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Young guns chosen for FIA Insitute driver academy
Young guns chosen for FIA Insitute driver academy
Posted By: James Allen  |  10 Feb 2011   |  9:05 am GMT  |  42 comments

The FIA Institute Young Driver Academy has selected the 12 drivers it wants to work with for its inaugural programme during the 2011 season.

Wurz: Programme leader

The 12 were selected from a shortlist of 18 race and rally drivers after a three day evaluation session in Austria under the supervision of ex F1 star Alex Wurz, who is the programme’s director.

They will now follow a programme alongside their racing commitments lasting nine months, consisting of six separate workshops of between three and five days. Alongside Wurz, rally co-driver Robert Reid’s Elite Sports Performance group will work on the physical and mental preparation.

According to the FIA Institute, “The driving elements of the course include the development of technical skills, safety training, attitudes and awareness. The human performance aspect will feature physiology, psychology, nutrition, media skills and career management.” Also fundamental to this programme is working with the youngsters to help them become ambassadors for road safety.

The evaluation in Austria involved mental and physical tests, like the ones fans and media did at Yas Marina Circuit last season, and driving exercises such as doing three laps at a similar lap time within half a second of each other. Consistency seems to have been a key requirement, which is right. Raw speed is the most important quality a driver needs, but consistency at a high level is the key to doing well at the highest levels such as F1.

Among the 12 drivers are two from Holland, one from Israel and interestingly none from the UK or Germany. The best known among the 12 is Alex Rossi, a promising American, who has raced in GP3 on the F1 European calendar and is doing World Series by Renault this year with Fortec.

The twelve to keep an eye out for this year are:

Kevin Abbring (21, Holland)
Paul-Loup Chatin (19, France);
Albert Costa (20, Spain)
Alon Day (19, Israel)
Philipp Eng (20, Austria)
Robin Frijns (19, Holland)
Timmy Hansen (18, Sweden)
Egon Kaur (23, Estonia)
Andreas Mikkelsen (21, Norway)
Alexander Rossi (19, US)
Richie Stanaway (19, New Zealand)
Stoffel Vandoorne (18, Belgium)

The first academy workshop will take place at the end of this month in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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  1. Peter C says:

    Alexander Wurz is a nice guy, but ‘F1 star’?

    1. James Allen says:

      Did you see him pass Schumacher at Loews? Podium in recalcitrant Williams at Montreal?

      1. Peter C says:

        yes, I did see both of those. Thanks.

    2. Jack says:

      Not to mention that he is often spoken of as one of the best test drivers in F1. And someone who seems to have fallen between the cracks in terms of racing.

      1. James Allen says:

        I think this could be the ideal thing for him now, he has the right mentality to be a driver coach and mentor.

      2. Marty McSuperFly says:

        Hes a great team player by all accounts.
        Also, lets not forget he did win Le Mans 24Hr last time out. Hopefully hes not thinking of retiring?

    3. Davexxx says:

      I’ve always had great respect for Alex. I think he failed to get a better seat in his F1 driving career partly simply because of being ‘too tall’, but he was a good driver. He knows his onions and it’s great to see him in such a role.

    4. Steve Dalby says:

      James, must this video start immediately… can’t take a sneaky view of the site in the office because it starts to play!!!!

  2. Baktru says:

    For me the two important names on that list are Kevin Abbring and Andreas Mikkelsen, but then I’ve always liked rallying. What Abbring can do with a Clio R3 is nothing short of amazing.

    Oddly enough, I’d never even heard of the Belgian and he’s from my own region!

    1. neilmurg says:

      is he on the list of 10 famous belgians?

  3. Martin says:

    It will be interesting to see whether any of the driver programs, such as Red Bull, pick up any FIA graduates. The three big things in the lower formulas are talent, the brain and money.

    It was interesting to see Molly Taylor get picked out of almost nowhere in Australia for this (her mum is/was a Australian Rally Championship winning navigator). I’ve no idea if the tests suited rally drivers (we did see sliding cars) or females for strength and fitness. Personally, I’d be really interested to know more about the science and biology of driving skills. I have a distant memory of a TV show commenting that men and women tend to have different ways of sensing gravitational forces. If so, this may a reason beyond the participation rate for why there have been so few successful women in motorsport.

  4. Rasheed Finch says:

    Two from Holland! We’re incredibly proud of Kevin and Robin. It’s a great achievement of them and of such a tiny country. :)

    1. JdB says:

      I have to agree with Rasheed. I’m very glad two of Holland brightest stars get their chance. And I expect in a few years also the young karting-stars Nyck de Vries and Max Verstappen. Finally are little country is producing some decent drivers.

  5. Ross says:

    Hi James,

    Can you go into anymore detail about what goes on at the workshops. Given that Edinburgh does not have a racing track what exactly will.they do?

    1. James Allen says:

      More to come on that

      1. Ross says:

        Looking forward to reading about it. I am based in Edinburgh at the moment and was wondering if there would be any public interaction.

    2. Hamish says:

      Looks like most of the course is classroom or gym based rather than driving.

      Still, if they want to drive then Knockhill is close by Edinburgh – I’ve ridden out for Bike track sessions in the evening after work.

      Great little circuit with its big commercial events being British Superbikes and the Touring Cars. OK, I’ve not seen racing anywhere else but I’ve enjoyed every time out so don’t spoil it for me!

  6. Mat says:

    James, could you alter the video settings so that it doesn’t auto-play. Every time I return to the main page of your blog I have to scroll up and stop it! Thanks!

    1. Ben says:

      Here, here!

      The first time I opened my daily tabs, it took quite some time to figure out where the noise was coming from because the video is well down the page too!


      1. Treebeard says:


    2. Voyager says:

      Phew, thought it was just me.

      Autoplay is astonishingly annoying.

  7. Jo Torrent says:

    Absolutely rubbish stuff from the FIA. They want to prepare some formatted driving androids. They try to standardize everything from driving techniques to the behavior of the drivers and the way they treat with the media.

    The fact that teams try to control their drivers as much as they can due to sponsorship deals is one thing but for the FIA to help formatting them is too much. Let them live their lives and grow as normal human beings and let their personalities flourish in the world and if they’re good enough they’ll make it into F1. We’re never going to witness a Muhammad Ali with all these moves.

    I’m surprised nobody criticized it in the press.

    1. James Allen says:

      Not sure you’re right there. They want some drivers who appreciate how to spread a message of road safety when (if) they become big, but that’s not formatted androids. You have quite a cynical view of the way drivers are managed.

    2. Marty McSuperFly says:

      What press release did you read?
      Anyway, I’m not sure F1 has ever had a Muhammad Ali figure; I don’t think any sport has had anyone that comes close. He was a one-off and a person very much of his time.

      Jo, you seem really bitter at this for no real reason.

  8. neilmurg says:

    interesting, however the auto-run video quickly became annoying

  9. EMComments says:

    James The video on this post is auto starting with sound on – rather intrusive.

  10. RCOne says:

    Alexander Rossi is an amazing talent and richly deserves his place on the Academy.

  11. Olivier says:

    Hello James,

    could you switch off the autoplay? The video starts to play automatically every time I open your page.

    Now, back to work ;)

    1. Galapago555 says:


      I was quite surprised with some strange noises from my PC when I first opened the page this morning… at work!! LOL

      1. Boz says:

        +lots. So annoying. I read this website several times/day and hearing an embedded video each time sucks frankly. Hope it’s not going to be a regular thing James…!!!!

      2. James Allen says:

        No, we got it stopped. Sorry about that. An oversight on my part!

  12. Williams4Ever says:

    Didn’t FIA miss a good opportunity to make an “Apprentice” Style reality TV show out of this venture :)

    Imagine these blokes given assignments every week under watchful eyes of mentors and celebrity judges every week (from all walks of motor sports) and Tyra Banks style drama queen driver judge (Alonso, Lewis two names that come to mind) every week to humiliate them bring tears to their eyes.

    It would have been block buster….
    Life is becoming a big dose of reality tv why leave this out :D

    1. James Allen says:

      You have a point. Good TV potential here

    2. Rich C says:

      As long as it doesn’t include ‘the Donald’!

  13. Faisal says:

    Wish a similar program for prospective racers in Asia was launched too

    1. Rich C says:

      I was a bit surprised to see there were none included.

  14. Mark says:

    Richie Stanaway will surprise.
    He is very very fast and being from the other side of the world is under the radar.
    He has made some drivers look average who are currently doing the same to some good euro drivers in the NZ Toyota Racing series

    1. Dan says:

      Agreed Mark. I first saw Richie race as a 16 (?) year old I think at Pukekohe in FF. He came from the back of the grid to get up to eight with five laps to go. That’s a pretty remarkable effort, but what made it truly special was watching him then take the lead with three laps to go. He is, quite frankly, the fastest driver in a standardised field that I think I’ve ever seen race.

  15. Michael says:

    Are they making a TV show out of this? Because that is the only way this whole concept makes sense honestly. I thought there was quite a log-jam of talent at the top, F1 seats are few and far between with luck, money and a million euro smile determining ones chance of a race seat. Surely a two day course with Alex Wurz helping you control a BMW road car in the wet is completely irrelevant?

  16. Stephen Kellett says:

    Please turn off the autoplay on this video (and all other videos you have autoplay enabled for).

    It is really annoying. I come to read an article and this video starts because its further down the blog page.

    1. James Allen says:

      I’m really sorry. It was an oversight in the first place and then supposed to be turned off last night. It’s not us controlling it. We’ve removed the embed for the moment


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