Path to Formula One: FIA Formula 4
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FIA Formula 4 is an open-wheel racing car series for junior drivers climbing the Formula One ladder. Unlike the FIA European Formula 3 Championship and FIA Formula 2 Championship, Formula 4 does not have an official global championship; instead, individual nations or regions can host their own Formula 4 competitions in compliance with the FIA’s regulations.
Formula 4 was created as part of the FIA Global Pathway to capture drivers and manufacturers whose interests in Formula 3 were declining because of climbing costs and because of the rising popularity of alternate competitions such as the new GP3 Series.
There are currently more than a dozen Formula 4 championships held across the world, including in Australia, Britain, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, and the United States.
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The weekend format for a Formula 4 race can differ based on where it is hosted as the rules have some room as to how they can be scheduled. As a general rule, practice sessions take place on Friday, following by a qualifying session late on Friday or early on Saturday, with some exceptions. Some championships have three weekend races and others just two. For those that have only two, the grid order is usually determined by the two top qualifying times. For those that have three races, the results of the first race will usually be used to determine the grid, sometimes in reverse order.
Regardless of region or country, every chassis manufacturer must abide by the FIA’s Formula 4 specifications with a maximum cost of €33,000. Currently there are four manufacturers: Crawford, Dome, Mygale, and Tatuus.
All engines must last at least 10,000 km and cost no more than €9,500. They can be either naturally aspirated or turbocharged but use only four cylinders, with an output limited to 160 bhp. Currently, Abarth and Ford use turbocharged engines while GEELY, Honda, and TOM’S use naturally-aspirated engines.
FIA Formula 4 has existed only since 2014 but already a former F4 driver has successfully moved on to Formula One: Lance Stroll won the 2014 Italian F4 Championship then moved on to Formula 3, coming in 5th in 2015 and winning the series in 2016 before progressing to Formula One for 2017.
Another notable driver is Lando Norris, who won the British F4 Championship in 2015. He is currently leading the FIA European Formula 3 Championship and recently partook in a Formula One in-season test in Hungary as part of McLaren’s young driver program.
Kurt Verlin was born in France and lives in the United States. Throughout his life he was always told French was the language of romance, but it was English he fell in love with. He likes cats, music, cars, 30 Rock, Formula 1, and pretending to be a race car driver in simulators; but most of all, he just likes to write about it all. See more articles by Kurt.