It’s been a week since Sam Whittle returned from the UAE having finished third overall in the F4-s Series organised by H2o Racing.
I spent some time with Whittle to talk to him about the 2018 season and his racing plans for next year.
A last minute decision to race in the F4-s Series
It was a fantastic season and an amazing experience to travel to and visit so many different countries.
The season started off in Portimão, Portugal:
It was a last-minute rush!
My dad (Keith) did the deal with Duarte Benavente for me to join his F1 Atlantic Team as their F4-s driver just 9 days before the race.
I’d raced my BaBa hull at the Lowestoft & Oulton Broad Motor Boat Club Interclub event on the Sunday and we packed the boat, tools and equipment on the Monday ready for the trip south.
The boat was transported down to Duarte’s race HQ in Portugal and then decaled up in the F1 Atlantic livery.
The F4-s series has 2 races at each venue, for Whittle it was an inauspicious start:
In Portimão, we had technical problems on the Saturday and could only manage a 7th on the Sunday.
A flip in London
Next on the calendar was the Grand Prix of London, Whittle’s home race.
The venue at the historic Royal Victoria Dock, not far from Whittle’s birthplace of West Middlesex saw him flip at the first turn:
My own fault!
I had too much trim and caught the wind.
Luckily, I landed the right way up and it only took Dad and I 15 or 20 minutes to get the boat ready for the second race.
In front of family and home fans, he had a point to prove:
I wasn’t nervous, I was angry with myself and was raring to go for the Sunday race!
A second place behind Germany’s Max Stilz, his first top three finish, saw the conclusion of racing in Europe as the F4-s boats don’t compete in Evian, France.
The team would then head to China in September, eighth place overall in the championship.
It took us nearly 3 days to get to Xiangyang, we had flight delays and diversions, but what an incredible experience!
It was a lot better weekend on the water with a 4th overall, the venue was absolutely packed with spectators.
Whittle’s winning weekend in India
Next up was Amaravati in India:
It was one of the best events I have ever been to, well organised, the people were so helpful and friendly and the atmosphere was great.
We had a boat parade through the town – I thought the whole of India had come out to watch!
It took me 20 minutes to get through the crowds after the race and do selfies with the fans whilst the security guards protected me.
Amaravati would turn Whittle’s season around, he won the weekend overall and to add extra spice, beat fellow Brit Ben Jelf.
He’s a good driver with loads of experience, it was great to be on the podium with him.
Heading to the UAE third overall
Earlier this month the team flew to the UAE to compete at Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.
It was another first for me, I hadn’t been to the UAE before.
Abu Dhabi is a big course, it’s like doing a records run, it’s that long!
We had some amazing competition there, Max (Stilz) was leading the championship, Tom Chiappe had found more speed with a new prop – Second overall there was a great result under such pressure.
The season concluded in Sharjah
Alexander Lindholm, Chiappe and Stilz got the better of Whittle at the Sharjah races, however he had done enough to finish third overall in the 2018 F4-s Championship and he celebrated with his father Keith at the prize giving held in the desert.
I really want to thank Duarte Benavente for allowing us to be a part of the F1 Atlantic Team this season.
Next year, Harvey Smith will be representing the team in F4-s and I wish him the best of luck, it’s a long season and my advice to him is not to make any mistakes and grind out as many points as you can.
It’s UIM F2 for 2019!
I’ve raced F4 for the last 6 years and it’s time to move on.
Next year I’m going to race in F2, I need time in the boat to get used to it and I’ll be doing some club racing over here, racing in Brodenbach, Germany and then maybe later in the season enter into the UIM F2 World Championship.
After the interview, the self-effacing racer and I ventured to his father Keith’s Powertech Marine Christmas Party and he asked me:
Don’t forget to mention that we thank everyone who helped us this season.