Max Hart: Irish racing prospect looks back on last season, and talks about his future plans

This year’s TCR UK Touring Car Championship had its first lights out in April, with Irish prodigy Max Hart picking up a double podium on the first weekend in Cheshire’s Oulton Park. Following a 4th place Driver’s Championship finish in the 2021 season, Hart came storming out of the gates, looking to claim his first championship. 

Another great weekend saw the Baltinglass native pick up back-to-back wins at Donnington Park, making him a hot contender for the Driver’s Championship. However, things soon began to turn, with his first retirement of the season coming in the 8th round at his return to Oulton Park. 

Despite having a great qualifying session, Hart was ordered to the back of the grid for the race start, along with a 10 second start penalty. As he fought his way through the pack, his car began to slow down, with a faulty sensor ending his race. 

His disappointing end to the 8th round started a trend, with Hart not finishing any of his next six races. Hart, alongside teammate Andy Wilmot, announced they would be leaving JamSport before the final round of the tournament.

“This year I started really well. I had wins and podiums, and poles. Then things started to go bad. I ended up having to leave JamSport.” 

Max Hart racing his JamSport Hyundai i30n; photo Courtesy of Max Hart

Despite his departure from TCR Championship, Hart is not short of options ahead of next season. The 2019 Motorsport Ireland Young Driver of the Year nominee says “what I know for sure, is that I’ll definitely be doing the GT Cup”.

“I’m making the switch from TCR to GT Cup. That’s with a sponsor and teammate of mine from this year. I’m really looking forward to that. That will probably be in a GT4 Mercedes, if not it’ll be a [Porsche] 991 Cup car.” 

Hart recently had the opportunity to test a new generation of Porsche GT Cup cars, with Duckhams Yuasa racing. While Hart looks forward to making the switch, he says he felt “at home” with the experience of driving the rear-wheel drive Porsche. 

“It was unbelievable… Rear-wheel drive is like my home. I’ve come from single-seater racing where the cars are all rear-wheel drive. It wasn’t something that was unknown to me, or that big of a surprise. It went fine, and I really enjoyed it. I just hopped in and went as fast as I could straight away.”

Hart also says he has had talks with Hyundai Motorsport, however, there is no concrete plan in place for next season. Hart is hopeful that he can make their Junior Driver Program, which includes EWRC driver and fellow Irishman Josh MacErlean – as well as TCR Championship rival Lewis Kent. 

Hart explained that he is “in deep talks with Hyundai at the moment to compete in TCR Europe.” He adds that “nothing has been confirmed yet,” and he will “only go if I can get into their Junior Driver program”.

Despite his plans for next season, Hart has not ruled out a return to open seated racing, although admits it is unlikely. The young hotshot has previously finished second in Monoposto Championship, while raking in 8 podiums out of a possible 14 in his Leastone 1000, including two wins. Before this, Hart had competed in – and won – the Irish Formula Vee Star of Tomorrow, in which he won 8 out of 12 races. 

Hart says that although he would be open to a return, the financial aspect of open market racing could hamper his chances. 

“If I could, and I knew I could get to the top, I would. The money side of stuff, I’m not going to say it’s impossible, but it’s very close to impossible, for me at my age to make it into Formula 1.”

Hart also acknowledged that his aim would be to reach Formula One, the pinnacle of open-wheel racing, by the age of 24. However, he says that it’s ‘unrealistic,’ and “that’s not my goal at all at the moment.”

“You have people that are in Formula 1 now, that are around my age, or a year older than me. I’d have to get into Formula 3, then get into Formula 2 and then Formula 1. I’d have to finish in the top three in both of those years, and then still I’d have to do more stuff to gain the super license points. I’d have to do an Asia Championship during the winter, just in the hopes that I would make it to Formula 1 before I turn 24… I could do a season in Formula 4, but it would be hard to raise the budget to get into Formula 3 or 2. You have to give money to the FIA as well, you’re talking just under €1 million to the FIA for Formula 3.”

While Formula One may not be on the agenda for Hart, the future still looks bright for one of Ireland’s best young driving talents.

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