This week twenty-nine of the world’s most promising young racing and rally drivers arrived in Austria for the Selection Event for the second year of the FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy. Each driver was assessed over the 4-day event and 18 were chosen to take part in the year long programme.
Mohamed Al Mutawaa, 18, UAE
Klaus Bachler, 20, Austria
Andrea Bate, 22, South Africa
Craig Breen, 21, Ireland
Andrea Caldarelli, 21, Italy
Gabriel Chaves, 18, Columbia
Jonas Gelzinis, 23, Lithuania
Michael Klitgaard Christensen, 21, Denmark
Jack Le Brocq, 19, Australia
Michael Lewis, 20, USA
Alexander Lynn, 18, UK
Jose Andres Montalto, 21, Costa Rica
Ramon Pineiro, 19, Spain
Brendan Reeves, 23, Australia
Pontus Tidemand, 20, Sweden
Timo van der Marel, 22, Holland
Sepp Wiegand, 20, Germany
Lewis Williamson, 21, UK (a former McLaren Autosport Young Driver of the Year)
At the recent F1 young guns test in Abu Dhabi a graduate of this year’s programme, American Alex Rossi, got his chance to test an F1 car with Team Lotus. Meanwhile another graduate, Richie Stanaway, looks a very exciting prospect. The New Zealander won the German F3 championship this year and looked sharp when he had a few outings with ART in GP3 towards the end of the season, taking one win.
Over the next year, the 18 drivers chosen for the second Academy will take part in workshops covering all aspects of driver performance and safety. “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,” according to the FIA Institute.
Although this is a programme focused on racing and rally drivers, its priorities do not lie solely with raw speed. The drivers conduct tests based on mental and physical performance along with being introduced to key safety measures from the FIA Institute.
The leading examiners for the event were be former WRC co-driver Robert Reid and former Grand Prix driver and two-time Le Mans winner Alex Wurz.
This is the second year of the Academy, which aims to teach young drivers not just about how to improve as racers, but it carries a strong road safety message with it too, which they are encouraged to share in their home countries.
After a few years of this programme the number of drivers at the highest levels of the sport who are ambassadors for road safety will be significant.