As most fans prepare for the final Malaysian Grand Prix, this weekend also marks the first round of the Formula 4 South East Asia Championship. With the Sepang International Circuit dropping off the F1 calendar, this might also be a final opportunity for the youngsters to prove their talent in front of motorsports pinnacle.
After a dramatic final round to the 2015-16 F4 SEA season in which Presley Martono beat Faine Kahia by two points (after dropped scores) to claim the maiden title, the next generation are looking to follow in the Indonesians footsteps.
Martono has since gone on to race in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 as the series welcomes 13 drivers for the opening round, including British F4 regular Daniel Cao.
The second season will see one less round, as the second of the original three trips to Sepang has been removed, but the series will still travel to the Clark International Speedway in the Philippines before a trip to Indonesia’s Sentul International Circuit.
After the new year, it will once again visit Chang International Circuit in Thailand before finishing the season at Sepang in February. Though questions remain over the series with F1 pulling out of the region.
The series will continue to have six races at every round, though will also introduce an ‘F4 National Championship’ for each round. The winner of each round will get one point with second place earning two and so on. The champion will be the driver with the lowest score.
The only other South East Asian circuit that F1 will visit now is Singapore, but with Meritus.GP, the organisers, being of Malaysian ownership, it will seem unlikely that the series will follow F1 to the venue any time soon.
“We are thrilled the Malaysian Grand Prix will now host the F4 SEA Championship’s first event of the 2017-18 season,” said F1’s motorsport managing director Ross Brawn.
“It is important a Formula 1 Grand Prix can offer not only a great show in terms of racing but also can attract the interest of the younger generations and make them closer to motor sport grass roots.
“The presence of F4 SEA at the Formula 1 event will have a double benefit: for these young drivers who will have the chance to live an event side-by-side with the Formula 1 world, and for the spectators who will have the chance to see exciting races and maybe discover the next talents of the future!”
After picking up seven wins on his way to fifth overall last season, Singapore’s Danial Nielsen Frost is the favourite for the title and collected pole position on Friday morning.