F4SEA to Champion the Development of Asia’s Motorsport Ecosystem
Kuala Lumpur, 1 July 2016 – The FIA F4 global championship format arrives in Asia with the first successful F4 South East Asia driver’s collective tests at Sepang F1 track. A significant turning point for the development of Asian motorsport, the F4 SEA championship, certified by the FIA, will kick off with a six-race event on the 5-7th August at Sepang International Circuit.
F4SEA is a single-operator championship, with race services supplied exclusively by the MERITUS.GP team. The tests saw engineers and technicians prepare and set up the newly-arrived FIA F4 homologated racecars, which were assembled in France by the team’s Malaysian technicians from the ground up, during 6 weeks intensive training with the chassis and engine partners.
The two test days on 29-30 June on the newly-resurfaced 5.543km Sepang F1 track focused on introducing the FIA F4 racecars to the 14 ‘rookie’ drivers. The drivers, graduating from AsiaCup and transitioning from karting, put on an impressive show with lap times almost 4 seconds quicker than those achieved in AsiaCup. The best time posted was 2:11.8 but with a bit more development 2.9’s are possible.
Peter Thompson, Chairman Triple A: “We believe F4SEA is the most important development in the history of Asian motorsport and our plan is to pioneer an integrated Asian motorsport ecosystem, creating careers for both drivers and technicians and providing all the steps to F1 on an Asian motorsport ladder.”
Firhat Mokhzani, Managing Director Triple A: “We were very happy with the pace of the cars over the two days. Powered by a naturally-aspirated 4-cylinder 2000cc engine with 160bhp, these cars are more powerful than the AsiaCup cars we ran in the past. These successful collective tests prove that we have chosen the right (non turbo) engine and chassis combination.”
Sharli Mohd, F4SEA Head of Championship Operations: “This week was very important as we prepare for the championship season ahead. We were keen to test all our systems and overall it has been a very productive session. I am especially proud of our three-year journey through AsiaCup which formed the basis of our technical training programme. Formula 4 South East Asia has provided me and the Meritus.GP technicians with a fantastic opportunity to progress our skills.”
The new Formula 4 South East Asia Championship, certified by the FIA, is one of 12 worldwide championships in the FIA F4 global format. F4SEA is designed to develop Asia’s motorsport talent through a cost-effective programme and is the first step on the FIA’s streamlined ladder to developing professional careers in the sport.
Formula 4 South East Asia Championship
5 July 2016
Formula 4 SEA: Background Information
F4SEA Organiser the AAM Chairman HH Tunku 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 want to make F4SEA an international success story to highlight alternative motorsport career opportunities in Asia.”
Firhat Mokhzani F4SEA Promoter (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.”
Peter Thompson, F4SEA Promoter (Triple A) adds: “Our AsiaCup Series reduced the financial barriers to transition to formula racing. Our winning heritage, combined with the FIA’s F4 global format, on 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 a quarter of a century MERITUS 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 ‘under the radar’ of Renault Sport Academy and we hope that our champions will be rewarded following an end of season Formula Renault 2.0 test.”
2016 Formula 4 South East Asia Championship Calendar – Certified by the FIA
30 race championship
Peter Thompson has been involved in motorsport for the last 35 years. With his brothers he started Ireland’s automotive industry in 1983 and together with Frank Costin (brother of Mike Costin from Cosworth) they designed and raced Ireland’s first GT sportscar. The TMC Costin Company was subsequently sold to Don Panoz in 1988 and the design formed the basis of the Panoz Roadster and the now-famous Panoz automotive company in the USA. Thompson introduced Panoz to Adrien Reynard in 1995, leading to the first Panoz le Mans participation and of course the Panoz Champ Car Series single-seaters (later rebranded IndyCars) went on to win the Indy 500 four times.
Following successful participation in European championships including Formula Vauxhall, Formula Opel Lotus, Formula 3 and Formula 3000 Thompson was invited by his Marlboro sponsor to establish the Marlboro-Castrol Meritus Formula Asia 2000 team in 1996. Their first champion Narain Karthikeyan went on to race with the Jordan F1 team ten years later, as did Takuma Sato who joined the Honda F1 team.
Over the past two decades in Asia, Meritus.GP has won 36 Asian FIA championships and helped many more drivers on their way to the top of the sport. Our first of seven Formula BMW champions Ho Pin Tung tested the BMW F1 car in 2003 whilst 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.
2015 24-Hours le Mans winner 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.
For more media information
Formula 4 SEA: Technical Factsheet
- The F4SEA racecar chassis is FIA crashed tested to stringent F3 standards
- The carbon-fibre chassis is extremely rigid and is exactly the same as the bigger F1 cars/
- The F4SEA racecars also features paddle shift gearboxes, the most current technology in single-seater racecars in which the clutch is controlled by electronic computers and hydraulics. To change gears, the driver selects the desired gear with the transmission shift lever and the system operates the clutch and throttle to match the revolutions and engage the clutch again.
- The 16-valve naturally aspirated FIA F4 homologated engine has gone through a stringent homologation process and power is sealed at 160bhp
- It is a 4 cylinder 2000cc engine with 160bhp, which is more powerful than the 140bhp in the Formula BMW race cars previously used in the predecessor AsiaCup Series
- The F4SEA racecar engine is based on a road car design and amongst the FIA homologation requirements is that it possesses a life span of 10,000km
- Unlike other F4 championships, the F4SEA championship racecar engines will not to use turbo power. Triple A believes that a naturally aspirated engine is more reliable in Asia’s hot humid Asian climate