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FIA Institute shortlists Young drivers for academy programme
FIA Institute shortlists Young drivers for academy programme
Posted By: James Allen  |  21 Jan 2011   |  10:51 am GMT  |  7 comments

The new FIA Institute Young Driver Academy is taking shape as today 19 youngsters were named, from which 10 will be selected to take part in the 2011 Academy programme. The most experienced of them is Alexander Rossi, an American who has been racing in GP3 and GP2 Asia and is known in the F1 paddock.

Alexander Rossi with former BMW motorsport boss Mario Theissen

The selection process to narrow the shortlist down to 10 finalists will take place in Austria on 6/7/8 February under the watchful eye of Academy principal Alex Wurz and his partner Robert Reid, who was a leading rally co-driver and now runs a physical training centre. The tests will be a mixture of driving and non-driving assessments.

The drivers come from all over the world; Bahrain, France, Spain, Israel, Estonia, Norway, USA and New Zealand. There is a requirement for one candidate to come from each of the FIA’s five funding regions; the Americas, West and North Europe, East and Central Europe, Middle East/Africa and Asia/Oceania.

The FIA’s programme differs from other young driver programmes in two key areas; the programme is a training course rather than a source of funding for a season of racing, it’s something that will look good on a CV rather than present a cheque for a drive in F3. Secondly it has a strong emphasis on making the drivers into good ambassadors for the sport, particularly in terms of going back to their home regions and spreading the word on road safety, which is one of FIA president Jean Todt’s principal goals while in office.

As legendary F1 doctor Sid Watkins observes, “The Academy programme aims to ensure that our future stars are not just quick but also have the education and attitude that you need to succeed at the very top level.”

The spotlight on young talent and the opportunities or lack of them at the top level, comes at a time when racing teams are finding it increasingly hard to find sponsorship. It seems that perhaps 10 or 11 of the drivers on the F1 grid this coming season will be bringing sponsorship with them.

The 19 who will take part in the shootout are:

Kevin Abbring, 21, Netherlands
Winner of the Junior world rally championship.

Hamad Ahmed Al Fardan, 23, Bahrain
Finished 4th in the Rotax Max World kart Finals. Finished third in the rookie standings in FBMW Asia.

Paul-Loup Chatin, 19, France
Comes from F4 Eurocup 1.6 where he finished a fourth last season, with two victories.

Albert Costa, 20, Spain
Drove for Räikkönen Robertson Racing in F3. Won the Renault Eurocup in 2009 and graduated to the Formula Renault 3.5 Series in 2010.

Alon Day, 19, Israel
Won the Asian Formula Renault Challenge in 2009. Raced in the German F3 Championship last season. r

Philipp Eng, 20, Austria
Won the Italian Open Masters karting in 2004. Won the Formula BMW World Final in 2007. This earned him a test for the BMW Sauber Formula One team, which he undertook in 2008. Raced in F2 last two seasons.

Robin Frijns, 19, Netherlands
Finished third in the KF2 European Kart Championship. Won Formula BMW championship last season with six race victories.

Adam Gould, 23, UK
Won the Pirelli Star Driver rallying title and with it a Pirelli funded drive in a Subaru Impreza in the British Rally Championship in 2009.

Timmy Hansen, 18, Sweden
Third in the Formula BMW Championship last season

Egon Kaur, 23, Estonia
Won the Estonian Rally Championship in 2006. Has also competed in selected rounds of the World Rally Championship.

Andreas Mikkelsen, 21, Norway
Competed in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, with a best finish of second on the 2010 Rally Scotland. Won the SWRC class at the season-ending 2010 Wales Rally GB.

Josef Newgarden, 20, USA
Won the TAG World Championship in karting. Runner up in British Formula Ford Championship in 2009 with nine wins. Raced in GP3 Series last year.

Norman Nato, 18, France
Finished fourth in the 2009 KZ1 World Kart Cup. Runner up in the F4 Renault Eurocup 1.6 last year

Alexander Rossi, 19, USA
Won Formula BMW USA series in 2008 he won the series with ten wins from the fifteen races. He completed the season by winning the 2008 Formula BMW World Championship and was awarded a Formula One test with BMW Sauber F1 Team. Raced in 2009–10 GP2 Asia Series. In 2010 finished fourth in GP3 Series. He has former USF1 front man Peter Windsor working in his team.

Jan Skala, 19,Czech Republic
Jan Skala started as a rally driver switched to circuit racing. Won the European Cup Formula 1400.

Richie Stanaway, 19, New Zealand
Originally from a speedway background. Moved to Germany and won the ADAC Formel Masters season championship last year.

Molly Taylor, 22, Australia
She moved to the UK to compete in the full British Rally Championship in the Suzuki Swift Sport Cup, winning three of the six events.

Stoffel Vandoorne, 18, Belgium
In 2009 he finished as runner-up in the CIK-FIA World Cup in KF2 category. Won the F4 Eurocup 1.6 series, taking six wins. In 2011, he will graduate to Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup.

Joni Wiman, 17, Finland
Has competed in karting, rallying and circuit racing. Came second in the 2008 European Championship in karting. Raced in the 2010 Formula Renault UK Winter Series.

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Stelios Stefanatos


I would like to know if you accept their drivers to test out to promote them in the formula 1 outside karts start but now there are neither sponsoreo or anything and my dream is to run the formyl 1 there such development opportunity?

My name is Stelios Stefanatos (Gr) and i am 21 yers old.

thank you for your time !


I’m so excited for Albert Costa. I don’t know how good he really is, but I kinda want to see him do well. He is the younger brother of Carolina Costa, Alonso’s ex, and I remember seeing some picture of him doing karting a loooong time ago, and always thought it was just for fun, he would never get anywhere, etc. I’d love to be proven wrong.


“He is the younger brother of Carolina Costa, Alonso’s ex”

Wow, what an interesting info about a driver…


I wonder if the FIA will be able to achieve some form of corporate sponsorship and attract attention not too dissimilar to other driving academies like the one seen for the Gran Turismo playstation game.

This would hopefully avoid some of the pay driver issues we have been seeing for a long time in f1, however that it something I would never see go away.

Would companies along the line of Red Bull or Renault who are renowned in running their own young driver programmes, would be the right sort of sponsors who would take interest?

You can’t get much more high profile then the FIA in motorsport though. Its like running a FIFA football academy.


Talking of good young drivers, here is wishing Dean Stoneman a speedy recovery!


Well, not a bad idea from the FIA and some of these guys already have some nice achievement on the CVs. Wether they make it to F1 or WRC, etc. is a different matter but it’s really important to spread the word about road safety because these days you get to see a lot of amateur schumachers racing on public roads just to get to the local supermarket or pub. Kinda dangerous to drive around these days.

People should know what’s acceptable and what’s not: go to a circuit, hire a racing car and crash it if you like but please don’t risk other people’s lives outside the track.


right.. and then they arrive at the F1 level and they are faced with pay drivers dominating the spectrum

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