Louis Sharp takes another step towards Formula 1 dream
Widely tipped as a future Formula 1 star, Louis Sharp steps up to the GB3 Championship in 2024.
The impressive 16-year-old New Zealander confirmed his prominence as one of the sport’s most exciting young prospects by winning the 2023 ROKiT F4 British Championship. He is now looking to further advance both his experience and reputation in what is widely regarded as the next rung on the ladder towards F1.
“GB3 is obviously a jump up from F4 and the next step towards my target of F1,” confirmed a delighted Sharp. “The cars are a bit more powerful and the calendar is a little more international with three European Grands Prix tracks now on the schedule. So all of that is very, very positive.”
Building on the many successes of 2023, Sharp again will be racing for Rodin Motorsport – a proven front-running team that not only took the highly-rated Kiwi hotshot to the 2023 F4 title but also won last year’s GB3 driver’s title with Swiss-born British driver Callum Voisin.
“Once again I will be racing with Rodin Motorsport and I must thank David Dicker and all those at Rodin Cars for making this possible,” acknowledged the super talented teenager. “Rodin took me to the F4 title and also has a great record in GB3, winning that drivers’ title as well as mine in 2023. In terms of career progression and further success, I really could not hope to be with a better team.”
While Sharp will inevitably find himself competing against returning rivals with more GB3 experience under their belts, he is still setting his sights high.
“I wouldn’t be racing if I wasn’t aiming to win, so back-to-back titles is certainly the aim. However, it is a new category, so I’ve got to take that into account. Even so, I definitely want to be fighting at the front, and fighting for the championship,” revealed the man who was voted the UK’s ‘National Racing Driver of the Year’ by the readers of Motorsport News at the end of last season.
While admitting that he doesn’t want to heap too much pressure on himself, Sharp starts the season with plenty of self-belief having showed both standout maturity and speed to lift the coveted F4 crown.
“You obviously get a lot of confidence from winning a title; knowing I’ve been able to handle everything and come out on top will definitely be a big boost,” he agreed.
“Learning how to win a championship is definitely going to help me going forwards. There’s a lot to take on board, not least knowing that you don’t necessarily have to win every race. The person who wins the championship is the one who is the most consistent throughout the whole season – winning when they can and bagging as many points when they can’t. That’s a big lesson learnt in 2023.”
Providing the perfect proving ground for a grid full of aspiring young Grand Prix stars, all those contesting the GB3 Championship are equipped with identical single-seater chassis built by Tatuus in Italy.
It was the same level playing ground in F4 – the GB3 car, however, has larger wings and is propelled by a more potent 2-litre, normally aspirated engine. This four-cylinder unit produces 250bhp – 75bhp more than the F4’s turbocharged Abarth engine – to give top speeds of around 160mph and thus much faster lap times.
Sharp is clearly relishing the new challenge ahead. “I have already done some laps in the GB3 car, so know what to expect. It is definitely a step up from F4 and, to be honest, I like it better. The chassis has got a bit more horsepower and a lot more downforce, so it is a heap of fun to drive. There will, of course, be an adjustment when it comes to understanding how it reacts when we actually go racing wheel-to-wheel but I’m really looking forward to that,” he enthused.
Adding to the anticipation, and with an eye on the future, five of the season’s eight GB3 events are held on current F1 circuits – Silverstone (twice), Spa-Francorchamps, Hungaroring and Zandvoort – with three points-scoring races at each meeting. The campaign blasts off at Oulton Park over the Easter weekend and concludes on the renowned Brands Hatch GP track in late September.
Again Sharp said he is undaunted and revved up for what is to come. “Without a doubt I’m looking forward to getting onto some of those European F1 tracks. It’s going to be a new learning experience and we won’t get much testing on them, so it will be tough at times. But I’m also looking forward to getting back onto the British tracks with which I’m already familiar – that will be good as I know what to expect.”
Having spent Christmas at home with his family in Christchurch, Sharp will return to the UK before the end of this month in preparation for the new season and his first season in GB3.
“I’m already underway with my physical training, there will be some pre-season testing and I’ll be busy with simulator preparations for the races ahead. I can’t wait for it all to start,” concluded one of motor sport’s foremost rising stars and a young driver many will be watching closely in 2024.