Formula Ford is set to continue having a mimimum age for entry in the United Kingdom of 16 years old, which keeps it above Formula 4.
While other countries such as New Zealand enable drivers as young as 14 to race in the wingless entry-level FF1600 cars, and first-generation F4 cars built from 2014 to 2021 can also be raced by 14-year-olds in many areas of the world, the UK maintains higher age requirements for safety reasons.
The standard minimum age for open-wheel car racing competition is actually 16, but FIA F4 cars “are given special exemptions based upon their compliance to current FIA safety criteria” by Motorsport UK enabling 15-year-olds to race them.
The modern class of FF1600 cars includes chassis dating as far back as the 1990s, and the halo cockpit protection device is not included on any car design in the category.
But to keep the entry-level formula relevant, there have been calls from the UK paddocks to consider lowering the age to 15, particularly for drivers who have already raced single-seaters – whether that be 15-year-olds from F4 looking for a cheaper way to race or FFord stars from abroad seeking to go up against some of the category’s very best drivers.
IndyCar race-winner Roberto Moreno, whose junior single-seater career included winning the 1980 British FFord title and that year’s FFord Festival, spoke about his desire to see the minimum age for entry lowered when he returned to the Festival aged 63 last year to compete in a modern car.
“As I always enjoy FFord, and I cheer for people to go from karting to FFord, I really hope in the future we can help bring the age of FFord drivers down, so they can come earlier from karting to FFord before they go to another series that has wings and bigger tyres,” he said.
“Because the small, skinny tyres, and the car with no wings is what makes the driver become a better driver before they go to the bigger cars. If you go to the bigger cars, you have an aero package with a mechanical package together. If you learn the FFord package, which is just mechanical, before you jump into the other series, you become a driver that appreciates mechanical grip as well as aero grip. Because when they are together, it’s difficult to understand which one is which.”
FFord’s last graduate to F1 was Brendon Hartley in 2017, while current IndyCar rookie Marcus Armstrong came sixth in the 2014-15 South Island FFord championship and also won in New Zealand’s national championship in 2014.
In fact there is a theme of several Kiwi drivers going from FFord to the top level of motorsport, and that is because the country enables those drivers to race in FFord aged 14 before then moving to Europe to kart or race winged single-seaters.
Super Formula-bound Red Bull junior Liam Lawson was the 2016-17 NZ FFord champion, and the country’s two Formula E racers Nick Cassidy and Mitch Evans both built up substantial single-seater experience in FFord before they were 16.