Australia Formula 4 driver Thomas Smith will have a busy year on the track after confirming his place in the Formula 3 Asian Championship with Pinnacle Motorsport.
Smith will continue to compete in the CAMS PAYCE Australian F4 Championship, as well as in Formula 3.
With the five-round F3 season to begin in Malaysia early next month, the Victorian is realistic on his chances in the Championship but is looking forward to the new challenge.
“I am really looking forward to it, because it looks like a great category, “Smith said.
“From what I have heard, the Asian cars are similar to what they run in Europe so it will be great to learn a new Formula and see how different it is to the Formula 4 cars.
“For this Formula 3 series, I am going in with no expectation. I am just going to try and learn as much as I can about the cars and have some fun.
“As much I would love to, I am not really expecting to win this year. But I am going in with an open mindset and I feel that the more laps you do always helps.”
Smith’s desire to join the Championship stemmed from the success of CAMS PAYCE Australian Formula 4 Championship graduate Liam Lawson who won the last year’s season finale in Singapore.
Inspired by his good friend, Smith then met with teams within the Championship and after much deliberation, decided to go with the Philippines-based team.
The Australian will be part of the Pinnacle Motorsport’s four-car charge and will be joined by Irishman Jordan Dempsey and Japanese duo Yu Kanamuru and Tairoku Yamaguchi.
While most of the drivers are already well underway in their preparation for the Championship, the 16-year-old’s lead up will be a little different to his rivals as he arrives in Malaysia this weekend.
With much less time to prepare than the rest of the field, Smith is well aware of his disadvantage but remains upbeat about the whole experience.
“We will be arriving there on Friday and will undergo our first major practice session on a $1 million simulator to learn the track this Sunday,” Smith explained.
“On Wednesday I will then get a proper test on the track and in the car, which is good because everyone else has done it but me, however it’s better late than never.
“Other drivers may have a little advantage over me but if I can learn the car as quick as I can, then I should be fine come race day.
“This Championship features some really good drivers including Jack Doohan but he is a fellow Aussie so hopefully I can learn some stuff on him and have a good start.”
Smith has already had some high profile racing in 2019, with the CAMS PAYCE Australian Formula 4 Championship acting as a support category in the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2019 for the first time ever and Smith ended the weekend with a mixture of results.
“The first round was a little disappointing and qualifying in 10th for races one and three made it very hard,” Smith added.
“In race two, I led the whole race but unfortunately I was penalised so it soured the weekend a little. I feel we can improve much more if we have a better qualifying session in the remaining rounds.
“This year my aim is to win the Australian F4 Championship and have a solid run in the Asian Championship.”
The Formula 3 Asian Championship begins at Sepang Circuit in Malaysia on 5-7 April.
The next round of the CAMS PAYCE Australian Formula 4 Championship takes place at the Shannons Nationals opening round on 15-17 May at Sydney Motorsport Park.