Sheffield sixth former makes his British F4 debut

It’s been an exhilarating journey for Sheffield’s racing superstar Rowan Campbell-Pilling.

The Birkdale Sixth Form student made his British Formula 4 debut at the end of April following a successful 12-year karting career.

South Yorkshire’s only F4 racer, Rowan signed with Argenti Motorsport in November – a month before he turned 17. By the time he took his driving test, he was already a whizz behind the wheel, having covered thousands of miles and reached speeds of 150mph.

We spoke to him ahead of his first F4 race at Donington to hear how he’s on-track to become one of the next big names in motorsport.

Rowan started racing as a toddler, first with trials bikes, competing up and down the country most weekends.

“It all started with a love for being outdoors. We’re fortunate that we live close to the Peak District so as a family we were always outside. A family friend had an indoor track in Pontefract that we went to one day. I fell in love with four-wheel racing and have never looked back,” he says.

His parents bought a bambino kart when he was five and Rowan naturally progressed through the cadet, junior and senior series, with podium finishes and trophies at all levels.

He’s competed in the IAME X30 and exclusive Daniel Ricciardo Series, launched by the Australian F1 star. Aged 14, he became the youngest ever winner of the UK Junior Karting Championship.

While karting is a raw type of racing, low to the ground with no cockpit to enclose the driver, F4 is more like being in a mini F1 car – just with smaller tyres and engine. Over the last year, he’s been one of only 40 young drivers in the country testing single-seater cars and is part of Motorsport UK’s 2024 Academy line-up.

Rowan says that, after testing with a multitude of different teams, Argenti felt like the perfect fit.

“Driving around in funny shaped circles is just a small part of it. I’m thankful to be supported by such a great team at Argenti. They have helped me adapt to the F4 car quickly to maximise my potential and they know how to get a good car under you.

“With the on-track training, I’m out at the sharp end most of the time. We’re in a good place, both me and my teammate Cui, and we’ve come on leaps and bounds in terms of development and driving.”

The off-track prep is also fast paced. Rowan spends around two hours a day in the gym, with lots of running and cardio to keep his weight down along with strength training for his mobility. He also practices mindfulness and meditation to help him remain calm and focused while in the driver’s seat.

His racing career might be taking off, but he still puts his studies in pole position, studying art and design and technology A Levels at Birkdale.

“I’m a practical person and have been around tools and spanners all my life so D&T was a no-brainer for me. I’m a very creative person, but I’m also competitive and want to win every time, whether that’s at sport or academically. I always strive to be the best person I can be.”

With the ambition to work his way up to F1, Rowan is now excited to get his debut season underway and build on his experience.

“The discipline and motivation you get from racing can be applied to a lot of things. If you work your hardest and give 110 percent effort, it will work for you. I try to learn as much as I can, be a sponge and take it all in.”