Jack Barlow is a young driver who is making his mark on the Formula 4 championship. Despite being his first season of single-seaters, the 18-year-old has already taken two wins and numerous other podiums.
Consistency has been key to Jack’s success in the Formula 4 championship so far. He hasn’t finished outside of the points thus far and that has helped him climb to his current championship standing position: fourth and top of the single-seater rookies.
The Brit had a highly successful karting career that saw him take the Rotax Cup championship, Super 1 championship and Kartmasters Grand Prix championship all in one year. He finished third in the Super 1 KF2 series last year before making the daunting jump to single-seaters.
So how did he get into motorsport in the first place? Barlow told RichlandF1: “I’ve always had an interest in motorsport and karting, really. I just went down to Lydden Hill, brought my first kart and it started from there as a hobby. I then started racing and then continued to take it to the next level.”
It started out as a hobby for Jack, but now he has just made the move to ‘slicks and wings’ racing. What a difference a few years makes. Drivers are faced with a big challenge when making the switch, due to the big differences in power, handling and grip as well. How is he finding it? “I’ve adapted to it a lot quicker than I expected, with the limited time we have had but it’s a lot better than karting and I’m enjoying it a lot more.”
He adds: “I got to that stage in my karting career where I didn’t find it as much fun; it became a bit too competitive for what it is. It’s definitely a lot better.”
Barlow admitted that it is a bit early to say whether he is a better kart or car racer, but explained that one of the main difficulties he had been understanding the concept of downforce, which too “a bit more time” go get into his head: “The whole purpose of understanding that, the faster you go round the high-speed corners the more downforce and the more grip you will have. That took a bit more time to get into my head.”
Despite the challenges of making the jump, he explained his satisfaction with the results and performance so far: “Yeah, the championship is going really well at the minute. I got a couple of wins, it would be nice to get a few more consistent results, maybe a few more podiums before the end of the season and some more wins.”
He added that a top three finish is the main aim: “Yeah, it’s looking good and I will be happy if I get a top three finish by the end of the season.”
When asked who his biggest competitor in the series was, his answer just proved how competitive the Formula 4 championship is because everyone has had their chance at getting good results: “I think everyone really, I think there’s a lot of new drivers coming up through that are just showing their form in the last couple of races, like the likes of Ross Gunn who has just come out of karting as well. Everyone is different at different tracks.”
However he later added: “The main obvious ones are the experienced ones of Seb Morris, Matt Bell and Jake Dalton. Although I think everyone has been quick at one point of the season.”
He is also expecting to be in the title hunt, admitting: “I’m not too many points off the leader and we are only half way through the season, so anything is possible.” But his main aim? “I will be extremely happy with a top three. But if we can come out as the winner at the end of the season, that would be a bonus.”
And his aims for the future? He was the first to admit that he doesn’t really know, explaining that it all depends on the results and more importantly, the budget.
We then moved on to the topic of the series itself, which Jack described as being “perfect for the move out of karting.” He then went on to discuss the additional testing that they have, benefiting those with bigger budgets but something that has worked out with him.
Discussing the subject of testing, he said: “There’s a lot of racing, there’s unlimited testing so as long as you have the budget behind you, you can get out in the car and learn as much as you possibly can, whereas a lot of the other championships are more restricted in the amount of testing.”
I wanted to ask him something different, so I questioned him on his helmet design. He admitted that his current design was quickly thrown together by his PR as he wanted it “done before the world finals” in karting. However he is hoping for a new helmet design.
But what would he want from his helmet design? “More than anything, I want it to stand out and be easy to spot.” However he doesn’t want to change his helmet design too often. He wants a trademark design like Jenson Button or Felipe Massa, which he can have with him throughout his career.
Discussing trademark designs he said: “Yeah I would definitely prefer a trademark design as when people see you coming through the ranks, they will remember you more for your helmet than your name. If I can get a good design put together now, I would love to keep it for the rest of my career.”
Our conversation then moved to the topic of Formula 1 itself and it because evident who his favourite driver was: “Yeah I have been watching it. Mercedes have been extremely fast in qualifying; it’s a bit unfortunate for Lewis that they haven’t always got the race results. Silverstone was just so unlucky for him, but it would be nice to see Mercedes in the top spot by the end of the season.”
But discussing title predictions he added: “Vettel is the main at the minute so he will be extremely hard to beat. It should be interesting.”
So Jack Barlow is a name that you will probably noticed in the near future, he has shown fantastic race craft and speed over his first single-seater season so far but has a long way to go. Remember the name because if he continues to perform like he does now, he will be on his way through the ranks in no time.
Images courtesy of Octane Photographic