4 May 2024

Queanbeyan nine-year-old sets sights on Ferrari F1 team, and he's well on his way

| James Coleman
Join the conversation

Canberra’s up-and-coming Lazarus Añonuevo at the wheel on the Mark Webber Circuit. Photo: MGMT Revolution.

Queanbeyan has given the world one of its greatest racing drivers and looks set to do it again.

We’ve all heard of Mark Webber – nine-time Formula-One Grand Prix winner, FIA World Endurance Champion, Porsche ambassador, Rolex ambassador, Red Bull athlete, Officer of the Order of Australia, TV pundit and public speaker.

But where it all began for Mark at the town’s indoor go-kart centre at the age of 12, Lazarus Añonuevo is already doing the same at age nine.

His family lives in Wamboin in the Queanbeyan-Palerang shire, and he attends the Bungendore Primary School. But Lazarus spent 45 weekends last year on the go-kart track, most of them at Canberra Kart Racing Club’s ‘Circuit Mark Webber’ near Queanbeyan.

READ ALSO New EV charger added to summer’s busiest highway

“When I was four years old, I watched this TV show called Drive to Survive,” he says.

“And all I wanted to do was be a race driver for the Ferrari F1 team.”

He’s well on his way.

Go-kart teams and drivers from across NSW and ACT met in Wagga Wagga and Canberra this year for the respective state championships. The winner of each class receives a blue number plate.

Lazarus Añonuevo holds the state titles for novice go-karting in the ACT and NSW. Photo: MGMT Revolution.

From 26 to 28 April, Lazarus beat all the competition in his class to score the NSW blue plate, which he added to the ACT blue plate he already had.

“We were told this is something that hasn’t been done in this class since forever,” his father Al Añonuevo says.

When Lazarus first told his parents, Al and Sarie, of his dream to join the Ferrari F1 team, they didn’t know where to start. However, after some research, they settled on go-karting.

But Lazarus couldn’t qualify for a practice licence until age six, so Al bought an electric go-kart, and the pair would go to a nearby park to practice whenever they could.

In action. Photo: MGMT Revolution.

“Every morning, we would go to a park so I could drive around in the kart,” Lazarus recalls.

“We tried to put him in pretty much every sport – basketball, tennis, swimming, dancing,” Al adds, noting Lazarus exercised every morning and “tried to be good with his diet by not eating too many lollies”. His parents also put together a simulator so he could race – and memorise – nearly every F1 track in the world.

At the Melbourne Grand Prix last year, he even set the record on the Ferrari simulator set up in Crown Towers.

READ ALSO Australian television’s best-known puppet retires to Canberra

Almost the very day he turned six, the family picked up a petrol go-kart from Wollongong, and the moment they were back, Lazarus was in his gear and on the track. In that very first session on the Mark Webber Circuit, he cracked the usual first-timer time by three minutes.

“Most first starters do the Canberra track in about four minutes, but Lazarus, by the end of his second session, was doing it in one minute and 10 seconds,” Al says.

And the records kept coming.

His first proper race was the Canberra Cup, when he started at the back of the pack as a P-plater. By the end of the race, however, he’d overtaken 10 competitors and finished third.

Celebrating victory with a shoeie. Photo: MGMT Revolution.

His trick is to watch the drivers ahead closer and overtake when they least expect it.

“When you’re behind them, you put pressure on them so they look back to see where you are, and when they look back, they slow down, and I can go on the inside and overtake them,” Lazarus says.

Lazarus drives a DR Kart with a restricted Vortex Mini Rok 60-cc engine that makes about six horsepower. He regularly reaches a top speed of 95 km/h on straights, enough to hold the record for Canberra and four other go-kart tracks around Australia.

One of Lazarus’ most avid supporters is his younger brother Legion-Ra. Photo: MGMT Revolution.

And yes, while supportive, his parents are frequently terrified.

“My heart is going a million miles an hour every single time he starts a race because that’s statistically when most accidents happen,” Al says.

Lazarus has received offers to race in Dubai and Portugal, as well as inquiries from teams and training academies across Australia. He plans to join Formula 4 when he’s of age, which serves as a feeder series for Formula 3 and, in turn, F1.

“The real next step is for him to develop and grow as a driver and hopefully get a few more high-profile races under his belt,” Al says.

“We’re hoping the invitation will allow him to race overseas over the next 12 to 18 months.”

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.