Carlin’s Jamie Caroline has solidified his place in the British Formula 4 history books already this season, and heads into the final round of the championship in prime position to take the title.
Now in his second season in F4, Caroline is set to follow in the footsteps of fellow Brit Lando Norris and add British F4 champion to his CV, already 67.5 points ahead of his closest rival. But a troubled second half of the year could still be Caroline’s undoing.
Caroline kicked off his championship campaign with a pair of wins in the opening round at Brands Hatch. The 18-year-old backed up his promise in preseason testing with a double pole in the first qualifying of the year, and went on to convert both into wins. Twice, Caroline built an enormous lead to the rest of the field and twice Oscar Piastri and Alex Quinn closed the gap, but couldn’t find a way past the race leader.
In the reverse grid race, Caroline could only manage fifth but it was still enough to put him at the top of the leader board, with a 19 point gap to Piastri and Ayrton Simmons in second.
Donington brought another strong weekend for the Pirtek backed driver.
Though he didn’t start on pole in race one, Caroline quickly swept past the pole-sitter and into the lead, eventually taking the win by more than five seconds.
Caroline would start sixth in the second race of the weekend, but a blinding start put him in the race lead by the end of lap one. Oliver York tried to catch Caroline after passing Patrik Pasma in second but could only close the gap to just over two seconds.
Starting second again for race three, Caroline dropped down the order on the opening lap. He finished 15th in the shortened race, in which only half points were awarded.
The two wins put him 40 points ahead of Piastri, a gap that would more than double at Thruxton.
Caroline made history at the Hampshire track, becoming the first driver to take a clean sweep of victories from a British F4 weekend.
The first came from a storm up through the field after dropping to seventh with an off-track exertion on the opening lap. With a series of spectacular overtakes Caroline was leading by the end of lap three, and finished 2.3s ahead of Quinn.
He matched the performance in race two, with a climb up from sixth o the grid. This time, he was chased over the line by Linus Lundqvist. Caroline beat the Double R driver after a close duel in the final las, taking his win total to six from eight races.
Caroline claimed another dominant victory in race three, winning by five and a half seconds after starting third. He became the first driver in history to take three wins from one weekend.
His win streak continued in the opening race at Oulton Park, but race two ended in disaster.
After a poor start dropped him down the order, Caroline collided with team-mate Pasma and was sent into the tyre barrier. It brought an early end to the race, which Piastri won, but Caroline was able to walk away from the incident.
As well as damage from the incident, Caroline left Oulton Park with a penalty which put him 12th on the grid for the first race at Croft. It was another difficult round for the championship leader, who finished fourth, seventh, and fifth across the three races. He headed into the summer break 67.5 points ahead of Piastri.
The frustration continued after the summer break, when Caroline finished eighth in the opening race at Snetterton. Luckily for the Carlin man, that put him on pole in the reverse grid. Caroline bounced back in race two, managing a safety car restart to take his ninth win of the season. He started ninth for race three but could only improve to seventh, allowing Piastri to continue to close the gap to a little over 45 points.
Another poor qualifying put Caroline on the backfoot for the opening race at Knockhill. He stormed up through the field to second, but a mistake after a safety car restart put the win out of reach.
On pole for the rescheduled Oulton Park race, Caroline was set for another dominant victory when the safety car was brought out towards the end of the race. Team-mate Logan Sargeant closed in on the championship leader and chased Caroline across the line, but he couldn’t stop him taking his 10th win of the season.
The troubles returned in race three, when a mistake dropped Caroline through the order and he finished sixth before a mechanical problem left him struggling in race four where he finished fifth.
A difficult qualifying put the Pirtek man on the backfoot at Rockingham, but in both the first and third races he climbed up to finish on the podium. Race two did not go to plan though, as Caroline collided with his title rival and was forced to pit to retire.
Caroline headed to Silverstone with a chance at taking the title, if he could outscore Piastri. But, despite a pair of second places, Caroline only took 48 points compared to 55 for Piastri.
Heading to Brands, the championship is Caroline’s to lose but he’ll have to beat Piastri and the problems that has plagued his second half of the season to follow in Norris’ footsteps.