Mika Abrahams (15) couldn’t have imagined how a Formula One Xbox game would translate into real laps around a racetrack so quickly in his young life. “One minute I was playing Xbox at a friend’s house. Then, I asked my dad how I could become a F1 driver, so he took me to test a kart. I put my foot down on the accelerator and … I was in love with the sport!” is how he describes it.
Today he is the first South African (and African) to win a F4 race at age 14.
“It’s no wonder. As we said, the bug bit Mika early,” says Adrian Scholtz, CEO of Motorsport South Africa. “At age nine, he started 4-stroke karting, moving to a 2-stroke Micro Max karting the following year. Just a year later, Mika joined RKT to start racing Mini Rok and Mini Max. He achieved 12 podiums that year and raced in Italy – an extraordinary leap forward for such a young racer.”
Italy was indeed a massive leap for Mika, who decided he needed to race there full-time to pursue a career in motorsport and get noticed.
“In 2020, we decided to race full-time in Italy, in the 60 Mini category in the WSK series. WSK was a huge success, especially the third round at Lonato, where I qualified last and started last in each heat due a mechanical problem. I still secured a position in the finals (top 34/108).”
Unfortunately, because Covid-19 I had to stop karting in Italy so I spent the rest of the year dedicated to testing to become better and stronger.”
Mika raced his first full season in Italy in 2021.
“At the beginning of the year, I raced with Formula K and with Koski Motorsport in the latter part of the year, both in the OK-J category. I had relative success, either finishing inside or just outside of the top 10.
“The FIA World Karting Finals in Campillos, Spain, is where I decided to end my karting career due to a tyre issue experienced by the organiser’s. In the practice sessions I was in P2 but dropped to P67 in qualifying.”
“I started 2022 by racing the Inex Legends class in South Africa to prepare me for whatever I decided to do on main circuit, overseas. In March I signed with FSP Motorsport for the Danish Formula 4 championship.
It was an amazing breakthrough season for me, finishing the championship with nine podiums, two wins and two fastest laps and finishing third despite missing the first round (three races) due to my age. “
“My best accomplishment was breaking the all-time lap record for F4 at Sturup Raceway, and the youngest African to win in F4 on debut.”
It was then that things really took a turn for the young racer. He had well and truly been noticed by the mainstream F4 teams. His journey to England was underway.
“I signed with Fortec Motorsports in the ROKiT British F4 championship in January. Since I was not yet 15 years old, I had to miss out on the first three rounds (nine races). “
“It was a great rookie year for me, scoring points consistently from debut and being the first African to score a double pole position at the previous F1 Donington track, where Ayrton Senna did his famous “Lap of the Gods” in 1993. I also got a podium and fastest lap for that race weekend,” a beaming Mika recalls.
The European racing scene was an out-of-this-world experience for Mika.
“It is incomparable. The field of drivers is much bigger, the level of drivers is so much higher, the tracks are world class, and the competition is a lot tougher in Europe. The atmosphere in Europe is amazing, 60,000 fans come to watch compared to the smaller crowds in South Africa. Racing in Europe is truly a great spectacle,” he says.
Schoolwork has not taken a backseat, as Mika finely balances his education behind a desk with that on the track by completing pre-made lessons at the start of the year.
He’s already achieved his dream career..
“It is an incredible goal to chase not only for myself but to inspire the future generations of South Africa and kids around the world. I want to show people that any person regardless of race, culture, religion, and what the person is limited to, that they can chase their dreams and achieve it. Being in Formula one has been a long-term goal of mine so being able to say I’ve achieved that goal is a lifelong dream.”
“NEVER GIVE UP. Work hard and have fun whilst doing it. Listen to your parents as they want nothing but the best for you. Cherish every moment, the good and bad cause you can always take something away from it. There is no such thing as a bad day out as long as you learn from it, you’ll always win. NEVER stop believing,” is his advice to aspiring racers.
ISSUED ON BEHALF OF MOTORSPORT SOUTH AFRICA BY CATHY FINDLEY PR
Photography by: Jakobebrey