An unexpected twist led Alex Berg down a 2022 path he wasn’t anticipating.
WORDS Richard S. James | IMAGES Gavin Baker/F4 United States Championship
Alex Berg wasn’t really expecting to be in the SCCA Pro Racing-sanction Formula 4 United States Championship Powered by Honda in 2022, it just kind of happened. Competing in Spec MX-5 Challenge in 2021, the opportunity arose when one of his partners, Jevitty Life Science, was involved with Doran-Kroll Racing and brought them together.
“It’s not actually something that I was working on last year,” Alex says. “I wasn’t really thinking I was going to be in F4 this year. It really is something that came off in December. I’ve had some formula car experience driving, but I’ve never actually raced a formula car. So it’s been a really good opportunity for me to learn different steps going higher up the racing ladder, and formula cars is definitely something I’m going to need to learn now or later.” It’s worked out pretty well; Alex had a trio of podiums in six races and was sixth in the points going into the Mid-Ohio rounds. Berg’s previous formula car experience comes primarily from the Tatuus Formula Renault 1600s run by his father’s race school, His father, Allen Berg, is a former racing driver who made it to Formula 1 and started his racing school after retiring from driving. Alex also has some experience in Formula F cars, as well as an Elan DP02 prototype. But after his first real outings racing the Formula 4 car, he likes what he’s experienced so far.
Seizing an Opportunity
As recently as December, the F4 United States Championship wasn’t in Alex Berg’s plans. But relationships landed him in Doran-Kroll Racing’s F4 car (LEFT), and he’s already made the podium (BELOW LEFT) three times – definitely cause for celebration with mother Erika and father Allen (BELOW RIGHT).
“It’s a really reliable car, it’s nice and simple. It’s difficult to drive in a lot of different aspects. I’d say it doesn’t have enough downforce to really plant the car going down through the corners. But as well it’s not lacking in any mechanical grip. It’s a difficult car to drive if you drive it very much on the edge of the tire. I’ll use the term dancing around a little bit with this car. And I’m really happy with the series personally, I think it’s put on by some great people like Tony Parella and Scott Goodyear. It feels extremely professional and I feel like I’m racing with a great group of people who know how to put on races,” he explains.
The F4 is a sizable step from a Spec MX-5 that Alex continues to compete in, which is based on the third-generation MX-5 with a lot of components borrowed from the first-generation MX-5 Cup car. Given that, Berg is not at all disappointed in how he’s performed so far.
“I’m very happy with how we’re doing [in F4]. I think the competition is just really good – I’d say best in the United States at this level of formula car racing. I don’t think you could get any better than this, other than the [SCCA Pro Racingsanctioned] FR Americas series. I think F4 is a great way to teach drivers, and I use that word teach, because I think from the first day that I stepped into a Formula 4 car at the first event at NOLA Motorsports Park, from that point, I think F4 has helped me massively improve as a driver. I have a lot more confidence as well,” Alex says.
One challenge arises from the fact that in F4, Doran-Kroll Racing only runs the one car for Alex, alongside a three-car FR Americas effort. He’s one of the few in the series that doesn’t have a teammate. That means no one with whom to directly compare performance or data, and that can be a bit of a disadvantage. But he also finds some help in instructing at some of the schools for his father. Not only does he get to meet a lot of new people, but constantly watching other drivers and what they do right and wrong he says has helped him pick out things in his own driving. “There’s a saying that coaching always helps the coach, which is 100 percent true,” he laughs.
Like many of his peers in Formula 4, Alex would love to keep moving up the ladder into F1. He feels he has an advantage, though, through his father’s experience – and learning from the mistakes that his father made.
“I learned from him what to do and maybe what not to do, how important some things might be vs. others,” he elaborates. “A lot of it is off-track. I work as hard as I can off track so I don’t have to work as hard on track. My mind can be relieved … I don’t need to worry about performing or giving results. I don’t work well under stress, I feel like I need to be relaxed. I get to perform more at my peak because I’m not under stress of needing to perform.”
This article was originally published on https://www.sportscarmag-digital.com/sportscar/july_august_2022/MobilePagedReplica.action?pm=2&folio=54#pg54
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