Volante Rosso Motorsport is set to expand its operations and will field cars in the recently announced resurgence of Formula 4 in Australia.
Team principles Josh Hunt and Chris Papadopoulos contacted Topspeed a couple of months ago about leasing cars to tackle the five round series in 2024. Founded in 2008, Topspeed Shanghai has offices in Beijing, Zhuhai, Sepang, Japan, Hong Kong and have additional commercial presence at most circuits of Asia.
The Australian series was discontinued after 2019 and its comeback next year will feature the last round at Sepang in Malaysia, alongside the SE Asia F4 Championship. The potential is for regulars in the latter may take also venture Down Under for other rounds.
“It didn't get a great run in Australia before,” Hunt said. “The new series will give young Aussies a chance to race cars that they would have to go overseas to drive.”
That was the case this year with young Aussies racing in GB4, Spanish F4, SE Asia and the US. Hunt is already fielding enquiries from parents that want their kids to take the next step towards a career in the sport, whether here or Internationally. There have also been International interest in competing here.
Hunt had a car to run this year but didn't want the distraction from Volante Rosso's GT Championship program. They also had a couple of cars in Radical Cup Australia, which their driver Alex Gardner won.
“Next year our desire is to run three to four F4 cars, whatever they allow us to run,” he added and expects his team will join AGI Sport and the likelihood of other former F4 multi-car teams on the grid.
Hunt believes F4 will give aspirants alternatives other than Supercars. “That is just a waiting room for someone to retire,” he quipped.
He cited Jayden O'Jeda and Gardner as two exceptional drivers that have massive futures and have pursued their careers from outside the Supercar tree.
“What Tim (Macrow) has done with his Formula Open category has brought back interest in open wheelers.”
He believes F4 paves the way to develop different skills, and in today's environment, the development programs include sponsor liaison, media skills and the like.
The Formula 4 category was created in 2013 by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile after approval by the World Motor Sport Council as an entry-level category for young drivers, bridging the gap between karting and Formula 3.
Also referred to as FIA F4, it began as a national championship in Italy in 2014 using the Tatuus chassis and Abarth engine. A year later Japan, the United Kingdom, China and Mexico embraced the category and the one-make chassis and engines varied from country to country. More countries followed and each still have national series.
F4 was launched in Australia in 2015 with the Mygale/Ford chassis/engine combination but was discontinued as a championship after the 2019 season due to lack of numbers.
However, the cars continued to race here, more recently as a class within Formula Open, and the state-based Formula Race Cars using the Tatuus/Stellantis FIRE (branded as Abarth) combination. AGI Sport has a strong commitment to F4 and just won the SE Asia F4 Championship.