Callum Voisin became the first confirmed driver for the 2022 GB3 Championship in November, joining inaugural Teams’ Champions Carlin.
The 15-year-old Swiss-British driver took seven wins and four further podiums in Ginetta Junior on the way to sixth in his maiden car racing campaign with R Racing.
Despite a 70-point deduction at Snetterton for a camtiming irregularity, Voisin did enough on the British Touring Car Championship support programme to draw Carlin’s attention and admiration from across the paddock.
That brought an F4 British Championship test with the Farnham outfit in summer, and the rest is history.
The Checkered Flag caught up with Voisin four days after he was announced at Carlin.
“My first race was in France in 2016, in a Rotax Mini Max,” he said.
“There weren’t many people on the grid, but I managed to finish third somehow. I think there were only five or six on the grid so it was a podium, but not really!”
He might only have been racing for five years, but he already has a couple of significant career highlights.
“The round at Brands Hatch in Ginetta Junior where I took pole for, and won all three races would have to be up there.
“My first national karting win at the British Championships in 2019 is up there as well.”
Though Voisin was announced as a Carlin driver in November, he worked with the team for much of the season, spending time in the outgoing Tatuus F4-016.
“I’ve done a few testing days. I was at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps a few weeks ago, and I did a day at Silverstone in August.
He added he’s “been doing quite a bit” of simulator work during the 2021 season.
“I use Pro-Sim who have really good software. The feedback you get is very similar, obviously it’s never exactly the same because that would be near-impossible but it’s as close as you can get.
“With the sim, you get the feedback from the wheel but nothing through the seat or anything else. Considering that, I think it works really well.”
Those simulator sessions have replicated the F4-016’s characteristics, while teams await delivery of the incoming MSV-022.
“We’re working on trying to find the full 2022 specification but I don’t think that will be out until the actual car comes out. So we haven’t tried the new car yet but it’s not going to be too different anyway.
“More power and more downforce means it should even out driving-wise, but apart from that it’s mostly the same car with a halo.”
In Carlin, Voisin joins the reigning Drivers’ and Teams’ Champions, the Farnham team having won four of the last five Drivers’ Championships. He spoke glowingly about the impression they had made on him.
“This is my first time in the single-seater world, but since my first test with them, the amount of detail they go into with the drivers, how much work they do, is more than I’ve ever experienced.
“The amount you work on every time you come in from a session, you write down what you thought about it and go through video which is all really good. The feedback is amazing, that’s what’s been particularly different.”
TCF put to him the suggestion that Carlin’s interest came from his success in front of their British F4 team in the BTCC paddock.
“I’m really thankful to Edge Sporting Management for sorting this all out. There were a couple of different things, I had that problem at Snetterton and was debating whether to switch over and maybe do a different series.
“I managed to get a test in Carlin’s British F4 car at Pembrey which went really well, but we eventually decided to carry on with Ginettas and learn as much as we could from it.
“Then I got a test in the GB3 car which also went really well and we decided on that and kept working towards that.”
The first confirmed driver on the 2022 grid weighed in on his preparation for his first season in single-seaters.
“I’ve already been to Silverstone GP and Spa in the GB3 car, and next week I’m going to Oulton Park and Donington Park.
“Spa’s good fun. When I went there it was raining a lot but it was still really enjoyable to drive.”
He noted that the level of detail his track walks go into “depends on how much time we get.
“If we don’t have time [for a track walk], we’ll just do road car laps, trying to point out any damp patches or anything like that, especially during the winter, as it’s usually a bit wet in the UK!
“I just like to go around and see what’s changed, if they’ve moved a barrier slightly. It’s probably better to see it when you’re walking than when you’re driving, so I quite like going around because you get to see everything from a different perspective.
“That’s how we prepared for Ginettas in stepping up from karting. That part of the process [has] always stayed quite regular.”
Further to that preparation, Carlin’s new charge added he’d had to adapt his pre-race ritual over 2021.
“Usually I always step in the car from the left, but in Ginetta Juniors I couldn’t do that because it was a right-hand drive car!
“I had to ditch that last year, but in karting I used to do it from the left so I’ll probably carry that on [in GB3].”
Of course, there’s a much larger-scale change to come to terms with for 2022: the move to single-seaters itself.
With several test days in F4 and GB3 machinery already under his belt, Voisin felt qualified to talk about how he’s adapting his driving to suit an entirely new discipline.
“Compared to the Ginetta it’s completely different.
“You’ve got a lot more grip, slicks and wings, the whole aero side is still very new to me.
“It’s quite interesting because in Ginetta Juniors you learn to put the car in the perfect position so you can fire off the exit.
“In GB3 you’ve still got to do that and be pinpoint perfect, but you’re working with the aero.
“The faster you go, the more grip you have which is completely against what you’ve learnt over the last couple of years of driving.
“You’re focusing on keeping up the corner speed instead of squaring it off.”
The transition from Ginetta Juniors to GB3 is a well-trodden path in recent years, with 2020 champion Tom Lebbon continuing at Elite Motorsport after a debut campaign yielding a podium at Donington.
The reigning GB3 champion, Zak O’Sullivan took a similar path, finishing second in both the 2019 Ginetta Junior season and in British F4 in 2020, before his crowning season in 2021.
Ginetta Juniors’ most recent graduate was coy on his chances at this early stage, but recognised his positive position on paper.
“It’s really early, I’m the only driver announced at the moment.
“I’m not really focusing on [the title], but there’s no reason why we can’t be up there.
“I’m with one of, if not the best team on the grid and I’ve got testing scheduled for the next couple of months.”
His family’s racing stock is rising, with older brother Bailey Voisin winning the 2021 GT4 European Series after finishing second in the 2020 Ginetta Junior Championship, the pair both competing with R Racing.
Callum explained his decision to pursue single-seaters, despite sibling success.
“After that first test in the F4 car, it was all about trying to sort something in a single-seater. There wasn’t really anything more than that.
“I have nothing against GT racing, I think it’s also really good, but the single-seater probably suits me a little more. It’s a bit more nimble, a bit lighter.
“A lot of things changed after Snetterton,” he admitted.
“We were already looking ahead to next year by June, which was really early.”
The GB3 Championship will welcome the Tatuus MSV-022 for next season, and Voisin believes that change might help first-year drivers “to a certain extent.
“It’s a new car, but then half of it’s new and half of it’s the same.
“If there is a year where the first-year drivers will be more evenly-matched then it’s probably going to be next year.”
Our conversation turned to the enthralling Formula 1 World Championship title fight as the battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen entered the final few rounds of the longest season on record.
“I never really had posters on the wall, but initially I always [supported] Lewis in that 2016, 2017 time when he was winning pretty much everything.
“Now, it’s probably Lando Norris or someone like that. It’s not that I look up to them or anything like that, but there are drivers I support more than others.
“I guess, in theory so far my path has been very similar to Lando. He did karting, then Ginetta Juniors for a year. I think he might have done British F4 [won the title in 2015], but the pathway is more or less similar to what he’s done.
Ahead of Formula 1’s first-ever visit to the Losail International Circuit, Voisin couldn’t call it with three rounds remaining.
“I think possibly Verstappen? It’s really tight. At the moment they’re inseparable; there’s nothing splitting them.
“I do think the Red Bull‘s slightly quicker this year, with some exceptions. I’ll say Verstappen unless Lewis can pull off a really good last few races.
“[In the Brazil Sprint Race] Lewis was on fire. If he can drive like that for the rest of the season I’d probably go for Lewis, but you can’t really predict the future in that sense.
“I think we’re coming to a few Mercedes circuits to close the season, with a lot of straight-line speed, so we’ll see how it goes.
“It’s the first time in quite a long time we’ve had a clear title fight between two different teams.
“You could probably say 2018 was a bit like this, but it wasn’t as close. I think it’s probably the most exciting season to watch in quite a long time.”
This interview was conducted prior to the 2021 Qatar Grand Prix.