AFTER a challenging end to the FIA Karting calendar at the World Championships in Sarno, Italy, on September 15 through 18, karter Alex Powell is looking ahead in his motorsports career.
"It was quite a challenging weekend, with luck not always on our side," Powell told his fans via social media.
Despite finishing just shy of the podium in fourth, a time penalty for a sporting incident saw him categorised as 12th at the end of the event. While Powell didn't meet his goal of winning the overall title, he's already been able to taste his next move beyond karting, single-seaters, on his way to a potential Formula One drive as part of the Mercedes-AMG F1 junior driver programme.
"I'm trying to make my way up the ranks to hopefully reach Formula One," Powell told the Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine on his recent visit to the island.
He also revealed that he'd done some testing in a single-seater as preparation for his eventual transition from karting to the upper ranks of motorsport.
"Now is the time when I'm getting to the age where the transition is getting closer and closer. I believe we might make the transition in 2024 to cars, but you know testing and preparation starts way before then," he said.
His single-seater driver was done a few weekends before his trip to Jamaica. His takeaway from the experience was that things happen a bit slower in comparison to karting as the size of the circuits and the difference in the braking behaviour of a single-seater are factors one has to consider.
"It's a completely different world in cars compared to go-karts, so you have to be ready for all the challenges coming your way. You have to be ready for the hiccups. You have to be mentally and physically prepared. This takes a lot of confidence — not just in yourself but the team you're with," he said.
Karting is recognised as the breeding ground for Formula One talent and sees the next rung in the ladder — a Formula series — using larger, more powerful, single-seater, purpose-built race cars. Powell would graduate next to Formula 4, in which he had his recent test, and progress through F3, F2, and into F1. Bajan Zane Maloney, another driver of Caribbean heritage, has been on this path. He won the 2019 British F4 champion and was runner-up in the now-completed 2022 F3 Championship.
There has been a lot of activity in the lower Formula ranks for 2022 as former F2 champion Nyck de Vries made a very successful debut in F1, with other F2 drivers Jack Doohan, and Oscar Paistri in talks with various F1 teams. This connection with the highest level of circuit racing is what every driver in the lower Formula series want to exploit.
When asked about the key to his success, Powell explained the following.
"You need to make sure you're giving it your 110 per cent all the time to really maximise the most you can get out of each category as you go up, because the more you learn in a lower category it might come in handy when you reach, for example, Formula 2," he said.