For any athlete, competing professionally at 18 years old is perplexing. One may face the pressures of inexperience—and that will not help in furthering one’s career, especially in the motorsports scene. This particular sport requires grueling training and perfect preparation. For any racer, there is a need to stay in optimum shape mentally and physically while ensuring one’s safety in the racetrack.
In the journey to reach Formula 1 (F1), aspiring racers would need enough exposure and clientele to reach the top. With the Philippines not being known as an environment for motorsports, it is a daunting challenge for aspiring athletes.
However, Filipino racer Eduardo Coseteng was always up to the task—dominating local and international karting competitions over the years while bagging the 2018 International Senior Karter of the Year during the 16th Annual Golden Wheel Awards. Coseteng’s remarkable success led him to become the first ever homegrown Filipino to race in the Formula 4 (F4) British Championship. Now, he aspires to reach the grand stage of F1.
As of writing, Coseteng is set to race for Hitech GP in the 2022 F4 British Championship this April, after leaving his previous team—Argenti Motorsports—which helped him place 12th overall in the last season.
Coseteng’s father, Filipino motorsports legend Jody Coseteng, was the main reason for his exposure to racing. At just eight years old, Coseteng started racing professionally on the track his father competed on. However, it was ultimately his decision to set his sights on a career in racing. He shares, “Despite all of this exposure to motorsports, it was me really who had the desire to race professionally and [pursue] this as a career.”
His journey started at the Champions of the Future Karting Clinic, an event for beginner racers organized by veteran racecar driver JP Tuason. Looking back, Coseteng expresses, “It was held at the Carmona race track in Cavite and it was a spectacular event. They don’t do the clinic anymore but they should soon.” He reminisces, “It was truly a great experience.”
It was at this event where Coseteng first faced the strenuous experience of motorsports. “The only challenging part at the start was how peculiar the sport really is; [one needed] the knowledge and logic of how a race kart works with all the hand-eye coordination,” Coseteng shares.
He also had to face another trial: balancing his endeavors as a beginner while also racing at a young age. “I had to sacrifice a lot, migrating to a different country at 14 years old. Many years of my childhood have just been [spent on] racing so I haven’t really had the time to go out and make friends.” The racer also added that school was not an easy endeavor, “I was always absent in class because I was always at the racetrack practicing and racing.”
But given the weight of racing in Europe, it is imperative that Coseteng remains focused throughout his journey. “Other challenges throughout my career were racing all across the world from Asia to Europe. I was far from home and on a different playing field,” he voices out. Due to this setup, there is also the concern about physical health, to which Coseteng comments on, “Another challenge was conditioning and training when I am away from the racetrack. Strength and endurance is a heavy factor [in] what makes a great racing driver.”
Joining the race
Refusing to rest on the laurels of his post-F4 debut, Coseteng commits to reaching the peak of racing, “I obviously would love to reach F1 and win. That is the number one goal. I wouldn’t take the first step of the ladder just to not go all the way and reach the pinnacle.” His determination to be among the best drivers in motorsport and, more importantly, his passion to succeed at a complex industry is something to be admired from an 18-year old.
The Philippines has yet to witness a homegrown racer compete in F1 and Coseteng recognizes this, “I will try my very best to wave the Filipino flag high with pride in F1.”
The whole Formula racing process requires countless hours of training in and out of the cockpit, and Coseteng is very much aware that success is not guaranteed. Moving up the ranks of Formula racing can be intimidating to those who aspire to be a future F1 driver as not everyone moves up the totem pole. Hence, a lot of preparation is required to win a single race, let alone to perform consistently throughout an entire season.
Coseteng shares that his career has faced struggles due to a lack of opportunities in the Philippines. However, the rising popularity of motorsports might bring along a change of gears. Many Filipinos have shown an interest in motorsports, especially in F1. With widespread media coverage in the past years, especially after the sudden rise of Netflix’s Drive to Survive special, the sport has amassed an abundance of supporters from across the globe. He quips, “The Filipino F1 fans are currently growing at an extreme rate, which is good. It creates more awareness on how motorsport racing is an actual sport and is currently one of the most difficult sports out there.” The young Filipino racer also wishes that the sport’s popularity spurs the introduction of racing to younger generations, ushering in efforts to develop young talent in the country.
With Southeast Asian countries like Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand having previously hosted an F1 Grand Prix (GP), there has been talk about the Philippines hosting a race of its own in the near future. Back in 2019, Formula 1 filed a trademark for the Philippine Grand Prix, suggesting that a race in the country is within the realm of possibility. “In my opinion, having a Philippine GP is a good idea. It [is] a good tourist attraction for the drivers, team, staff,” says Coseteng. Aside from being a tourist hotspot, locals would also be given the opportunity to be involved in the one-of-a-kind experience.
However, hosting a GP would require the construction of a Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile-approved track that would be costly. But the upside could justify the hefty price for organizing such a race. Should the idea to locally host a GP materialize, Coseteng mentions that he hopes to one day have a home circuit to race at as an F1 driver.
Raising the flag
Motorsport is notorious for being expensive, and developing a grassroots program for aspiring drivers can be difficult, especially in our country. Currently, most successful F1 drivers come from first-world countries and are backed by strong funding from their families or sponsors. Gathering the financial resources and support may be arduous at first glance but at the current pace of the growing interest in motorsport in the country, opportunities are likely to arise in coming years.
“One way to help the Philippines [in] taking the next step to develop talent locally is to invest in drivers and send them to Europe to train and compete with the best, so they can eventually learn from them and beat them,” Coseteng concludes.
There are high hopes that the Philippines will soon have more racers carrying the flag. The journey to the starting line may be a dogfight, but until then, up-and-coming racers are ready to go full throttle.