F1 younger driver programmes: Which drivers are signed to which groups? - Motor Informed
Formula 1

F1 younger driver programmes: Which drivers are signed to which groups?

Whenever you’re attempting to go as quick as doable round a race observe, a very powerful piece of the puzzle is nearly all the time the driving force.

Positive, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen wouldn’t be successful races each week in the event that they didn’t have the perfect gear, however there’s a purpose they’ve ended up with the quickest vehicles on the grid.

They’re particular skills who can push their machines to absolutely the restrict, unlocking tempo that few different drivers can discover. In a sport measured in thousandths of a second, that means will be the distinction between ending first or not ending in any respect.

Because of this, many of the groups make investments thousands and thousands between them within the hunt for the subsequent racing star. Younger driver programmes assist fund the fledgling careers of essentially the most promising junior drivers within the hope of nurturing them into the F1 drivers of the long run.

So which drivers are on which workforce’s books proper now? And the place are they studying the artwork of racecraft?

Liam Lawson, Hitech Grand Prix, Jehan Daruvala, Carlin

Liam Lawson, Hitech Grand Prix, Jehan Daruvala, Carlin

Picture by: Formulation Motorsport Ltd

Pink Bull & AlphaTauri present younger drivers

  • Jehan Daruvala – Formulation 2
  • Liam Lawson – Formulation 2
  • Juri Vips – Formulation 2
  • Jack Doohan – Formulation three
  • Jak Crawford – Formulation three
  • Ayumu Iwasa – Formulation three
  • Dennis Hauger – Formulation three
  • Jonny Edgar – Formulation three
  • Arvid Linblad – Karting

The Pink Bull younger driver programme is arguably essentially the most profitable of the lot, having reared four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel and a number of race winner Daniel Ricciardo since its inception in 2001. Different notable names embrace Daniil Kvyat, Sebastien Buemi (2015-16 Formulation E champion), Brendon Hartley (two-time WEC champion and Le Mans winner), Jean-Eric Vergne (double Formulation E champion) and Carlos Sainz Jr, amongst others.

Max Verstappen joined the programme in the summertime of 2014 and was promoted to F1 simply months later, changing into the youngest driver to begin a grand prix at 17 years and 166 days when he raced within the Australian Grand Prix for Toro Rosso – Pink Bull’s junior outfit – in 2015. A 12 months later he was promoted to the primary Pink Bull workforce, and received his first race instantly on the Spanish Grand Prix. Since then he’s scored dozens of podiums and a number of other race wins.

Pink Bull’s sister workforce – renamed AlphaTauri for 2020 – presently employs Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda, each of whom graduated from the younger driver programme. Gasly was promoted to Pink Bull in 2019 however demoted once more midway by the season: he scored his maiden podium on the Brazilian Grand Prix not lengthy after, and took his first victory for AlphaTauri on the Italian Grand Prix in 2020.

Alex Albon was handed an F1 seat at Toro Rosso in 2019, impressing sufficient to exchange Pierre Gasly after the summer season break. Albon retained his seat till the top of 2020, however inconsistent performances noticed him lose his place on the grid altogether as Pink Bull regarded exterior of its roster for a alternative for the primary time in years. Pink Bull nonetheless have Albon beneath contract and haven’t dominated out a return for the Thai driver in the future: he’ll compete in DTM in 2021.

Pink Bull’s present younger driver programme comprises three Formulation 2 drivers: Jehan Daruvala, who drives for Carlin, and Hitech teammates Liam Lawson and Juri Vips.

In the meantime in Formulation three, Pink Bull has an curiosity in 5 drivers: Trident’s Jack Doohan, son of five-time 500cc world champion Mick Doohan, Hitech teammates Jak Crawford and Ayumu Iwasa, Prema’s Dennis Hauger and Carlin’s Jonny Edgar.

In karting, Pink Bull is backing teenager Arvid Lindblad, who was topped British Champion aged 11.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W11

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W11

Picture by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Mercedes present younger drivers

  • George Russell – Formulation 1
  • Esteban Ocon – Formulation 1
  • Frederik Vesti – Formulation three
  • Paul Aron – Formulation Regional European Championship by Alpine
  • Andrea Kimi Antonelli – Karting
  • Alex Powell – Karting

Mercedes’ younger driver programme isn’t as broad as Pink Bull’s, however having received each drivers’ and constructors’ title since 2014 that may hardly be known as a weak point.

Pascal Wehrlein was the workforce’s first official junior driver, becoming a member of because the workforce’s reserve in 2014. A championship-winning marketing campaign in DTM in 2015 finally led to an F1 drive with Manor in 2016, with Wehrlein transferring to Sauber the next season. Nevertheless, alternatives in F1 dried up and he finally made the swap to Formulation E, leaving Mercedes’ programme in 2018.

The German’s stint overlapped with that of Esteban Ocon, who signed with Mercedes in 2015 and made his F1 debut for Manor alongside Wehrlein mid-way by the season in 2016. A formidable marketing campaign with Drive India (since Racing Level and now Aston Martin) adopted a 12 months later, however regardless of faring effectively in opposition to the vastly extra skilled Sergio Perez, Ocon was compelled to make manner for Lance Stroll when the Canadian driver’s father purchased the workforce.

Ocon was allowed to go away Mercedes’ F1 programme with a view to kick-start his profession with Renault (now Alpine) in 2021, though the Silver Arrows nonetheless handle the Frenchman. His contract with Alpine is because of expire on the finish of 2021, and a return to Mercedes hasn’t been dominated out.

George Russell joined the Mercedes setup in 2017, successful the GP3 title that 12 months and backing it up with an F2 crown the next season. The outcomes earned him an F1 drive with Williams for 2018, though a sequence of poor vehicles within the seasons since meant that Russell’s spectacular performances went largely unnoticed behind the sector.

That every one modified when Lewis Hamilton contracted COVID-19 forward of the Sakhir Grand Prix in 2020, and Mercedes was given permission by Williams to make use of Russell as Hamilton’s stand-in. The teen shone by qualifying on the entrance row after which dominated the race itself, solely to be denied his maiden win by a pit cease error by the workforce after which a puncture late on. With each his and Valtteri Bottas’s contacts operating out on the finish of 2021, Russell is hotly tipped to exchange the Finn subsequent season.

Exterior F1, Frederik Vesti is essentially the most distinguished member of the Mercedes junior workforce, competing in F3 for ART in 2021. One other of its drivers – Estonia’s Paul Aron – is racing within the Formulation Regional European Championship this season, whereas karting skills Andrea Kimi Antonelli and Alex Powell even have the backing of Mercedes.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF21

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF21

Picture by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

Ferrari present younger drivers

  • Antonio Giovinazzi – Formulation 1
  • Mick Schumacher – Formulation 1
  • Callum Ilott – Official check driver
  • Robert Shwartzman – Formulation 2
  • Marcus Armstrong – Formulation 2
  • Enzo Fittipaldi – Formulation three
  • Arthur Leclerc – Formulation three
  • Maya Weug – Italian Formulation four
  • James Wharton – Karting

The Ferrari Driver Academy has nurtured a number of F1 skills over time, together with Sergio Perez, Lance Stroll and Charles Leclerc. The Monegasque driver is the one one thus far to have progressed to the race workforce, successful his first grand prix with the Scuderia at Spa in 2019. A second victory adopted every week later on the Italian Grand Prix at Monza in entrance of the Tifosi, though he’s but so as to add to that tally as a consequence of Ferrari’s poor type since.

The final driver from the programme to be held in such excessive regard was Leclerc’s godfather Jules Bianchi, who raced for Marussia in F1 in 2013 and 2014. The 25-year-old was tipped to graduate to Ferrari in the future, however he misplaced his life 9 months after a collision on the Japanese Grand Prix which left him in a coma.

Alfa Romeo driver Antonio Giovinazzi is now in his third full season in F1, positioned on the workforce by Ferrari having been affiliated with the Italian outfit since changing into their reserve driver in 2017. Giovinazzi grew to become the primary Italian driver to race in F1 since Jarno Trulli and Vitantionio Liuzzi when he made his debut for Sauber as a stand-in for the injured Pascal Wehrlein that season. His finest end thus far was the fifth place he scored in Brazil in 2019.

The opposite Ferrari Driver Academy member who’s plying his commerce in F1 is Mick Schumacher, son of seven-time world champion Michael. Now driving for Haas, Mick was signed by Ferrari in 2019 and went on to win the F2 title in 2020, underlining his credentials as a doable star of the long run.

Schumacher beat fellow Ferrari prodigies Callum Ilott and Robert Shwartzman to the Formulation 2 crown; Ilott is now Ferrari’s official check driver, whereas Shwartzman is contesting his second F2 season in 2021 with Prema. The Russian driver is joined on the grid by rookie Marcus Armstrong, one other younger driver with ties to Ferrari.

Additional down the ladder in Formulation three, Ferrari is backing Enzo Fittipaldi – grandson of two-time world champion Emerson – and Arthur Leclerc, the younger brother of Charles.

Maya Weug earned her place within the academy by successful the Women on Observe – Rising Stars competitors in 2021, and can race in Italian Formulation four this season. Elsewhere James Wharton has attracted Ferrari’s curiosity in karting, and the Australian is aiming to make his single-seater debut in 2022.

Guanyu Zhou, Uni-Virtuosi Racing

Guanyu Zhou, Uni-Virtuosi Racing

Picture by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Alpine present younger drivers

  • Guanyu Zhou – Formulation 2
  • Christian Lundgaard – Formulation 2
  • Oscar Piastri – Formulation 2
  • Caio Collet – Formulation three
  • Victor Martins – Formulation three

The Alpine Academy – lately rebranded following the workforce’s swap away from Renault – was arrange in 2002, making it one of the crucial effectively established younger driver programmes operated by an F1 workforce.

Through the years it has labored with Jerome d’Ambrosio, Lucas di Grassi (Formulation E champion 2016-17), Giedo van der Garde, Romain Grosjean, Heikki Kovalainen, Robert Kubica and Pastor Maldonado, however solely the latter trio have tasted victory in F1, every doing so simply the as soon as of their racing careers.

One driver within the programme who may’ve gone additional was Anthoine Hubert: the younger Frenchman displayed all of the marks of a terrific driver when he was climbing the ladder, successful the French F4 championship in 2013 and the GP3 title in 2018. Hubert had received two dash races for BWT Arden in his rookie 12 months in F2 in 2019, however tragically his life was minimize quick after a crash at Spa later that season.

Between 2012 and 2015 the academy was often called the Lotus F1 Junior Group, however of the drivers related to the programme in that interval, solely Alex Albon – who was dropped from Pink Bull’s programme in 2012, solely to be rehired in 2019 – progressed to F1.

Alpine has three drivers contesting the F2 championship in 2021: Guanyu Zhou, a first-time characteristic race winner on the season-opener in Bahrain, Christian Lundgaard, a two-time dash race winner in his rookie marketing campaign in 2020, and Oscar Piastri; 2020’s F3 champion and now teammates with Ferrari younger driver Robert Schwartzman at Prema.

In F3, Alpine pair Caio Collet and Victor Martins line up for MP Motorsport for the 2021 season.

Jack Aitken, Williams FW43

Jack Aitken, Williams FW43

Picture by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Williams present younger drivers

  • Jack Aitken – Official reserve driver
  • Dan Ticktum – Formulation 2 & growth driver
  • Jamie Chadwick – Excessive E & growth driver
  • Roy Nissany – Official check driver

The Williams Driver Academy was established comparatively lately, though the workforce has a protracted historical past of creating drivers having given the likes of Damon Hill, David Coulthard, Jenson Button, Nico Rosberg and Valtteri Bottas a route into F1.

Jack Aitken is Williams’ official reserve driver, with the 25-year-old known as as much as deputise for George Russell on the Sakhir Grand Prix in 2020 whereas the latter stood in for an sick Lewis Hamilton. Aitken certified 18th on the grid and was solely a tenth of a second slower than teammate Nicholas Latifi, though a spin through the race compelled him to pit for a brand new entrance wing. This triggered a sequence of occasions that brought on Mercedes to foil each of its drivers, leading to a maiden win for Racing Level’s Sergio Perez.

2017 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award winner Dan Ticktum and inaugural W Sequence Champion Jamie Chadwick are Williams’ growth drivers, with the pair competing in F2 and Excessive E respectively in 2021.

F2 driver Roy Nissany is the workforce’s official check driver for 2021, having taken half in three apply classes in 2020.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL35M, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL35M, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Picture by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

McLaren present younger drivers

  • Ugo Ugochukwu – Karting

The McLaren Younger Driver Programme has existed beneath a number of names because it was established in 1998. It’s first two beneficiaries have been a pair of British karting skills: one was Wesley Graves, the opposite was Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton’s profession hardly wants summarising: with McLaren’s backing he graduated from karts to single seaters, changing into Formulation Renault UK champion in 2003, Formulation three Euro champion in 2005 and GP2 champion in 2006. Promoted to F1 with McLaren alongside Fernando Alonso for 2007, Hamilton very almost added the world title to his glittering junior CV as a rookie, however fell simply quick as errors and dangerous luck price him the crown on the ultimate race of the season.

Since then Hamilton has made historical past: now a seven-time world champion, the boy from Stevenage has recorded extra wins, extra podiums and extra pole positions than anybody else in over 70 years of F1. Now in his 15th season, he continues so as to add to these tallies within the hunt for a record-breaking eighth title.

Quite a few different McLaren younger drivers have graduated to F1 over time, albeit with out the identical ranges of success that Hamilton has loved. Giedo van der Garde, Alex Albon, Kevin Magnussen, Stoffel Vandoorne and Lando Norris have all made it to the highest tier of motorsport, with the latter trio all representing McLaren for a interval. Nevertheless, thus far solely Norris has survived for greater than a single season.

Different McLaren younger drivers embrace Oliver Rowland, Oliver Turvey, Nick de Vries, Tom Blomqvist and Sergio Sette Camara, all of whom have gone on to race in Formulation E at varied phases of their careers.

Lately McLaren went by a spell with none drivers in its younger driver programme, however in March 2021 it signed a long-term take care of 13-year-old US karting star Ugo Ugochukwu, who received the FIA OKJ European Championship in 2020.

Theo Pourchaire, ART Grand Prix

Theo Pourchaire, ART Grand Prix

Picture by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Alfa Romeo (Sauber Academy, launched 2020) present younger drivers

  • Theo Pourchaire – Formulation 2
  • Emerson Fittipaldi Jr – Danish Formulation four
  • Petr Ptacek
  • Dexter Patterson – British Formulation three
  • Maciej Gladysz – Karting
  • Tiziano Monza – Karting
  • Miguel Costa – Karting
  • Christian Ho – Karting

Alfa Romeo doesn’t have a younger driver programme of its personal, because the workforce is run by Sauber. The Sauber Junior workforce was launched in 2018 with companions Charouz Racing System, however after that deal ended the outfit established the Sauber Academy in June 2020.

4 drivers are presently related to the programme, with Theo Pourchaire the furthest alongside in his junior profession: the French teenager received the ADAC Formulation four Championship in 2019 and completed second behind Oscar Piastri in F3 in 2020, narrowly lacking out on the title by a mere three factors. Pourchaire has made the step as much as F2 for 2021, representing ART alongside Alpine’s Christian Lundgaard.

The opposite inductees embrace Emerson Fittipaldi Jr, son of the eponymous two-time world champion, plus 2018 Italian F4 Rookie Cup winner Petr Ptacek and Sauber Karting Group graduate Dexter Patterson.

The Sauber Karting Group was set as much as help younger racers and might present a pathway to the Sauber Academy. It presently has Maciej Gladysz, Tiziano Monza, Miguel Costa and Christian Ho on its books.

Pietro Fittipaldi, reserve driver, Haas F1

Pietro Fittipaldi, reserve driver, Haas F1

Picture by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Haas present younger drivers

  • Pietro Fittipaldi – Official reserve driver & ELMS

Haas is certainly one of two groups that don’t run an official driver growth programme. As an alternative, it has signed a handful of younger drivers as reserve and growth drivers since its arrival in F1 in 2016.

Santino Ferrucci, Arjun Maini and Louis Deletraz have all been related to the workforce in that point, however Pietro Fittipaldi is the one driver related the US outfit at current. Nominated as Haas’s reserve drive since 2019, Fittipaldi – brother of Enzo and grandson of Emerson – stood in for the injured Romain Grosjean on the finish of the 2020 season following the Frenchman’s horrifying crash on the Bahrain Grand Prix. Fittipaldi completed final in each races, however was praised for his efficiency having not pushed an F1 automotive for a 12 months earlier than his sudden call-up.

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR21

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR21

Picture by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

Aston Martin present younger drivers

Aston Martin – the workforce which existed as Racing Level between 2019 and 2020, and as Drive India earlier than then – doesn’t function a younger driver programme in the meanwhile.

Former driver Nico Hulkenberg is the workforce’s official reserve driver for 2021. The German was dropped on the finish of the 2019 season, however began two races for the workforce in 2020 when Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll contracted COVID-19. Regardless of being known as up late – on the latter event within the morning earlier than qualifying for the Eifel Grand Prix – Hulkenberg scored factors each instances.

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