It seems all the rage these days, own a Formula 1 team and start a young driver academy. The trend is clearly moving toward youth in the quest for the next driver. What used to be a matter for the junior feeder series and even karting system has now become a managed approach to young driver development.
Red Bull have clearly shown that a comprehensive approach to developing young drivers for F1 works and much of that is down to the efforts of Helmut Marko who delivered Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Daniil Kvyat, Carlos Sainz and youngest-ever driver Max Verstappen. Ferrari and Mercedes have quickly followed suit and now Renault Sport will start its own program.
Four drivers are announced at the Academy’s foundation; reigning Formula Renault 3.5 series champion Oliver Rowland and from the ranks of the 2015 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 and Formula Renault 2.0 Alps winner Jack Aitken, Formula Renault 2.0 NEC winner Louis Delétraz and second-placed Kevin Joerg.
The drivers will be supported by Renault Sport Racing in their 2016 racing campaigns with Rowland contesting GP2, Delétraz racing in the newly named Formula V8 3.5 Series and Aitken and Joerg racing in GP3. Each driver will have tailored targets to meet for their motorsport progression.
The Renault Sport Academy is designed to nurture a driver within the Renault Sport Racing environment. An immersion program in Paris will educate the Academy members in Renault Sport Racing’s core values and heritage. A thorough fitness schedule will include evaluations at Renault Sport Formula One Team’s base at Enstone throughout the year in addition to pre-season and mid-season fitness camps. There will also be an internship at Enstone to understand how the Renault Sport Formula One Team operates. The programme will be managed operationally by Mia Sharizman Ismail who has extensive motorsport experience including Formula 1, GP2, GP3 and numerous other categories.
Frederic Vasseur, Racing Director, Renault Sport Racing
The Renault Sport Academy underlines the commitment of Renault Sport Racing to nurture young talent to develop the Formula 1 stars of the future. The motivation is not just altruistic; we want these drivers to become future Formula One World Champions and we are putting every tool at their disposal to achieve this aim.
Guillaume Boisseau, Brands Director, Groupe Renault
Renault has a terrific heritage in motorsport and this is something we are committed to continuing in the future. The Renault Sport Academy enables us to not only develop new talent but also ally this to the actual involvement of our local markets by making the process directly relevant in each country where Renault Sport is present and also giving us a larger catchment area to identify the drivers who will fly our flag at the highest echelons of motorsport in the future.