Ferrari remains committed to young driver support


Ferrari's F1 racing director, Laurent Mekies says the Italian team remains committed to its young driver initiative despite the fall-out over the Oscar Piastri saga.

In the wake of Piastri's move to McLaren, Alpine's CEO, Laurent Rossi cast doubt on the future of his team's young driver programme, essentially asking why his team should support young talent only to see it head off elsewhere.

Christian Horner was quick to defend the worth of Red Bull's programme, while Mekies also remains a believer in the value of the likes of his team's academy.

"We live in an environment of fascinated people and I'm sure these kids are passionate about our sport or at least in the process of becoming very passionate," he said. "That is what drives that interest.

"Therefore, the drivers will want to achieve more and will strive to get into the best shape possible and we will want to get the best out of them during the programme.

"I will not say that it is important to train in the car because I would like to think that ultimately, we would like to give them a fair chance even if they don't have initial Formula 4 experience," he added.

His words come as the Ferrari Driver Academy's Asia Pacific and Oceania regional selection programme gets underway at Sepang.

"It is a great adventure to embark on," he said of the programme, "there is a concrete general entrance to get to the academy. "Even if the drivers don't get all the way to the academy, this will still be an incredible experience.

"Certainly, we hope to make a good contribution to the sport and to get the younger generation to know our sport and to embrace it. And if they eventually become drivers, it's great, if they become team personnel or even fans, that's already a huge achievement."

Piastri's failure to find an F1 seat in 2022, despite having won the F3 and F2 titles in successive years, had already cast doubt on the worth of young driver programmes, while this year's F2 champion, Felipe Drugovich also appears to have nowhere to go - certainly as far as an F1 race seat is concerned - and has therefore joined Aston Martin as reserve driver.

This year saw teams mandated to run a young driver in two Friday sessions, but with just 6 race weekends remaining, Ferrari is one of several drivers yet to run a young driver in even one session.

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Published: 26/09/2022
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