Daniel Ricciardo has thrown his weight behind Formula Four in Australia amidst the political tussle between the fledgling series and Formula Ford.
The Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS), Australian motorsport’s governing body, this week revoked Formula Ford’s national championship status in favour of F4, which it administers.
Formula Four, which will debut next weekend as in Townsville a V8 Supercars support category, is being implemented as part of the FIA’s global strategy for single seaters, and is designed to provide an internationally standardised stepping stone for young drivers on their way to Formula One.
Formula Ford responded by labelling the decision a “purely political manoeuvre” and defended itself as a significant cultivator of Australia motor racing talent.
“We would also like to remind various people within the Australian motor racing landscape that we have produced more professionally paid Australian racing drivers than any other development category in the country,” the Formula Ford Association said in a statement.
However, Australian Formula Ford’s most recent high profile graduate, Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo, believes that Formula Ford had had its day.
“To be honest I think it’s good that Formula Four is taking over,” Ricciardo exclusively told Box of Neutrals. “I think Formula Ford has been there, and now it’s time for evolution.”
Both Formula Ford and Formula Four are competing for the same drivers — young karters looking for a way into professional racing — but are critically differentiated by car design.
Formula Four is a wings-and-slicks category, meaning car philosophy is broadly similar to that employed by Formula One. Formula Ford, on the other hand, does not make use of aerodynamic wings.
“Wings and slicks, a little bit more power — only this sort of trend is going to prepare you more for Formula One and categories here in Europe,” continued Ricciardo.
“A lot of kids were quick in Formula Ford and their car control was awesome, but then they came to Europe and drove Formula Three or something with so much more grip and it was like starting over again.
“Formula Four will be a better benchmark and a better stepping stone for them.
“I think Formula Four is really good. I think it is what some countries need — like Australia — and I think it will be very successful.”