Written By Juan Arroyo, Edited by Sameena Khan
Noah Lisle is the latest Australian driver set to feature in Formula 4 UAE. The 15-year-old has joined Xcel Motorsport to continue his development through the winter championship and will look to build upon last season’s experience in British and Spanish F4. It was a year of firsts for Lisle in various respects — one being racing away from home.
“It was a very big step up. To be against all the best young drivers in the world was really cool; it’s the first time I've really done that. I think the level was a lot higher. And it was a lot more professional as well, a lot more people watching. So it's just really cool to kind of do it and see it all for the first time.”
“I think the UK is actually quite similar to Australia in a lot of ways other than the weather. But Spain there's a lot of things that are different to Australia, like language and all that sort of thing. It took some learning, definitely at first.”
Lisle describes the switch from karts to cars as a multitude of new things a driver has to take on, from the heavier timetables of a race weekend in F4 to the technical aspects of the cars themselves.
“There’s definitely a lot of good things to take away from karts. But there's also so much to learn in cars. They're very different things. Karting definitely prepared me mentally and getting familiar with the processes of a race weekend, but there's still just so many more things to learn.
“It's just more technical. Gears, tyres are more complicated. Even just the simple stuff on a race weekend, there's just more to be involved in.”
The 15-year-old joined JHR Developments for the British and Spanish Formula 4 championships last season. He took his sole podium of the season in Thruxton while becoming a regular on the rookie podium over the course of the year. Lisle raced against Ugo Ugochukwu, Jesse Carrasquedo Jr, Noah Strømsted and more who will take part in this year’s F4 UAE championship.
“Obviously you change a little bit for different drivers. You've raced them before, you try to take what you've learned from racing them previous times. You definitely take a slightly different approach, but you guys treat everyone with respect on the track.”
On how other drivers would describe him: “I'd like to think quite fair, but hard. I'm definitely not a pushover, but I think that if you treat someone else with respect, they should treat you [with respect] as well. Yeah, fair but hard.”
Among his weaknesses, Lisle considers qualifying the strongest and says he has been working to eliminate it over the winter break.
“The race pace is always a lot further forward than where we've qualified, which is something to work on going into this [season]. Over the postseason we've worked on it and it's improved. There's no reason we can't keep building on that.
“I think my racecraft and race pace are definitely strengths as well. Tyre management is another strength. But I think the biggest thing to work on is going to be qualifying.”
Off the track, what helps a driver most is a sound support system around them, be it family, friends, or other connections made through motorsport. Thomas Toovey has been one of the key figures in the Australian’s career over the past year.
“There's a few people who've been instrumental in securing the opportunity with Xcel and helped me throughout last year. Tom Toovey who's helped me a lot, he's come over from Australia with me and he's helped me through a lot of the dealing with teams.”
Toovey, a fellow Australian, is an experienced man in the feeder series. He has previously served as a mechanic for the Carlin and Manor racing teams, as well as a race engineer for Fortec Motorsports.
“Callan O'Keeffe from School of Send has been really helpful. He's been doing all my driver coaching for the past year and a bit, so he's been really good. Simon Fitchett from CoFiGi Performance as well has really helped me maximise my mental performance.”
O’Keeffe, a former Red Bull and Lotus junior, competed in many feeder series before founding the School of Send to offer young drivers career advice and on-track coaching as they find their path in motorsport.
Lisle has no plans for the rest of 2023 confirmed yet and is concentrating on the season ahead with Xcel Motorsport.
“I'm gonna be racing F4 somewhere. I would say it comes over the next few weeks, I don't think it's very far off knowing what we're going to be doing."