11-year-old Jamaican makes motorsport history

Eleven-year-old Alex Powell made motorsport history earlier this year when he became the first Jamaican and Caribbean driver to be signed to a Formula 1 team – Mercedes-AMG F1.

However, the route to the sport’s top tier was only a recent desire, according to his father, John Powell.

Alex (right) poses with his father, John Powell. (Photos: Contributed)

“When we went to Europe and they saw the potential in him over there and Mercedes-Benz approached us, that then everything changed after that,” he said, noting that the deal was signed in March 2019.

“When we went to Europe and they saw the potential in him over there and Mercedes-Benz approached us.”

— Alex’s father, John Powell

While Alex might not follow in his father’s footsteps on to the gravel and tarmac rally stages of the world, John is more than happy with the direction his son’s motorsport career has taken.

In March, Alex Powell became part of the Mercedes-AMG F1 team junior driver programme.

“I’m extremely happy. It’s been a hell of a ride,” the proud father said.

For Alex, being part of Formula 1 has been his dream since he began karting in a Trinidadian parking lot at six years old.  

“My dad pushed me a little bit, but that’s something I wanted to do my whole life from the first time I went to a rally to see him race. I loved it from the first time I saw him driving, so I wanted to do that when I was older,” the preteen said.

From there Alex moved on to the rest of the Caribbean, the United States and Italy, racing under the Energy Corse banner.

It was his success with Energy Corse Racing in Europe that got him the attention of the current Formula 1 champions Mercedes-AMG F1.

Alex (left) receiving race advice from his driver coach and race mechanic, Juan Valderrama.

“It started from 2017 when the scout and the owner of Energy Corse Racing go-kart team saw Alex in Las Vegas. They asked us to come over to Europe and do a test in the spring of that year, which we did, and ever since then we’ve stayed with them,” his father said.

Alex (8) racing against Zidane Madden (777) at a recent Jamaica Karting Association race meet.

As part of the Mercedes-AMG F1 Junior programme, Alex should be able to secure better sponsorship opportunities as he continues to race in go-karts for the next three years. Once done with karts, he will enter the Formula 4 series and accelerate his climb into a Formula 1 seat.

“I move to Italy in September where I’ll start school in Monza. This will cut back on the travel,” Alex explained.

— Story by Nichola Beckford