At round nine of British F4 Fortec Motorsports made their return to the series after an eight round hiatus. A two car lineup was present, with one being filled by British F4 returnee Marcos Flack, but the other was a less familiar name within the paddock. F1 Feeder Series sat down with James Higgins after his debut weekend at Silverstone.
By Tom Evans
Over the last few years we have seen many drivers move from Ginetta Juniors in single seaters, the standouts being Jamie Chadwick and Lando Norris. Higgins also took this path, but was it a planned one? James gave his thoughts: “We didn’t really have a plan, Juniors was the logical option. It’s the ideal step up really you can get on the TOCA package, learn the tracks, and most importantly racecraft. Until the end of that year we didn’t even know that we would be moving up to single-seaters, but then we started talking to Ollie Dutton from Fortec about British F4.”
Higgins chose to focus on his education in lieu of competing the first half of 2022. The decision between full-time education and racing can be a tough one, but in Higgins’ words “It was definitely worth not racing as I actually did alright in my exams in the end.”
Testing, testing, testing
Higgins wasn’t without track time, however, as he embarked on a plethora of testing sessions in the current British F4 car, the Tatuus T-421, and the previous generation Mygale car. Higgins felt positive about pre-season testing, as he explained: “Yeah testing went alright to be fair we did some testing in the old Mygale and then one test in the current GB4 car, but since then it’s been exclusively the new Tatuus. We haven’t done too much testing, but the multiple days that we have done are valuable experience for next year.”
When questioned on his team choice, James responded: “The plan was always to test with Fortec. My engineer Mark knew my dad when he was racing, so my dad always said that when I was in single seaters I would run with whatever team Mark worked for because we had full confidence in him and we knew that he knows what he’s doing.”
2022 and Silverstone
After testing, Higgins contented the final 2 rounds of the 2022 British F4 championship with Fortec Motorsport. When asked about how his first weekend of racing in nearly a year unfolded, Higgins explained: “Testing went very well actually. We were in the top six on both Thursday and Friday. But when we came to qualifying it was a slight mess. When we were right about to go on a push lap a red flag came out so that was pretty unfortunate, we ended up about 13th.”
“Initially we thought we could make it back up in the races, but the races weren’t ideal racing conditions. First race we picked up damage on lap 2, in race 2 the Virtuosis collided and I had nowhere to go, and race 3 was hampered with red flags and safety cars. It was definitely still a positive weekend, for us it’s all about the experience.”
When questioned on the team’s weekend overall, James commented: “From a team perspective there was loads of data collected, learning new stuff about the car. And to just get back on the grid was awesome. The pace we’ve shown has been great.”
2023 and beyond
“That’s definitely the plan” says Higgins when asked if he will do a full season with Fortec in 2023. “We’ll try and go for the championship, but it’ll be interesting to see where we end up at the end of the season. We’re going to do some development over the winter to get ready for next year. We’re hopefully going to get some more teammates as well, I know there’s a couple of people that we know who would like to do it.”
When queried on his plans beyond this year, Higgins says: “I think we’re just going to see where we end up at the end of 2023 and see if any offers or opportunities crop up. I would love to plan that far ahead but that’s not going to happen unfortunately. But yeah we’ll see where I end up!”
Header photo credit: Fortec Motorsports
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