Louis Sharp has been voted National Racing Driver of the Year for 2023 in a poll conducted by Motorsport News. The result was announced in the latest issue of the UK’s leading weekly newspaper dedicated to all disciplines of motorsport.
Aged just 16, the super-talented young New Zealander is not only the youngest driver to have won the coveted accolade but also the first single-seater racer and the first from outside Europe.
Sharp enhanced his reputation as one of the sport’s fastest rising stars by overcoming a grid of top international teenage protégés to win this year’s ultra-competitive 2023 ROKiT F4 British Championship Certified by FIA title with an unrivalled tally of six wins plus a further eight podium finishes.
These standout performances ensured the young Rodin Carlin racer was selected alongside fellow single-seater, sportscar and touring car stars among the short-listed 10 drivers by Motorsport News’ expert panel for an online public vote.
Unsurprisingly, in recent years this prized poll has been won by those contesting higher-profile series such as the British Touring Car and GT Championships, so Sharp’s impressive win over other nominees such as BTCC giants Ash Sutton and Tom Ingram and GB3 champion Callum Voisin is all the more meritorious.
“First and foremost I must thank all those Motorsport News readers who voted for me,” enthused a delighted Sharp. “To be honest I was happy just to be on the shortlist, so to win the award is super cool and a wonderful surprise.
“As part of the BTCC bill, the F4 Championship races in front of huge crowds and I’m thrilled that so many of them have clearly enjoyed watching us competing on the tracks in 2023… and then voted for me. It means a lot to a young driver to receive such high recognition from the fans.
“It was obviously a really good year for me,” continued Sharp. “This was my first full season racing in the UK and there were lots of highs and lows, but we came away with the championship and now winning this public vote is another really cool award.”
Motorsport News’ Deputy Editor Graham Keilloh has followed the British F4 Championship throughout 2023 and has no doubts that the fast and feisty young Kiwi is a thoroughly worthy winner of the public vote.
“Louis Sharp has clearly made a big impression on racing fans in the UK with his charging performances to win this year’s British Formula 4 Championship, as well as with his incredible eloquence and maturity out of the car well beyond his years,” explained Keilloh.
“This is evidenced by him coming out on top in a poll of Motorsport News readers picking their biggest star of 2023 on the national circuits, and by Louis beating a strong field of candidates including the big stars from the British Touring Car Championship and British GT, and fellow rising stars from GB3 and elsewhere.
“Louis is a highly worthy winner of MN’s latest National Racing Driver of the Year award and we look forward to following his progress from here! You can also read Louis’s thoughts on his season and what is next for him in a feature marking his award in this week’s Motorsport News!”
With the F4 title secured, Sharp is switching his attention to making the next step towards his ultimate dream goal of Formula 1. In recent weeks he has tested both GB3 and F3 machinery, as well as visiting the Mercedes Formula 1 factory to spend a day on its state-of-the-art simulator – one of the prizes for winning the F4 title. A final decision about the New Zealander’s 2024 plans will be confirmed in the coming weeks.
Words & Header Image: Rodin Cars