Kevin Foster, wearing a FEED Racing jacket, sits on the right-front tyre of a blue single-seater and smiles at the camera.

19-year-old French F4 rookie Kevin Foster: ‘Age doesn’t matter as long as you win races’

Following his dominant win at Jacques Villeneuve and Patrick Lemarié’s FEED racing school last summer, Kevin Foster is now eager to make his single-seater debut in 2023. At 19 years old, the Canadian-Korean knows he does not have the typical profile of a future F1 star but believes in his chances of success in the future. He talked to Feeder Series about his upcoming season in French F4.

By Perceval Wolff

Back in September, Kevin Foster was the first driver announced for this year’s French F4 season. Like Marijn Kremers in 2020 and Robert de Haan in 2022, the Canadian secured full funding for his rookie F4 season thanks to FEED Racing. At already 19 years old, he will be facing drivers that are three or four years younger than him, such as Enzo Peugeot, Evan Giltaire and Max Reis. What does Foster think about this age difference?

A first and only F4 season?

“If I was 15 and I had the money to do F4, of course I would do it, I wish it could have happened, but I can only deal with my current age. I started racing when I was 14, so when these guys get into F4, they are the same age as when I first started karting,” Foster said.

By having just one season funded, that might just be enough to perform and then reach different sponsors. It gives a proof, a record of what I can do.

Kevin Foster

“In retrospect, I believe I have what it takes to still compete. At the end of the day, age doesn’t matter as long as you win races. It’s just that I have to look at the next steps of my career sooner, because these guys can maybe afford a second or even third F4 season to hone their skills, while I just can’t.”

Patrick Lemarié, wearing a FEED Racing coat, puts his arm around Kevin Foster, wearing FEED Racing overalls. They stand amongst blue French F4 single-seaters in front of a garage.
FEED Racing co-founder Patrick Lemarié and Kevin Foster | Credit: FEED Racing

Foster realises how fortunate he is to have a fully funded F4 season and how unique this opportunity is. “Drivers in my position that are budget-limited will only go as far as there is money. That’s why winning FEED was so monumental for me: by having just one season funded, that might just be enough to perform and then reach different sponsors. It gives a proof, a record of what I can do.”

Being 19, Foster has gathered significantly more experience compared to his rivals. “I have had a lot of different backgrounds in motorsport. I’ve done races in karting, dirt bikes, rally cars, and Formula Ford of course.” The driver from Alberta represented Team Canada at the Walter Hayes Trophy and the Formula Ford Festival at the end of 2022.

Following Raoul Hyman’s example

Unlike many drivers, Foster has already ruled out going to F1, instead setting the more realistic goal of reaching Super Formula. He even expressed his desire to have a double program of French and Japanese F4 for 2023 after his win in FEED Racing. However, the Canadian-Korean driver knows how unlikely this move should be.

“It would be difficult for myself to try and make that program work now. It’s still something I want to work towards because you see a lot of drivers, especially the ones that are backed by different driver programs, are participating in multiple F4 categories. Of course, they are sort of the next hopefuls to make it into F1 and I’m not quite going in that direction. But if I have the opportunity to race more often, then why not!”

Foster has been encouraged to pursue his Japanese dream by the signing of Raoul Hyman in Super Formula this year. “[Hyman] just signed with B-Max after doing some European and Asian racing and [taking] a few years off,” Foster explained. “He then came back and swept the F3 [Formula Regional Americas] Championship.

“I would say his sort of career path … would be quite similar to what I’m trying to achieve. His career really encourages drivers like myself. It shows it’s possible.”

2022: From zero to hero

One year ago, Foster was far from thinking he would be racing single-seaters in 2023.

“2022 was kind of a tough year for my family, because we were coming at the end of the amount of budget we could put for racing. I remember sitting with my mom and dad in our living room, talking about how to make the racing work.

“I convinced a few personal backers to help me, which revealed to be so helpful. It allowed me to travel to Kartplex at Area 27 [a racing facility in Western Canada, designed by Jacques Villeneuve] and to win one race there, which allowed me to make some connections with Racelab, who signed me in their race team. And then it went kind of rocketship from there.”

A blue single-seater races past orange and yellow grass at the start-finish straight of the Circuit de Nogaro
Kevin Foster | Credit: FEED Racing

Thanks to his mentors Bill Drossos and Neil Braun, Foster became a protégé of Area 27 and Jacques Villeneuve. After winning the Rotax Max Senior Canada Finals, he then went on to win the FEED Racing program to earn his place in French F4 and will continue receiving support from the Canadian structure. “There is sort of a program we are putting together at Area 27 to help and fund my living expenses when I will be living in France,” Foster said.

The emotions of the winning feeling

Despite not having done a single F4 race, Foster already had to face the pressure of being the favorite throughout the whole FEED final, after utterly dominating the quarter and semi-finals.

“I was sort of leading every session, setting the pace. At some point, I had seven or eight tenths to the next fastest driver, so I was at a point where, if I didn’t win this final, if I mess this up… it was sort of mine to lose. There was a lot of pressure.

When you drove your absolute heart out for five laps, your mind is still fuzzy, you are still shaking, the adrenaline is still pumping.

Kevin Foster

“In the final, I did what I normally do: just try to turn off my brain, get into a flow, put some good laps together. When I crossed the finish line, I didn’t know if I had won or lost. It is just when I came back into the pitlane and that I hopped out of the car that I realised. Immediately there was a camera and a microphone to my face and I had to quickly find some words… It looks easy on television with F1 drivers that have media training, but it is clearly not!

“When you drove your absolute heart out for five laps, your mind is still fuzzy, you are still shaking, the adrenaline is still pumping. I tried to calm down as quick as I could and say something tangible and respectable,” he said.

Targets for 2023

Last year, FEED winner Robert de Haan claimed podiums in Spanish F4, while other finalists such as Elliott Vayron and Enzo Peugeot got some wins and finished in the top five in French F4. What are Foster’s objectives for this upcoming season?

“To be honest, it’s difficult to answer because I don’t know quite well where I stand. I have only raced F4 cars with FEED in an isolated environment. We will see. I obviously want myself to do well. I know a few of the coaches at FEED that said that would be possible to get some podiums, if not a few wins in the season, and I definitely hope we can achieve that,” he said.

“It would be sort of a flexible goal, we will see where we are during pre-season testing and after the first race, set a reasonable expectation from there. I never like to talk too early.”

French F4 official pre-season testing took place on 15 and 16 February at Nogaro and will continue on 15 and 23 March at the Bugatti Circuit in Le Mans. The first round will take place two weeks later at Nogaro.

Header photo credit: FEED Racing


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