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F1 stars hail BRDC F4 Championship

Monday, April 29 2013

F1 drivers past and present were at Silverstone last weekend to witness the birth of the BRDC Formula 4 Championship. Red Bull F1 star Mark Webber, BRDC President and ex-Grand Prix driver Derek Warwick and Martin Donnelly, Warwick’s team mate at Lotus, all saw F4 in action on the Grand Prix circuit.

Webber, twice a winner of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, was present at the Northamptonshire circuit to watch the racing and hand out the awards on the podium for the final race of the weekend, and was full of praise for the new series.

Speaking to Autosport he said; “It looks a good little racing car, that moves around a bit, with a nice little paddleshift. It’s always tricky with so many categories but you’ve got to look at costs these days.

“You’ve got to have reliable cars at this level because it’s about the youngsters and Ralph Firman is a proven quantity. It’s really important for drivers to get a chance in cars, not just karts and I think F4 will go from strength to strength.”

BRDC President Derek Warwick, who has played a key role in the creation and evolution of F4 alongside Series Director Jonathan Palmer, was on hand to make the presentations on the podium for race two.

“It’s great that Jonathan Palmer has gone through with this concept and we have worked as closely as we can with him. The BRDC (British Racing Drivers’ Club) and I are firmly behind it.

“I love nurturing our home grown talent. I’ve been up and down the paddock trying to see all the drivers and looking at the teams, and I’m excited. I’ve spoken to some drivers where this is their first taste of circuit racing, and they said that without Formula 4 they’d have stayed in karting. So we could have lost talent that we need to nurture the next Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. They are the people we’re trying to find, and it’s important to keep these great British drivers coming through.

“We think this [BRDC F4] is the right thing to do, and from the racing this weekend I think we’ve got it about right!”

Martin Donnelly, who raced with Lotus in F1 in 1990 was also present at Silverstone and was impressed with what he saw.

“Having been at Silverstone and seeing the new BRDC F4 races in person, I was rather envious of the opportunity the drivers have been presented with. Brand new state of the art single seater race cars with paddle shift sequential gearboxes, a big grid of cars run by privateers and professional teams, and competing on our national Grand Prix circuit. There aren't many other formulas worldwide where these young drivers can get this level of promotion and great organisation. I just wish I had the same sort of opportunity which has been presented to these young drivers when I first started out in motor racing.”

Webber concluded: “I never had the joy at that age to drive on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit, so the drivers in BRDC F4 are very, very fortunate!”

The next round of the BRDC F4 Championship takes place on 18-19 May on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit, supporting the prestigious DTM German Touring Car series.

Highlights from Silverstone will be broadcast on ITV4 at 6pm on Sunday evening (5 May).