It was around this time four years ago that 15-yr old Lando Norris climbed into the new Ford-powered single seater at Brands Hatch and raced to the first of two wins that weekend; victories that would set him on the way to becoming the first British champion of the modern F4 era, and ultimately, a McLaren Formula One driver.

Rebranded FIA Formula 4 in 2016, Britain’s most competitive entry-level single seater series is now one of fourteen national/regional championships held under the FIA’s price-cap code, a cost-restricted scheme dedicated to managing the transition of karting talent into adult racers; young men and women who are often already successful juniors, seeking a gateway to a structured career ladder towards Formula One. Of course, whilst for most, the thrill of lining-up alongside the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel is the ultimate goal, you only need to look at the growing list of notable alumni to see that of those whose journey ends prematurely, many go-on to forge exciting careers outside of single-seaters, in the manufacturer-backed worlds of GT and prototype racing.

Powered by Ford and supported by Hankook Tyres, British F4 now leads the way (along with its German counterpart) in hosting some of the most thrilling wheel-to-wheel racing of any junior category; drivers from around the world lining-up in a bid to emulate Norris’s success. As a supporting championship to the BTCC, these young racers are immediately thrust into the spotlight of tens of thousands of fans at venues around the country, and a live television/streaming audience reaching millions over the season. And for those with winning ways, there are big prizes to race towards too; cash at every round and the season finale, but more importantly, FIA Super Licence points to the top seven finishers each year *.

* Drivers hoping to gain a Super Licence, one of the requirements of entry into Formula One, must have accrued at least 40 qualifying points over the previous three seasons of racing. The winners of all F4 Championships receive 12 points, going down to a single point for P7.

Here are twenty of our favourite images from the official British F4 Media Day test. You can expect many more when the action begins for real.

    For some, it’s their very first season of car racing; others might have one or two years experience behind them. At any level of motor sport, experience will always be a factor, but have no doubt that as they arrived at Brands Hatch last week for the annual Media Day test, every single driver lining-up on British F4’s grid of 2019 will see this as the most important year of their fledgling careers, filled with the belief that F1’s pot of gold is absolutely within their grasp.

    Series returnee Josh Skelton scored 11 rookie podiums in 2018, including four top-six finishes overall. This year he immediately signalled his intent by delivering the fastest lap of the morning session, which was also recorded as the fastest lap of the day.

    Arden’s Aussie Formula Ford recruit, Bart Horsten was fastest in the afternoon session, where track conditions changed minute by minute.

    Three of the four British F4 Champions (including Lando Norris’ MSA Formula title in 2015) previously raced in Ginetta Junior. Luke Browning and Louis Foster are both Ginetta graduates and both race winners in 2018 (taking 17 victories from 26 starts between them). Both will be expected to shine as they propel their ambitions ever forward.

    Joining Bart Horsten at Arden are former kart champions Alex Connor and Tommy Foster. It’s a formidable line-up for the Young Racing Driver Academy squad and all three members will be pushing-hard to gain the advantage needed to secure the team’s backing to take them right through to FIA F2.

    Britain has an unrivalled reputation for attracting global talent into its national racing championships. This year sees another ‘first’ with the inclusion of Saudi Arabia’s Reema Juffali, the first Saudi woman to ever compete in motor sport. Aged 27, Juffali only took part in her debut race in October last year and just two months later sealed her credentials by winning her first race in the TRD GT86 Cup at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit.

    Brazilian Roberto Faria joins Fortec with an already impressive pedigree of national and international karting success to his name. With extensive winter testing and simulator time behind him, there are already high hopes for the young man from Rio, whose progress will no doubt be closely followed by a growing band of fans across the Atlantic.

    There might not be any points at stake during pre-season testing but you cannot underestimate the importance of the bragging-rights up for claim. Josh Skelton’s morning session time was the fastest of the day but this didn’t stop the JHR driver from pushing ever harder.

    Zane Maloney is another successful karter making the transition to cars. Spearheading the return of Carlin to the championship, the Bajan’s presence on track was, at times, nothing short of imposing. I often say that to win in motor sport, you need strong natural talent, the backing of a competent team and just a little bit of swagger: This young man has all three.

    Latin America has the envied reputation of being the home to some of the world’s finest race drivers. In recent years, Mexico has risen to the fore and once again, 2019 sees two piloto bringing their talent to these shores. Sebastian Alvarez raced to 12 top-ten finishes last year and will return expecting to challenge for podium places.

    Mariano Martinez joins British F4 from the NACAM (North & Central American) F4 Championship where he raced last year to nine points finishes from just thirteen starts.

    Brands Hatch is the perfect venue to test the abilities of any driver. One lap of the just-over one mile Indy Circuit might last less than 50 seconds but every hundredth has to be earned. Lines must be sure, braking uncompromised and nerves steady. It’s now just three weeks before the racing begins: Who wouldn’t want to be there?!

    Time in the garage can be just as important as time on track. Whether recording interviews for sponsors or running through data, it’s all part of a racing driver’s day (and night).

    Every corner counts but few are as imposing as Paddock Hill. Confidence must be absolute and both JHR drivers (Carter Williams & Josh Skelton) clearly enjoy plenty.

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Images: Steve Hindle (The Black Stuff) and Jakob Ebrey (at