The second year of the FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy is about to get underway, with young drivers wanting to be in with a chance of being selected, required to get their entries in by tomorrow (Friday 9th September)
All eligible young drivers, aged 17 to 23 years old, need to apply to their National Sporting Authority (ASN) and each ASN is then responsible for assessing the applications they receive and choosing two candidates to be put forward to the FIA Institute. This year, 30 candidates will be chosen to go forward to the selection event on 15-18 November 2011 and a final 18 will be selected for the full training programme.
The FIA Institute’s Young Driver initiative is a partnership with former Benetton and Williams driver Alex Wurz. It works not only on driving skills, but carries a strong message of road safety, which graduates are supposed to project once they reach prominence.
Of the first year’s crop, finishing the programme now, there are already some exciting names, particularly 19 year old Kiwi Richie Stanaway who is leading the German F3 Championship with ten wins and impressed a lot by winning on his debut drive last week in GP3 at Spa. He is definitely a driver to watch out for.
Each year the Academy will work with 10 drivers and over the course of five workshops, lasting three to five days, will train them to improve as drivers, athletes and ambassadors. The Academy won’t fund their racing programmes, but there will be some prestige on the CV attached to being a graduate and the driver who finishes top of the class each year is likely to be taken seriously by the leading teams.
At the heart of this initiative is a desire to groom drivers to be not just top class racing drivers, but ambassadors for the sport and for driving in general, with particular emphasis on road safety. The FIA is committed to a Decade of Action on road safety, last year 1.3 million people were killed and 50 million injured. In 20 years from now the number of deaths on the world’s roads will be roughly double the current level if no action is taken.
Racing drivers and particularly those with the biggest platform – Formula 1 – are a key part of getting the message across about road safety.
The thinking is that a graduate from Africa or India who makes it into a high profile racing series will then have a platform to deliver a strong message on road safety back in his own country. It’s a long term thing but in time you can imagine that working.
An FIA Institute statement says, the Academy’s objective is:
– to prepare young drivers to compete at the pinnacle of the sport;
– to increase skills in the area of driver and road safety;
– to actively promote the principles of safety, fairness and responsibility both on and off the track.
If you think you have what it takes to emulate Richie Stanaway, then download an entry form HERE