Louis Sharp entered 2023 with a point to prove in British Formula 4, having finished fourth in the 2022 standings despite not featuring in the opening round due to being too young.
A superb season followed, highlighted by 12 podiums in 27 starts, with his maiden win coming at Oulton Park and his second at Silverstone.
After winning two non-competition races of Formula 4 UAE in support of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Sharp entered the 2023 season with Rodin Carlin as a strong favourite for the title.
He backed up those performances with victory in the two opening races at Donington Park, including one from the rear of the grid in a reverse start in wet conditions, before finishing sixth in the finale after an off-track venture saw him drop to 18th. He left the venue with the championship lead.
Despite failing to finish the first race at Brands Hatch in Round 2 after stranding in the gravel, Sharp extended his championship lead through fourth-placed finishes in races 2 and 3.
Race 1 of Round 3 at Snetterton was abandoned after a pair of red flags led to barrier repairs, and the race was to be rescheduled for later in the season.
He started the reverse grid Race 2 from 19th and was making progress through the field before being forced off the track and required to box for a new nose section for the car. Rejoining behind the Safety Car at the rear of the field, he made up six places to finish 13th. Sharp went on to finish third in Race 3.
At Thruxton, he achieved two further third-placed finishes and was 12th in the reverse grid race, gaining seven places for points that are accumulated based on how many positions are gained.
The following round at Oulton Park brought a fourth-placed finish in Race 1 after a challenging qualifying session had put him ninth. Having taken contact from the rear in Race 2, Sharp was forced to the pits and lost a lap on the field, resulting in a non-points finish.
He recovered to finish ninth in Race 3 and led the championship at the mid-way point.
A difficult weekend at Silverstone followed, and the championship lead swung in favour of William Macintyre by 28 points despite a podium for the Kiwi in Race 2.
He quickly bounced back, winning two races at Croft and securing three points in the reverse grid field to reduce the gap to the championship lead to six points.
Heavy rain at Knockhill in Scotland made for difficult progress in Round 8, but Sharp still featured on the podium for his ninth top-three finish of the campaign. Macintyre took the advantage to extend his advantage over the 16-year-old to 20 points, setting up a thrilling title fight over the year’s final two rounds.
The second event of the year at Donington featured four races, making up for the cancellation of the opener at Snetterton.
Sharp won the opener, finished third in Race 2, gained ten places in the reverse grid, was third in the finale to win the round, and took a one-point advantage into the season-finale at Brands Hatch.
The Kiwi drew first blood in the opening race, taking victory from the pole and extending the gap to 13 points. Macintyre responded in the reverse grid race to gain nine places for seventh, while Sharp scored eight for 11th.
Needing only to finish ahead of his rival to secure the title, Sharp did just that, coming home in second, one place to the good of McIntyre, to win the championship.
The victory gave Sharp a valuable 12 Super License points, in addition to a Formula One simulator experience at the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team’s state-of-the-art campus in Brackley, the opportunity to spend a Grand Prix weekend embedded with McLaren Racing in 2024 and a year-long coaching programme and expert guidance from BWT Alpine Formula 1 Team at the Alpine Racing Human Performance Centre.
Formula 1 star Lando Norris has won the championship in the past, while Oscar Piastri finished second in 2017.
Sharp was also voted National Racing Driver of the Year in a poll conducted by Motorsport News to add a further stamp on a commanding 2023 season.
The future is bright for the talented teenager, who appears to be following in the footsteps of several of motorsport’s greats for what shapes up to be an incredible career ahead.
The ‘Best of 2023’ series will revisit ten of Velocity News’s most viewed storylines from an incredible year of Kiwis competing abroad.
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