Maloney was often peerless throughout the first half of the campaign, but a fightback from Double R’s Sebastian Alvarez after the summer break – plus a dramatic collision at Luffield – ensured both title contenders would head to Brands Hatch level on points to decide the title. They claimed a victory apiece on Saturday to set up a thrilling one-race showdown for the crown and victory for Maloney with Alvarez on the sidelines due to an overheating engine was enough to send the title overseas for the first time. Maloney now competes alongside Hauger and Doohan in F2.
2020 was an exceptional year for many reasons, but the thrilling on-track action in ROKiT British F4 provided welcome familiarity in an unsettling global pandemic. Having won two races in 2019, Luke Browning switched teams to Fortec Motorsport and put together a fully-fledged title challenge; in the blue corner was Carlin’s latest protégé, Zak O’Sullivan.
Browning’s experience paid dividends early on as the Brit stole a march on the field, but with four events to go O’Sullivan hit his stride, scoring five wins and podium finishes in all bar two of the final 11 races to take the title down to the wire.
Even by the championship’s lofty standards, the battle was decided in Browning’s favour by the most dramatic of circumstances. Both title contenders started together up front and ran wide on oil at Clearways on the opening lap; Browning spun to the very back, with O’Sullivan able to skate through the gravel and re-join fourth.
From there, he worked his way back up to the race lead and, with Browning only recovering as far as tenth, the pendulum looked to have swung decisively towards O’Sullivan. Enter the weather gods.
Torrential rain with the entire field on slick tyres just before half-distance forced a red flag stoppage in accordance with the regulations. Once safely back in pit lane, the dwindling light and TV pressures ensured there would be no opportunity to restart the race. Half points were awarded, meaning O’Sullivan’s victory on track would not be enough to overturn Browning’s advantage. The title went to Fortec.
Such was the strength in depth of the competition in 2021, it was impossible to get a true bearing on the title protagonists until well into the summer months.
James Hedley looked to be the ‘man to beat’ after a hat-trick of podiums, including two wins, at the Thruxton season opener, but was immediately pegged back by rookie Matthew Rees (JHR) at the next event at Snetterton. Matias Zagazeta then claimed a maiden win at Brands Hatch to propel himself into the reckoning, with Joel Granfors and McKenzy Cresswell in close company behind.
Gradually, a three-horse race emerged between Rees, Zagazeta and Cresswell. Zagazeta, coached by 2015 runner-up Collard, seemed to grow in confidence round-by-round, and further victories at Knockhill and Silverstone, plus five runner-up finishes, quickly marked him out as the only driver capable of stopping Rees’ run to the title.
For the seventh season in succession, Brands Hatch would be the stage for the title decider. Ultimately, a hat-trick of top-five finishes proved enough for Rees to win through, although second spot for Zagazeta in the finale was enough to stave off Cresswell and keep the vice-champion honours overall.
In 2022, it was all change in ROKiT British F4, with the introduction of the new Tatuus T-421 second-generation F4 car, complete with a Halo-style safety device, Abarth engine and Pirelli control tyres. Seven of Europe’s leading single seater teams contested the ten-event, 30-race calendar, with Chris Dittmann Racing, Hitech GP and Virtuosi Racing joining existing entries Argenti, Carlin, Fortec and JHR. Ireland’s Alex Dunne prevailed, driving for Hitech GP while Carlin secured the Teams’ Championship and Ugo Ugochukwu claimed the Rookie title.
The 2023 series kicks off at Donington Park, Leicestershire on 22-23 April as part of the British Touring Car Championship support package, with live coverage on ITV4 in the UK.