Jaden Conwright will join the Porsche Carrera Cup Italia (PCCI) with Dinamic Motorsport this year, as the rising American star seeks to carve out a professional career in GT racing following a successful apprenticeship in single-seaters – with promotion to the prestigious Porsche Motorsport Scholarship Programme in 2020 firmly in his sights.
Jaden Conwright is remaining level-headed as he prepares to make his debut in the inaugural F3 Asian Championship certified by FIA at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia this weekend (13-15 July), after lapping an encouraging second-quickest in the official pre-season test.
The first driver to commit to the all-new series back in May, the American teenager will compete for Absolute Racing behind the wheel of a high-performance, 270bhp single-seater, with a grid of 17 drivers representing ten different teams confirmed for the fast-approaching curtain-raiser. Conwright – a former World Speed Motorsports Rising Star Award recipient, rookie class podium-finisher in the fiercely-disputed Italian F4 Championship and Carlin Academy member – tested for Absolute Racing in Shanghai last winter, impressing the multiple race-winning outfit with both his strong work ethic and pace.
The 19-year-old carried that eye-catching form over to this week’s group test at Sepang, lapping inside the top four more often than not and placing an excellent second in the final session – arguably the most representative given that all competitors were on new tyres at the same time. The only driver to go quicker was Jake Hughes – a man with race-winning credentials in both the GP3 Series and FIA Formula 3 European Championship – leaving Conwright feeling quietly confident ahead of the opening round.
“It was good to finally be back at a race circuit as a driver, and now I can’t wait to return to the cockpit for the weekend,” the Californian enthused. “I’ve always followed Asian motorsport closely, and I’m really happy about what the FIA has managed to pull together in just a few months. The car looks amazing and the championship itself is going to be very competitive. The overall level of the teams is very high and most of the drivers have a lot of experience, with some of them arriving from really prestigious series.”
“That is a great source of motivation for me and for Absolute Racing. We share a common goal – since my first test with them, I had no doubt this was the best team for me at this stage in my career. They are ultra-professional and extremely structured and efficient, and we felt a great chemistry and synergy straightaway.
It’s still too early to fully assess where we are at the moment, but the team have been working like crazy to put the cars together so I’m pleased we didn’t encounter any issues during the test and now the guys can rest a little before the weekend. I literally cannot thank them all enough for the support they have given us. We spent the two days learning the car and seeing how it behaves in different weather conditions. There were some ups-and-downs, but at the end we managed to produce some good performances, which is obviously positive. It was cool to see my name in second position between drivers like Jake Hughes and Raoul Hyman, but this is only testing and we need to keep our feet on the ground.
I will enter the first race weekend aiming for a strong result, but not expecting it. The championship will be very strong and very close, so remaining focussed and continually looking for ways to improve will be the best approach. There are a lot of uncertainties with a brand new series and a new car, but the objective has to be to hit the ground running from day one.”
The 2018 F3 Asian Championship will take in 15 races spread across five rounds – to be held at Sepang as well as China’s Ningbo International Speedway and Shanghai International Circuit between now and the end of November.
The region’s first F3 series to be officially sanctioned by world motorsport’s governing body will form part of the FIA’s new open-wheel ladder of progression, with the top eight drivers in the final standings all earning points towards qualification for a Formula 1 superlicence. In evidence of its stature, competitors will accrue the same number of superlicence points as their counterparts in the likes of the DTM, Super GT and World Touring Car Cup.
Having nurtured Conwright through the formative stages of his career in America and Europe, Williams-Harfield Sports Group Director Chris Harfield is convinced that his highly-rated young protégé has what it takes to make a real name for himself in the burgeoning new series.
“We were already considering a programme in Asia for Jaden in 2018, and when we heard about the inaugural F3 Asian Championship, we had no doubts this was the path to take,” he explained. “The new engine and chassis package is a big step forward for the series, and championship organiser Top Speed has demonstrated a solid understanding of the motorsport industry.
The FIA has pushed a lot with this project and we believe we will see more and more drivers and teams racing in this part of the world. The Asian market is currently booming and we haven’t yet seen its full potential.
Since we started working with Jaden, he has grown and developed both on and off the track and we cannot wait for this exciting new adventure to begin. During the last two years, Jaden focussed on the consistency of his performances, while always aiming higher. Collaborating with top-flight teams and organisations has given him the opportunity to compare himself against some of the best junior drivers in the world and he is ready for this next chapter.”
“A new championship always brings with it new challenges, but we are confident that both Jaden and Absolute Racing have the hunger and determination to make this season a success.”
The inaugural F3 regional Asian championship calendar includes 15 races – three at each of the five rounds – at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit, and China’s Ningbo International Speedway and the Shanghai International Circuit.
The season will kick start with an official test on July 9 and 10 in Sepang. Commenting on joining the team Jaden Conwright said:
“I can’t thank Ingo, Fabien, and the entire Absolute Racing team enough for the wonderful opportunity to compete in the inaugural F3 Asian Championship certified by FIA! From the first time we worked together there was great synergy and atmosphere. We all strived for the same goal. Absolute Racing’s professionalism allowed me to improve my driving in a very structured and efficient manner. There are a lot of uncertainties with a brand-new championship and a new car, but there’s no doubt that Absolute Racing and I will be ready to hit the ground running from day one at Sepang.”
Ingo Matter, Team Director, added,
“We are delighted to announce Jaden Conwright as our first Formula 3 Asian Championship driver. When he tested with our Formula Masters Series car in Shanghai, Jaden’s display and professional approached impressed everyone. With his speed never in doubt, our goal is to provide him with the necessary tools to be able to battle for the top positions in every race.”
Jaden Conwright has set his sights on graduation to the Mazda Road to Indy in 2018, after demonstrating ‘dedication and maturity beyond his years’ during the course of a promising testing programme with single-seater powerhouse Carlin.
Conwright stepped up from karting to car racing in 2014, and after competing in the Italian F4 Championship last season – tallying 12 top ten finishes in the rookie class – the highly-rated young American joined the prestigious Carlin Academy this year. To-date, he has conducted four tests for the British outfit as a member of its Driver Development Programme, putting Carlin’s BRDC British F3 car through its paces at Snetterton, Rockingham and Pembrey and progressing consistently with each run – to the extent where he posted the quickest lap time in South Wales.
“All of the tests have gone well,” affirmed the San Francisco Bay Area, California-born ace. “Even on a dirty and congested track, my first day at Snetterton was a perfect opportunity to shake down the F3 car and slowly dip my feet into the concept of driving a downforce car, which is much faster than what I have been used to before.
Rockingham went even better and provided me with a great basis for what I needed to improve on before heading to Pembrey. The two days there offered the perfect environment to learn more about the British F3 car, because it’s a very short and technical circuit and we got a lot of clear laps in.
I was also able to compare my data with that of Carlin’s British F4 driver, Patrik Pasma, which was essential in helping me to understand the strong and weak points in my driving. By the end of the two days at Pembrey, I had a much better grasp of how to drive the F3 car and a lot more confidence to rely on its downforce through the high-speed corners.”
Conwright’s burgeoning momentum and admirable approach to his apprenticeship have rapidly endeared him to Carlin, a team whose illustrious alumni include the likes of Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg, Daniel Ricciardo, Will Power, Sébastien Buemi and António Félix da Costa.
“We were pleasantly surprised by Jaden’s progress at Pembrey since his last visit to Carlin,” revealed the squad’s BRDC British F3 Chief Engineer, Mark Owen. “Immediately we noticed that he was more focussed, and with that comes more determination and drive“.
“Of course there is more work to be done, and in future tests we will concentrate on the finer details of both throttle and brake application in the high-speed corners, but it was a good couple of days. It gave us a fantastic opportunity to develop Jaden’s driving skills still further, and I’m sure his confidence will have been boosted by setting the fastest time of the test.”
“Jaden is the perfect Carlin Academy candidate – planning ahead for the next stage in his career to ensure he is in the best possible shape,” added the initiative’s Director, Trevor Carlin. “His dedication and maturity are beyond his years and his progress on-track has been very impressive. We have a detailed test programme to work through with him into the autumn, and I’ve no doubt he’ll be a great prospect for the 2018 season, whichever series he chooses.”
On the subject of the future, Conwright is evaluating a return back across the Pond to participate in the Pro Mazda Championship, the second tier on the well-established Mazda Road to Indy ladder. Inspired by Williams Harfield Sports Group’s success with Jack Hawksworth and Ed Jones, the 18-year-old is bidding to follow in their wheeltracks by forging his own path to the pinnacle of US open-wheel competition.
“Carlin is a world-class team, and the opportunity to work with them has been extremely helpful,” he acknowledged. “Moving from an Italian to a British team was a change, but I feel like I’ve settled in nicely and Carlin’s wealth of knowledge has been very beneficial to me. Over the remainder of 2017, the plan is to continue to improve my driving and understanding of the BRDC British F3 car and hopefully get the chance to contest the Autumn Trophy.
As for 2018, the option to go back to the States in Pro Mazda with the new Taatus-built chassis is a great possibility. The experience I’ve gained from driving the British F3 car – coupled with WHSG’s proven MRTI record with Jack and Ed – gives me a strong base from which to enter the championship and to pursue my ultimate goal of becoming a professional driver in the Verizon IndyCar Series and racing in the Indianapolis 500.”