Bulgaria’s F1 hope: Nikola Tsolov’s meteoric rise through the ranks

Tsolov’s rise to FIA F3 has been nothing short of spectacular, dominating Spanish F4 in 2022, setting the stage for the Bulgarian to make the step up with ART in 2023. Tsolov’s 12 wins from 21 races are even more impressive when you consider the fact that he wasn’t even sure he’d be racing cars this time last year. Feeder Series takes a look at his career so far.

By Oorjit Mishra

2021 was the year Tsolov really came into the spotlight as one to watch, as he proved to be frontrunner across the various WSK events he entered that season, despite being a rookie to the OK Senior class. Going up against the likes of Andrea Kimi Antonelli, Ugo Ugochukwu, Rafael Camara and Arvind Lindblad, Tsolov was consistently fighting for victories racing for DPK Racing , Alonso Kart’s factory team.

As a reward for all the silverware he brought back to the Alonso Kart factory, Tsolov had the opportunity to share a kart with Fernando Alonso himself in the 2021 Dubai Kartdrome 24 Hours. This proved to be Tsolov’s big break, as he was signed to the 2-time World Champion’s A14 Management just two months later. By the time Tsolov lined up on pole position at Portimao for the first race of the Spanish F4 season, he was a true Alonso protégé, having been coached by the Spaniard throughout the pre-season tests.

Hero to Zero to Hero

While he qualified on pole for Race 1 at Portimao, Tsolov’s season got off to an embarrassing start as he stalled in the first standing start of his career. His fight back through the field, however, set the tone for the rest of the season, as he set the fastest lap despite having to pass 15 cars on his way back up to 14th. From there, he went on to win his second race in F4, despite being up against drivers with a wealth of experience in F4 machinery. The second round at Jerez was where Tsolov found his stride, beginning his astonishing eight race-winning streak, which saw him with an almost unassailable lead by the mid-point of the season at Aragon.

A valiant challenge from Hugh Barter, who collected 5 of his 6 victories in just two rounds at Aragon and Navarra wasn’t enough to stop Tsolov, who wrapped up the title with a round to spare at Navarra. It was the final round at Catalunya which held the fondest memories for Tsolov, however, as he managed to put together a perfect weekend, taking pole position, victory, and fastest lap in all three races. Having thoroughly demolished his competition in 2022, Tsolov turned his attention to 2023 almost immediately, doing the FIA F3 post-season test for ART GP at Jerez.


It remains to be seen how Tsolov will adapt to the significantly faster F3 machinery next year, especially as he is expected to be one of the youngest drivers on the grid next year, but he has certainly earned the opportunity. The step up from F4 to FIA F3 is a massive one, and many drivers in the past have opted to prepare for it by doing a season in FRECA, as 2022 Italian F4 Champion Andrea Kimi Antonelli has. Despite this, Tsolov is no stranger to jumping into the deep end, and it won’t be surprising if he finds himself at the sharp end of the grid next year. 

Header photo credit: Nikola Tsolov Racing


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