Where new drivers will come from

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Where new drivers will come from

Postby meteorite » Sun Dec 18, 2011 5:37 pm

Sebastian Vettel stepped into Formula 1 and promptly became a World Champion drivers two years running, and counting. He is the living proof that driver development programs work.

Vettel was drawn from a sort of scholarship program in which Red Bull has chosen a number of young drivers in various levels and branches of motorsports, and other sports offering high advertising exposure, and sponsored them up through the ranks of the sport. Vettel was the first to make it all the way to their Formula 1 team, so until he and/or Webber need to be replaced there is a bottleneck at the top. This has hurt Jaime Alguersauri and Sebastian Buemi - while they have performed respectably with Toro Rosso, the farm team as it were, they have not shown enough to displace Vettel and Webber, and now must yield way to two new promotions from the next lower level. The pool system has its casualties.

That hasn't stopped McLaren from running its own grooming program - Lewis Hamilton was under contract for years before he was promoted to Formula 1, and other teams have their own specific driver development programs. Still, the whole idea of the tiered system, from the marque (Ford, VW, Renault) Formulas up through Formula 3 is to allow all drivers to develop and display their skills in the hopes of catching the eye of a Formula 1 team.

Meanwhile Ferrari have started their own program, and it may not be that long until the tifosi have themselves another star to cheer for from the province of Quebec. A couple of years ago they spotted 11 year old Lance Stroll gaining near total dominance of the North American go-kart world, and signed him to a Ferrari Academy contract. This particular initiative has been very low key, so much so that even Lance's father, whose business interests include Ferrari dealership in Montreal, did not know about it. Lance, now 13, has yet to sit in a car and won't for a couple of years, but he has moved to Italy where his life and training are fully supervised, and paid for, by Ferrari.

It's a very elaborate and intriguing story, so much so that it consume all of three broadsheet pages in the Globe & Mail sports section this weekend - obviously far more than can be displayed here. But it is worth your pursuit at:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/m ... le2274857/
preferably fairly soon as I am uncertain how long it will remain in the no-charge part of their website.

And then, when ten years from now Lance Stroll becomes Canada's (and Ferrari's) next World Championship challenger, you can say "I knew it all the time".
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