While it may only be a couple of weeks into the new year, the winter series are already upon us, with the start of the renamed Formula Regional Asian Championship (FRAC) only a matter of days away. In anticipation, F1 Feeder Series exclusively interviewed one of the drivers looking to take advantage of the early return to racing: Frederick Lubin. “I’m happy that I don’t have to wait until April to start racing,” he says. “The grid’s going to be big and there’s really competitive drivers. It’s going to be a blast.”
By Tyler Foster
Still only 17 years old, Lubin was the first to be announced as part of the 2022 winter series season, racing for Australian outfit Evans GP. The British driver is now in his third year of single-seater racing, after making his debut in British F4 at the age of 15. Unfortunately, Lubin’s rookie GB3 season last year was completely disrupted halfway through after suffering from a heart condition called myocarditis.
“It was in preparation for the Donington weekend, on the Monday morning,” he recalls. “I was having pretty bad chest pains and both of my arms were numb, so I went to get my blood tested. Then on Wednesday my mum came into my room and said, ‘You can’t go to Donington this weekend, you’re not allowed to race, you cannot get in the car. We have to go to hospital today, you might be administrated’. That was the day we found out that I had myocarditis, which is when a certain area of your heart is enflamed. The problem with sticking me in a car was that it could cause an arrhythmia, I could pass out, heart attacks, it was all on the cards.”
Joining GB3 with Arden looked to be the right call after a strong start to the 2021 campaign, with points in all of the first six rounds. However, his bout of myocarditis was the point at which everything changed. Asked how he reflects on his entire 2021 season, he said: “It’s a write-off.”
While he did return two rounds after his diagnosis and managed a strong end to the season, with points in all twelve remaining races including two podiums, Lubin believes he returned too soon and was not sufficiently prepared for a comeback at that time.
“It wasn’t great and I think coming back from it was really difficult as well. Mentally it’s lasted a lot longer on me than physically. As far as the heart condition goes, we’ve been assured that it has been cleared up and shouldn’t occur again. Hopefully that’s done and out of the way.”
A late starter
Lubin comes from a family without a name in motorsport and despite his father’s love for Formula One, he had no early start in the business.
“I’m also the only one in the family that does it,” he explains. “I didn’t have a dad or uncle that fed me into karting when I was 6. I didn’t really start [karting] competitively until I was 14, which in this game is seriously late. Realistically for me, with how late I started and then the year I had, I think for me it will happen a bit later but you can never rule anything out in this sport.”
Asked whether he’s always had the same aim as a driver, he said that his “long term goal is to get to F1. So that goal has never changed ever since I was interested in karting.”
After early successes in karting, Lubin made the jump to single-seaters and British F4 in 2020 with Arden. Like most drivers, he’s his own biggest critic and considers his debut season in single-seaters as “average”.
“If we had done things better, the rookie championship [in British F4] would have come our way. When I’m asked about British F4, I say that I finished 9th overall before I say that I finished 2nd in the Rookie Cup.”
“There were a lot of times I think I could have done better but I have to remember that I only had one year of experience coming into that year. I built a foundation that enabled me to move forward and obviously I’ve made connections with people that are now going to be part of the journey for as long as I’ll be in the sport.”
Heading into 2021, Lubin decided he would not return for a second season in British F4 due to a concern over penalty points. “The way they were dished out like candy was a bit unnerving,” he says. “That was the deciding factor.”
Instead he switched his attention to Formula Regional-level cars. His GB3 campaign was followed by a number of post-season Euroformula Open tests in late 2021 for Carlin and Motopark. Lubin says that he sees himself with Carlin at some point in the future, but is unsure whether this will be in Euroformula or another championship.
“The day with Carlin was fantastic, I loved that day. I’ve wanted to test with Carlin for a while. It’s been really good to learn the tracks and the cars.”
Short and sharp
Since his last GB3 race in October, Lubin signed with Evans GP to compete in the upcoming Formula Regional Asian Championship (FRAC) in the United Arab Emirates. With this year’s FRAC grid being deeper and seemingly more competitive compared to previous year’s, we asked Lubin how important this series is to his career and what he wants from it.
“The fantastic thing with this Asian Championship is that it gives me a winter series that’s really short and sharp; five weekends in a row, to really get into shape and iron out any kind of doubts before going into the main season. Whatever that main season is, the Asian Championship will have helped massively.”
“In terms of my career it’s fantastic because we’re now travelling outside of Britain. It gets my name out there. With drivers such as [Arthur] Leclerc, [Oliver] Bearman; that my name is amongst theirs, it’s all helping.”
“To be able to just go out to Dubai where it’s warm and enjoy racing and driving without the pressure of results is fantastic. At the same time there’s still a goal in mind, we still need to do well. It’s a bigger picture than just to go and win something.”
“Historically I seem to come alive at the end of the season, so I’m definitely going to be pushing really hard in Round 1 and trying to get myself into really uncomfortable positions. We have five rounds back-to-back so there’s no point me switching on in the third round.”
For Lubin, a strong showing in this winter series could act as the catalyst for a breakthrough year, especially after his disruptive last campaign in GB3. It’s still unclear what Lubin will do after competing in FRAC, but it seems that the two main options for the young Brit are a return to GB3 for a second season or a possible venture in Euroformula Open.
“Regardless of what championship [he competes in this season], I think the results need to come pretty thick and fast. I’m having to bring results for this year and last year. Whatever we do, I need to be up at the front.”
The FRAC series starts on 22nd January at Yas Marina.
Header photo: Jakob Ebrey Photography