Thursday, March 24, 2016: The first step to F1 in Asia, the FIA-certified Formula 4 South East Asia Championship (F4SEA) will be powered by a Renault Sport Racing F4R engine. Firhat Mokhzani and Peter Thompson of Triple A, the promoters of the new FIA Formula 4 SEA Championship, have today confirmed their choice of Renault as the exclusive engine supplier. The innovative and cost-effective format of F4SEA has created local and global interest and will contribute to the advancement of motorsport in the region.
The first round of the new F4SEA Championship will take place on 6-7 August 2016 at the Sepang International Circuit, powered by a newly-designed Renault F4R engine. The engine is based on the 1998cc F4R production engine and will be fitted to a new homologated FIA Formula 4 race car. The 16-valve engine is naturally aspirated and has a power limit of 160bhp.
Renault Sport technicians have carefully adapted the lightweight F4R engine to the FIA Formula 4 technical specification with the aim of producing a reliable, stable and easy-to-maintain engine for the hot and humid Asian climates.
With 3,000km of testing at Val de Vienne and Magny-Cours circuits, the engine further confirmed its performance with a test bed endurance run of 8,000km. The promoters have also tested the engine in hot conditions on the Sepang F1 track in Malaysia.
Renault Sport Racing’s Jean-Pascal Dauce tells us: “We had to match a very tight specification list and are 100% satisfied with the outcome. The global environment and success of the FIA Formula 4 pushed Renault to launch the new F4R engine for 2016 and we are proud to have Formula 4 South East Asia as our first global client.”
Lead ASN, the Malaysian FIA affiliate, the AAM, announced the new F4SEA Championship last November. Meritus.GP who have claimed 36 Asian FIA motorsport titles over the past 20 years, is the exclusive race engineering services provider for the FIA single operator championship. The highly skilled team of Great Professionals will continue to support the international grid while Technical Director and GP2 race-winning engineer Sean Thompson will lead a team of experienced European engineers and driver instructors.
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 have cooperation from the entire FIA Asia Zone: Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand as well as Taiwan and India. It is a big group of ASNs that goes far beyond the shores of Malaysia, and we are all helping to make F4SEA a great success – an international success story to highlight alternative motorsport career opportunities in Asia.”
Firhat Mokhzani of 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. Today’s Renault Sport Racing F4 engine announcement is a positive development for the sport in the region.”
Peter Thompson, F4SEA Promoter adds: “We have 20 years of experience in Asia, and we understand our market. Our AsiaCup Series reduced the financial barriers to transition to formula racing. Our strong brand and winning race heritage, combined with the FIA’s F4 global format, as well as 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 almost a quarter of a century Meritus.GP 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 ‘on the radar’ of the Renault Sport Academy and our F4SEA champions will be rewarded with an end-of-season Formula Renault 2.0 test.”
Promoter’s Background in Asia
Over the past two decades Meritus.GP has won 36 Asian FIA championships and helped many drivers on their way to the top of the sport. Our 1996 champion Narain Karthikeyan was the first Asian to win an FIA championship and went on to drive for the Jordan F1 team.
In 1999 our Macau Formula Renault winner Takuma Sato also went on to race with Jordan and Honda in Formula 1, while our first of seven Formula BMW champions Ho Pin Tung tested the BMW F1 car in 2003. Meritus.GP’s 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.
Winner of 24-Hours le Mans 2015, 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.