Luke Browning holds a trophy from Race 2 of the 2022 Snetterton 300 and a bubbly drink and smiles at the camera, pointed up at him

Reigning GB3 champion Luke Browning joins the Williams Driver Academy

Williams Racing announced this afternoon that reigning GB3 champion Luke Browning will be joining their driver academy. The 21-year-old, who is competing in the FIA Formula 3 Championship with Hitech Pulse-Eight, joins fellow F3 racers Zak O’Sullivan, Franco Colapinto and Ollie Gray as the latest addition to the fast-growing Williams Driver Academy.

By Daniele Spadi

After spending two seasons in the Ginetta Junior Championship, Browning made his single-seater debut in British F4 in 2019. Following a solid rookie season which saw him win two races and finish sixth in the championship, he entered 2020 as one of the title contenders and managed to win it all in dramatic fashion after a spectacular battle against O’Sullivan.

But Browning couldn’t progress as quickly as others did, most notably because of budget restrictions. He was expected to move up to British F3 – GB3’s former identity – for 2021, but as he struggled to find the budget for a full season, he opted to keep racing in F4 machinery and competed in the 2021 ADAC F4 Championship with US Racing, finishing third in the drivers’ standings.

Despite said difficulties, Browning made his debut in GB3 with a one-off weekend at Oulton Park, winning the second race of the weekend and showing everyone why he deserved a seat in the series.

A recent run of success

In 2022, the Briton got the chance to compete in GB3 for a full season, and he wasted no time as he went on to win the championship with Hitech thanks to five wins and eight additional podiums.

After winning both GB3 and the 2022 Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award, Browning was left wondering what 2023 could have in store for him. A lack of funds remained the major setback for the young Brit, who appeared at the Bahrain FIA F3 pre-season test in February but had no 2023 plans confirmed at the time.

He was eventually announced by Hitech Pulse-Eight as their third and final driver of the season just days before the opening round in Bahrain. The Briton sits in 10th in the standings in large part thanks to a fantastic performance in the opening round’s feature race, which saw him climb from 17th all the way to fifth.

As he made his debut in Formula 3, Browning joined Gabriele Minì and Sebastian Montoya at Hitech – two young talents who likewise joined driver academies over the past few months, with the Italian at the Alpine Academy and the Colombian at the Red Bull Junior Team. Hitech will therefore have three different F1 academies represented among its line-up from the next round in Imola, while Browning becomes the fourth F3 driver to be part of the Williams academy after MP’s Colapinto, Prema’s O’Sullivan and Carlin’s Gray.

Joining an F1 team’s driver academy also means Browning now has more of the stability he was looking for at the end of 2022. The 21-year-old can therefore focus on his progress and growth as a racing driver, knowing that a historic team like Williams will be behind him every step of the way. 

Why the Williams signing matters for Browning

As time goes on and the feeder series world gets more and more competitive, it has become standard procedure for talented young drivers to be scouted and picked up by Formula 1 teams as part of their junior academies. Being part of a driver academy can help massively with funding, sponsorships and general stability – which are crucial for anyone who wants to navigate the feeder series ladder as quickly as possible.

For some drivers, though, budget-related issues threaten to slow down otherwise rapid progress, meaning that joining a driver academy can save their career. The academies are likewise eager to affiliate with those who have the potential to take the motorsport world by storm in the years to come.

It’s no surprise, then, to see Browning picked up by Williams – one of the fastest-growing junior teams as of late – as their latest young driver. Though Browning has long struggled to get the funding he needed to keep his career alive, he has still managed to win titles and get the exposure he deserved – showing that talent can and should be the driving force in a young driver’s career.

Needless to say, a driver with a résumé like Browning’s deserves to be picked up by a driver academy. It’s a fundamental step in the Briton’s career, for he will now get the opportunity to develop his skills with the help of one of the most storied Formula 1 teams. Many drivers often state that joining a driver academy is their main goal to keep progressing in the feeder series world, and the ones who are already part of one reaffirm that the help they get is as substantive as many believe.

It’s difficult to say how Browning’s expectations for the 2023 season will change following the announcement. Though the Briton is just a rookie in FIA F3, he will be under more pressure and his performances under more scrutiny now that Williams have signed him. However, Browning’s future is now tied with the British team, which will massively help the 21-year-old as he keeps developing during his rookie season in Formula 3.

Header photo credit: Jakob Ebrey / GB3 Championship


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