Formula 4 SEA is Malaysian F1 legacy

THE FIA Formula One World Championship, or better known as just “Formula 1” (F1), has inspired a generation of Malaysians and branded the nation. In 1999, the world became acquainted with a small visionary country nestled in the South China Sea through the first ever F1 “Super Circuit” at Sepang. Malaysia has had the honour of hosting the F1 Grand Prix here for almost two decades, kick-starting a myriad of motorsport-related industries, rejuvenating sectors of the economy and magnetising the world to seemingly endless investment possibilities.

F1’s arrival in Malaysia created a niche in the tourism industry that continues to thrive, triggered vast development projects and an enormous foreign exchange climate that helped Malaysia move ever closer to becoming a high-earning developed nation.

The prospect of F1 is what initially attracted the promoters of Southeast Asia's FIA Formula 4 SEA (F4 SEA) to Malaysia. Since 1996 they have helped seven skilled drivers including Rio Haryanto, Narain Karthikeyan, Takuma Sato and Jazeman Jaafar to test or race in Formula1, while talents such as Daniel Woodroof, Afiq Ikhwan and many others got their start with entry-level championships such as AsiaCup, which is now upgraded to the F4 SEA Championship – certified by the FIA.

Malaysia’s investment in F1 churned up massive interest from the younger generation eager to explore opportunities in motor racing and they are now pursuing motorsport-related careers such as automotive and mechanical engineering, racecar dynamics and analytics, sports journalism, event management and education. For the past 20 years the team behind F4 SEA has been training and developing Malaysians and building an “Asian Autosport Ecosystem” to create and employ a highly-skilled workforce and promote entrepreneurism.

In the wake of F1, this sporting ecosystem continues to grow, commencing with the F4 SEA Championship – the first FIA step to F1 in Asia – which educates local and regional race drivers as well as a support crew of technicians, engineers, administrative staff, PR and television producers, photographers and a host of professionals who have chosen to specialise in this high-tech global industry.

The finale of the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix will be held at the end of this month, with the race day on Oct 1. Let’s celebrate the bounty and pride F1 has brought to Malaysia and the F4 SEA legacy it leaves behind!

F4 and F4 SEA

The FIA launched Formula 4 in 2014 in order to provide young racing drivers from 15 years old with the opportunity to take the first step on the motorsport federation-approved ladder into single-seater racing.

The move was due to FIA realising that there was a confusing multitude of championships for young drivers. Therefore, it simplified their decision-making by introducing an established platform via F4, F3, F2 to F1. Among the many benefits to following an FIA-approved career path is that F4 drivers can collect FIA F1 Super Licence points.

Globally recognised as the best junior driver development programme, The FIA-homologated F4 SEA car is designed to keep costs down while maximising safety, providing an ideal learning platform for young drivers who may have never raced formula cars before.

There is no global championship, but rather individual nations or regions can host their own championships in compliance with a universal set of rules and specifications. The F4 SEA is South East Asia's own, involving races in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. The 2016–17 season was F4 SEA’s inaugural season, which started on Aug 5 last year and finished on Jan 22, this year, after 36 races.

The cars of F4 SEA use composite chassis, powered by naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre FIA homologated engine, paired with a paddle-shifted, six-speed gearbox complemented with the latest F1 safety technology.