What now for Louis Sharp?

Louis sharp has finished his second competitive season in the ROKiT F4 British Championship certified by FIA by taking out the title at the final round.  As this is likely to be his last outing in the Formula 4 single seater category, what is next for the 17-year-old Kiwi?  Moving up a category to Formula Regional or Formula 3 would appear the obvious choice which in turn leads to the question of which single seater series for the 2024 season?

It’s known that Sharp’s future is aligned with one of the largest teams outside of Formula One, Rodin Carlin.  The team became Rodin Carlin after New Zealand based Australian businessman David Dicker took a majority shareholding in Carlin, earlier in 2023.  Previous to this happening, Rodin Cars has been a major sponsor of Sharp and now with Rodin Carlin, Sharp has the opportunity and pathway right through the different feeder series to Formula One.

Rodin Carlin compete in the F4 British Championship, Spanish F4, F1 Academy, GB3 Championship, the FIA Formula 3 Championship and FIA Formula 2 Championship.  Hence, the next step for Sharp is likely to be either GB3 or the FIA Formula 3 Championship.

Formula 3 is a category in which we could see Sharp competing over the next two seasons giving him ample time and experience in racing, circuits and race craft across the UK and Europe.

Louis played a critical role in his Rodin Carlin team seeing off the challenge of Hitech Pulse-Eight to retain the prized Team’s Cup

Previously named the BRDC British Formula 3 Championship, the GB3 Championship is the UK’s premier single seater championship aimed at young drivers moving up from Formula 4.  The 2024 calendar comprises eight rounds, six in the UK including Brands Hatch, Donington Park, Oulton Park and Silverstone, all circuits Sharp has already competed on, as well as three European tracks – Hungaroring (Hungary), Zandvoort (Netherlands) and Spa (Belgium).  The car is a Tatuus chassis powered by a 2.0 litre (250 HP) Duratec engine.

The FIA Formula 3 Championship came about from the merger of the GP3 Series and the FIA Formula 3 European Championship in 2019 and is a feeder series to the FIA F2 Championship.  The 2024 season comprises ten rounds following the F1 calendar starting at the Bahrain International Circuit and ending at Monza, Italy.  The car is a Dallara chassis powered by a 3.4 litre V6 Mecachrome 380 HP engine.

It will be no surprise if we see Sharp turn up on the grid of the 2024 GB3 Championship.  He has time on his side and another season in the UK will not be wasted. He knows the tracks and staying in an environment he knows gives him time learning a more powerful car with more aerodynamics.

The attraction of competing in the FIA F3 means a competitor will be seen by the wider motorsport community.  The spotlight is on this series competing at F1 Grand Prix events where talent will be seen by F1 teams, sponsors and fans.  Along with this comes the good and bad pressure to perform. It can be a make-or-break situation if a driver makes this move too soon.

Whereas the attraction of competing in the GB3 Championship is a driver is away from the ‘spotlight’ and can get on with learning and gaining experience.  Even two seasons in the series before stepping up to Formula 2 has its merits.  The key one being that a driver can stay away from his future F1 rivals and away from the pressure of having to perform.

Remember the famous Ayrton Senna stayed in the UK competing in the 1981 British Formula Ford Championship, the 1982 British Formula Ford 2000 and then the 1983 British Formula Three Championship before making his Formula One debut with Toleman-Hart in 1984.

Benjamin Carrell is a freelance motorsport writer and currently edits talkmotorsport.co.nz. He writes for a number of Kiwi drivers and motorsport clubs. That's when he's not working in his horticultural day-job or training for the next road or mtb cycle race!


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