Young Australian driver Luis Leeds has made a quick visit to his hometown of Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix, ahead of his debut in the MSA Formula in April.
The 16-year-old Melburnian now resides in the United Kingdom, and has spent the first portion of 2016 preparing for his MSA Formula campaign with Arden International.
“Testing’s been really good so far. Arden are the perfect team, they’ve got the car hooked up and all the drivers we get along really well,” Leeds said.
“For the first round, I want to of course prove a point, but I want to really make my mark and improve. I’m in this season to win it.”
After racing near identical machinery in the 2015 CAMS Jayco Australian Formula 4 Championship, Leeds expects the transition to the MSA Formula to be a smooth one.
“It’s adaptation really,” Leeds said.
“When you practice a certain craft over and over again, you build up excelling in a certain area. It gets harder, but it gets easier, it’s weird!
Despite the rise in profile after being signed by the Red Bull Junior Team at the conclusion of 2015, Leeds remains grounded and is solely focused on his 2016 campaign.
“Of course, every morning I wake up and I’m thankful for the opportunities that I’ve been given,” Leeds said.
“I try not to think about it too much because I don’t want to let my long-term goals affect my short-term goals.
“If I tick all the boxes and do everything right this year, then hopefully one day it will happen.
Making the move to the other side of the world has taken some adjustment for Leeds, but he had started to settle to his new surroundings.
“It is tough for sure, but I’ve got a really good family looking after me, it almost feels like home,” Leeds said.
“My friends and family are what keep me going through the days that I’m not racing. They remind me why I’m doing this, and what the goal I want to achieve is.”
Amongst Leeds’ racing commitments, he will also continue his education abroad.
“At the moment, racing’s a priority. The school is working around my schedule with racing, but I’ve still got to finish school. I’m in my final two years of schooling, but I guess it’s almost a backup really,” Leeds said.
To make the transition abroad easier for Leeds, some familiar names and faces from Leeds’ junior days have followed him over to Europe this year by coincidence.
“I think that’s the best part of being an Aussie, we’re always mates,” Leeds said.
“We’ve gone through go karting all the way up to our single-seaters, and even though I raced against Zane [Goddard] and Harry [Hayek], it’s good because we’re still mates and we catch up whenever we’re not racing.
“Same goes with Tom [Randle]. He lives two hours away yet we still see each other pretty much every weekend.
With Leeds’ first race at Brands Hatch merely weeks away, the Arden pilot is methodical in his approach but is confident of the skills that he possesses behind the wheel.
“Just ticking the right boxes and making sure you get everything covered,” Leeds said of his approach to 2016.
“You don’t want to overthink your race weekends. Racing is natural to me and I guess I have to do what I’ve already learnt throughout my five years of driving.”
The first round of the Ford MSA Formula Championship takes place on April 2–3 at Brands Hatch.