ROOKIE racing driver Oliver Webb will take the next step towards Formula 1 next season.

The Knutsford teenager has will stay with Fortec Motorsport for another term, but this time as part of their line up for the Cooper Tires British F3 Championship.

“It’s great to have a deal sorted so soon,” he said this week.

“Now I have the chance to really focus on my track performance over the winter so that I can be ready for next season.

“I’d love to become the first junior to win the title in a debut year.”

Webb, 18, finished third in the Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship this summer after topping the drivers’ standings for most of the campaign.

He told the Guardian that a move up to British F3 was his number one choice.

“I prefer the car,” he said.

“It was always a toss up between F3 and the World Series by Renault but testing went so well in the F3 car that it seems the right choice to make.”

And Webb believes staying loyal to Fortec – the team he raced for in 2009 – is the best way to prepare for his latest challenge.

He added: “The transition will be smoother because I know the team and the way they like to operate.

“It means too that I have less to learn before I can start setting fast lap times.”

Of course the competition will be more fierce than ever as British F3 is seen as the perfect practice place for drivers with ambitions to race in Formula 1.

Webb is not daunted.

He said: “The car is a lot more advanced in F3.

“It’s my first time racing in an open age championship too so working with an engineer and mechanics to develop the car – as well as myself – is something I’ll have to get used to as well.

“I’m sure I’ll be kept on my toes.”

The season starts at Oulton Park next Easter.