THE SEARCH FOR THE NEXT LEWIS HAMILTON
It is a once in a lifetime opportunity, a chance for a teenager to set out on the path to join Britain’s illustrious list of ten Formula One world champions. And from the comfort of their own homes.
The most innovative and ambitious attempt to discover the next Lewis – or Louise – Hamilton is under way, a £300,000 project that will train and then launch two youngsters from the world of computer gaming onto the track. Free to enter and free to play, the ROKiT – Racing Star F4 Esports Programme is open for UK-resident, 14- and 15-year-olds with a remarkable top prize on offer – a chance to drive in the 2023 ROKiT Formula 4 British Championship.
Motor racing is probably the most expensive sport in the world, demanding tens of thousands of pounds even at the level of junior karting. But single-seater racing like F4, which brought through talents like Hamilton, Jenson Button, David Coulthard and McLaren’s current star, Lando Norris, can be phenomenally expensive, reaching six-figure sums to finance a season of racing.
Which is where the ROKiT programme steps in to finance the fledgling careers of the best two gamers – one boy and one girl – in the country. Somewhere in a house in Britain, in front of a laptop in the kitchen or a bedroom, is a talent that might rival that of Hamilton, the nation’s seven-times world champion. All would-be stars of the future need to do is to enter the competition at www.racingstar.com and go racing.
Racing Stars is:
- Open to 14- and 15-year-olds in the UK
- A series of five virtual races on famous circuits, such as Silverstone, staged in the first half of 2022
- 16 of the fastest Esport drivers will compete in the Grand Final in May on professional simulators at the University of Bolton’s National Centre for Motorsport Engineering Auditorium
- The top two Esport drivers, one boy and one girl, will be crowned ROKiT Racing Stars 2022
- The two winners will then undergo extensive physical training and formal studies under the guidance of a Motorsport UK personal tutor in conjunction with on-track driver training, overseen by the Hitech GP Academy, aimed at qualifying for an FIACompetition Licence to driver for the ROKiT Formula 4 team in 2023.
Britain is the most prolific provider of driving talent, with Formula One world champions from Mike Hawthorn in 1958 through to Jim Clark, John Surtees and Graham Hill in the 1960s, followed by Sir Jackie Stewart and James Hunt, Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill, Jenson Button and Hamilton.
But lack of finance chokes many great talents at the start because of the lack of finance, a problem that Bob Fernley, the Stockport-born former deputy principal of the Force India F1 team, wanted to solve by devising the Racing Stars programme with the backing of the ROKiT Group of companies.
“Over many years, I have seen fledgling careers come to grief because youngsters have talent, but not the huge amounts of money needed to go racing,” Fernley says. “Sums running to six figures are out of reach unless sponsors come forward. We are taking on that financial hit. We know there is talent out there waiting to be discovered and youngsters have the chance to get online and get racing to win this phenomenal prize of the opportunity to race for real in the F4 series that has bred many stars over the years.”
Jonathan Kendrick, founder of Wolverhampton-based ROKiT, the title sponsor for the new F4 programme and Racing Stars, adds: “We all know how expensive real-world motor sport is and it is so often a lack of funding that presents the biggest barrier for many young talents to progress in the sport. Our ROKiT Racing Star Programme is designed to give opportunities to all aspiring racing drivers, irrespective of money, gender, ethnicity or background, to realise their dreams, starting with the opportunity to be awarded fully funded seats in the ROKiT Formula 4 Team. It all starts here, so let the racing begin.”