Press Release: Renault F4SEA Engine Links Asian Drivers to F1
26 April 2016, Kuala Lumpur: Drivers in the new Formula 4 South East Asia championship (F4SEA) will be the only FIA F4 drivers linked to Formula 1 through the F4SEA’s unique use of the Renault Sport F4R race engine. Two F4SEA driver ambassadors were guests of the Renault Sport F1 team at a recent F1 Grand Prix and learned how the Renault Sport Academy invests in the development of talented young racers.Fred Vasseur, Racing Director of Renault Sport Racing recently commented: “The Renault Sport Academy is a highly beneficial tool for young drivers. Firstly, we thoroughly evaluate them to give the right steer through the vast motorsport landscape. Then, they are exposed to the pinnacle of technology through the F1 team and what is required to get there. In short, we aim to turn each Academy driver into an elite athlete, capable of performing to their absolute best.”
Malaysian Adam Khalid and New Zealander Maori Faine Kahia were recently given the opportunity to spend some time with Renault Sport’s F1 drivers. Both were given an insight into what goes on behind the scenes in the pit garage during a Formula 1 weekend and the experience of listening to the Renault Formula 1 drivers communicating with their engineers.Renault’s involvement in F4SEA gives drivers a lot of confidence, Adam Khalid explained:“It’s a real big thing not just for Asia but for the whole F4, the fact that we already have links to the Renault F1 team in the early stages. Faine Kahia agreed: “It’s really comforting to know that Renault is taking the F4SEA seriously. There’s not many pathways in the motorsport world which don’t just require a big pocket! It’s awesome for Renault to have that development opportunity and I hope I’ll be part of it.”
F4SEA, powered by the FIA-homologated Renault F4R engine, will kick off the 30-race programme on 6 August at Sepang and will support V8 Supercars, Asian LeMans, WTCC, Lamborghini Trofeo and Audi R8 with six events on four circuits in three countries.Renault Sport Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul says: “F4 is a fantastic platform in Asia to find a young and emerging star in the area to bring to F1 one day.“ To that end, Groupe Renault recently confirmed at the Chinese F1 GP the addition of a Chinese driver to the Renault Sport Academy.F4SEA Promoter Peter Thompson says: “Renault Sport has stated our drivers are part of their portfolio considered for the Renault Sport Academy. I believe our F4SEA drivers will impress everyone and a place at the Renault Sport Academy is their ultimate goal. This is a wonderful and unique opportunity for any driver.”
Formula 4 SEA BackgroundF4SEA Organiser the AAM Chairman HH Tungku Datuk Mudzaffar comments: “We have 60 years of heritage in the sport and South East Asia does not want to be left behind. The FIA F4SEA will start next August and we want to go full steam and hopefully one of the racers will make it to Formula 1. The AAM is the lead ASN and we want to make F4SEA an international success story to highlight alternative motorsport career opportunities in Asia. Firhat Mokhzani F4SEA Promoter (Triple A) explains: “Formula 4 SEA is the only FIA-certified championship in South East Asia in which the top 7 drivers will earn super licence points. The FIA have simplified the decision-making for race families and F4SEA is the next step after karting, for the same cost. The Triple A Group will extend our AsiaCup Series ‘one’ concept to F4SEA and also we hope to F3 as part of the Asian motorsport ecosystem expansion.” Peter Thompson, F4SEA Promoter (Triple A) adds: “Our AsiaCup Series reduced the financial barriers to transition to formula racing. Our winning heritage, combined with the FIA’s F4 global format, on Asia’s modern and safe circuit infrastructure provides all the ingredients for the success of the only world-class driver development championship in South East Asia.For a quarter of a century MERITUS has been developing its motorsport sponsor activation and race engineering services, successfully showcasing Fortune 500 sponsors and their products to millions of motorsport fans throughout Asia Pacific and the Middle East. With stakeholders in Asia and the Middle East we are a locally global race organization.A budget of €100,000 for 30 races makes F4SEA the most cost-effective F4 championship in the world, while our unique open data rule optimizes success and ensures talent wins. Our association with Renault Sport Racing means our young drivers will be ‘under the radar’ of Renault Sport Academy and we hope that our champions will be rewarded following an end of season Formula Renault 2.0 test.”
2016 Formula 4 SEA Calendar* – Certified by the FIA
6 events, 4 tracks, 3 countries, 30 rounds!
F4SEA Promoters Background (Asian Autosport Action [Triple A] Group)
Peter Thompson has been involved in motorsport for the last 35 years. With his brothers he started Ireland’s automotive industry in 1983 and together with Frank Costin (brother of Mike Costin from Cosworth) they designed and raced Ireland’s first GT sportscar. The TMC Costin company was subsequently sold to Don Panoz in 1988 with the chassis design forming the basis of the Panoz Roadster and the now-famous Panoz automotive company in the USA. Thompson introduced Panoz to Adrien Reynard in 1995, leading to the first Panoz le Mans participation – the Panoz-designed single-seater ‘Champcar’ racecars (later rebranded ‘Indycars’) went on to win the Indy 500 four times.
Following successful participation in European championships including Formula Vauxhall, Formula Opel Lotus, Formula 3 and Formula 3000 Thompson was invited by his Marlboro sponsor to establish the Marlboro-Castrol Meritus Formula Asia 2000 team in 1996. Their first champion Narain Karthikeyan went on to race with the Jordan F1 team ten years later, as did Takuma Sato who joined the Honda F1 team.
In partnership with Firhat Mokhzani over the past two decades in Asia, Meritus.GP has won 36 Asian FIA championships and helped many more drivers on their way to the top of the sport. Our first of seven Formula BMW champions Ho Pin Tung tested the BMW F1 car in 2003 whilst 2007 Formula BMW champion Malaysian Jazeman Jaafar finished second in the 2012 British F3 Championship and went on to test the Petronas Mercedes F1 car alongside Michael Schumacher.
Rio Haryanto was our Formula BMW Asia Pacific champion in 2009, followed by winning in GP3 and GP2 in Europe. Rio is now in his inaugural season as a full time F1 driver with the Manor F1 team and is the worldwide ambassador for F4SEA.
2015 24-Hours le Mans winner Earl Bamber was our Formula BMW 2006 champion (Daniel Ricciardo was 2nd) and took the vice championship in 2008 FV6 Asia, powered by Renault, while his team mate James Grunwell was the champion. Earl won a podium with Meritus GP2 Asia (powered by Renault) in 2009.
In 2010 Luca Filippi won the GP2 support race at the Bahrain F1GP helping the Meritus GP2 team to win the 2010 GP2 Asia vice championship. Our GP2 Asia drivers included Hiroki Yoshimoto, Alexander Rossi, Marco Bonanomi and Alvaro Parente.
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