Motorsport: Marcus Armstrong eyeing next Kiwi presence in Formula One

When Brendon Hartley broke into Formula One, it ended a 33-year wait for a New Zealander in motorsport's premier category.

Fresh from his first season in Formula 3, Kiwi driver Marcus Armstrong's aiming to ensure the wait for New Zealand's next isn't as long this time around.

The 18-year-old wants a go at motorsports top step and would take the chance with both hands if given the opportunity.

"Absolutely," Armstrong told Newshub.

"I'm very ambitious and I believe it's not that far away."

Armstrong raced his debut season in 2018 and found himself leading the series at the midway point.

Heading into the final weekend in third, he still had a chance to win the championship, but three retirements in three races ended those hopes.

Armstrong eventually finished the season in fifth place.

The Kiwi feels showing his competitors too much respect cost him the championship.

"If I could do it again I would do things a lot more different in the case that when they made contact with me well you're coming with me," Armstrong said.

"As a driver, I always like to show respect to the others on the track and that was one of my mistakes I think because when you collide you can make a decision whether or not to take the other guy with you. That’s something I should have done and I think the championship would have ended a lot more differently had I done that."

The Ferrari Academy driver will have extra motivation to show he's taken those lessons on board next season with the F3 championship racing on the same weekends and same circuits as Formula 1.

"There's going to be a lot of eyes on us as well not only from the grandstands but also from inside the paddock."

Those extra eyes are exciting for the Christchurch native.

"I always feel like the pressure is a good thing for me."

A strong finish will give Armstrong enough points to be eligible for an FIA Super License, a requirement to race in F1.

Armstrong has enough Super License points currently to drive in Free Practice but needs a handful more in order to be eligible to race in motorsports' premier category -not that he's counting them with every race.

"Never have I thought it's going to be the limiting factor.

"If you're good enough you'll have the points and you'll go to F1 anyway."

The Toyota Racing Series is another chance to acquire more points for Armstrong, with the winner awarded seven points towards their License.

That's not the motivation for Armstrong though, a chance to fine-tune his skills in the European off-season and race on the New Zealand tracks are. And to avenge the heartbreak of last year's result.

"I'm smiling now but at the time it was a bit of a disaster"

Armstrong led the series from the first weekend to the last in 2018.

Sitting in second place heading into the final lap of the series, the race started again under the safety car and Armstrong's overheating car failed to get going. He went from second to sixth and first to third in the championship.

"Unfortunately that’s what stopped us and the championship came down to such a small margin that that was the difference between first and P3"

Armstrong felt he was too conservative last year and promises to be more aggressive this time around.

The same mindset he'll need as he chases his F1 dream.


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