Shihab to debut in French F4 racing
Oman's talented go-karting racer Shihab al Habsi, who recently finished fourth in the CIK-FIA World Championship at the Paul Fletcher International (PFI) circuit in UK, has decided to step up to Formula 4 French Championship for 2018.
The decision to quit go-karting, where he has been dominating in regional races and also made a mark at the international level, was confirmed on Monday by his father-cum-trainer Ahmed al Habsi.
Speaking to Muscat Daily , Ahmed said, “It is the right time for him to switch to F4 after spending five years in karting.”
Shihab will make his single-seater debut next season, starting in April, but is all set to debut in a F4 car next month.
“Shihab will turning 14 on November 5 and will do his maiden F4 testing in France two days later. He is expected to be the youngest driver in F4 French Championship next year.”
“He has been signed up by a French team for the 2018 season but I will provide further details later,” said Ahmed.
The seven-round championship comprises 21 races and runs from April to October on French and European circuits including Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium and Barcelona.
French F4 has been the established entry-level single-seater championship since 1993, and has been won by the likes of current Formula One driver
Stoffel Vandoorne, former F1 drivers Jean-Eric Vergne, Franck Montagny and sportscar ace Loic Duval.
Starting in 2018, the series will have a brand new car homologated by the FIA, the world body, and will switch to the Mygale M14-F4 chassis as it will become an FIA Formula 4 series.
Shihab is likely to be part of the FFSA Academy, which runs under the French Motorsport Federation (FFSA).
The FFSA and Renault work together with the winner of the F4 championship to be picked by the Renault Sport Academy.
Among the many advantages of F4 in 2018 will be that drivers can score points towards the super license for Formula One.
Ahmed said that racing scouts were impressed by Shihab's skills and performance at the PFI circuit where he fought back from 15th place to fourth last month.
Prior to Shihab, another Omani teenager, Al Faisal al Zubair, who currently competes in Porsche Mobil 1 Super Cup endurance racing, had participated in the Formula 4 Championship in Britain. Al Faisal had competed in few of the BRDC F4 races for Hillspeed and Fortec Motorsports in 2016.