Formula 1 has finally launched some young driver development initiatives that will hopefully encourage more young drivers to enter the sport and in this week’s Driver Development & Racecraft News Roundup, I have all the details.
I also look at the new driver development programs that Porsche North America has announced as well as the 2023 driver development program by Honda Performance Development.
In addition to all of this, I have some racecraft tips and techniques, a cool program for drivers in the NXT Gen Cup, and some more Driver Spotlights that you can take inspiration from.
All this and more in this week’s edition of the Driver Development & Racecraft News Roundup.
Racecraft Tips & Techniques
Grassroots Motorsports looks at how to unlock time trials success by focusing on the data and strategies you need. “Time trial racing seems simple: Fastest car against the clock wins. Scratch beneath the surface, though, and complexities emerge. When done at a high level, time trial is a specific discipline requiring a specific approach to consistently succeed. New to the sport? Looking to shave a few tenths in a quest for a personal record? Some best practices can help you achieve those goals.”
On this edition of the Speed Secrets Podcast, Samir Abid of Your Data Driven and Ross Bentley get into how best to use data to help you become an even better driver, managing the driver’s mind when it’s too analytical and focused on data, and how to use the data from another driver to improve your own driving. They also talk about what Samir learned from having Scott Mansell of Driver61 drive his car, and what makes Lewis Hamilton so special. “Samir’s speed secret: Once up to speed, focus on corner exit rather than late braking.” You can listen here.
Ross also answers the question in his Ask Ross weekly series, why would braking earlier and lighter for a corner ever be beneficial?
Racecar Engineering has a great look at how data works in Formula 1. “Running a contemporary Formula 1 car is one of humankind’s most sophisticated systems engineering challenges. Mercedes Formula 1 explains how electronics, systems engineering and data work in F1 and the relevance of each part of the team system.”
Race Driver Development News & Resources
Confirming recent rumors, F1 has announced a new all-female F1 Academy series for 2023. The series will consist of five teams run by current F2 and F3 teams, each entering three cars to make up a 15-car grid. The first season will comprise of seven events with three races each – amounting to a total of 21 races – plus 15 days of official testing, with the 2023 calendar set to be released in due course.
The series – which will be managed by the CEO of Formula Motorsport Limited Bruno Michel – will see Formula 1 subsidize the cost of each car with a budget of €150,000, while the drivers cover the same amount of costs – a fraction of the usual costs in comparable series – with the teams covering the rest of the budget. “After assessing the barriers young female drivers face with entering the F1 pyramid, it became clear that they do not have the same amount of experience as their male counterparts at the same age.”
“The goal of the F1 Academy is to fill this gap and offer female drivers access to more track time, racing and testing. The racers will also grow by working with professional teams, who are renowned in motorsport for nurturing young drivers, and who will help them develop the crucial technical, physical, and mental preparation skills needed for elite competition. Our goal is to see female drivers on the F3 grid in the next two to three years, and for them to quickly challenge for points and podiums. The aim is to increase the field in the near future, because we hope that this category will inspire more young girls to compete in motorsport at the highest of levels.”
Encouragingly, both the W Series and the Women in Motorsports North America, a charity which encourages, supports and mentors women to pursue careers in motorsport founded by Lyn St James and Beth Paretta, have come out in favor of the new series.
“So pleased to see this initiative from F1 to provide an opportunity for women to develop skills on the ladder to reach the top levels of motorsport,” added WIMNA co-founder Beth Parett. “Creating a race season with adequate testing days is key, so I am especially glad to see that in the schedule from the start. Growing our sport is key to growing our audience, and this is an exciting step forward.”
“W Series welcomes any initiative which shares our ambition to provide more opportunities for women in motorsport. Our objective from the start has always been to increase the talent pool of women racing drivers, and the addition of the F1 Academy as a feeder to W Series and other series is a further step in inspiring the next generation to progress up the motorsport ladder.”
In addition to the F1 Academy, FIA president Ben Sulayem has revealed that the FIA is looking at single seater changes to help female drivers. “When it comes to women, we are talking with our departments when it comes to technical [aspects]. If you’ve got an F4 [car] it might be easy for females, but once you go to Formula 2 and F3, physically, it’s harder for them. So what do we do? The problem is with us, so we have the solution for it. Speaking to our technical [department], every single seater car has to accommodate both sides. It’s not rocket science. It’s up to the builders of the chassis and we will force them, otherwise we don’t have hope. We need the diversity and we will give them the opportunity. If we can, we should do it.”
That is not all that the FIA intend to do to encourage participation in motorsport at the grassroots level. Racer is reporting that Formula 1 is planning a US-based academy that is not female-only as the sport looks to grow in America. And the plan is to expand it to the rest of the world. “And we want to do the same thing in other regions – there’s the Middle East, there’s the Far East – so it’s true, it’s a wider approach that we want to take because all around the world there is this interest that has to grow, and it is our duty to invest in that.” RACER understands the plan is in its initial stages but the academy would be focused around the Las Vegas Grand Prix as the sport tries to expand in the United States, with the aim of increasing the pool of potential drivers who start their racing in America but have a desire to progress towards Formula 1.
Porsche Motorsport North America has launched the Porsche Driver Development Program to develop young talent within the North American region. The program will create a pathway for young drivers to potentially become a full factory driver with Porsche. Each step of the Porsche Driver Development Program provides a range of backing for junior drivers, including financial support, education, and mentoring. The program features four parts, including:
- The Porsche Talent Identification Program
- The Porsche Sprint Challenge Junior Program
- The Porsche Carrera Cup Junior Program
- The Porsche Selected Driver Program
The HPD Driver Academy has announced plans for its 2023 program, which includes an option for extensive track time in the Honda Civic Type R TCR or the Acura NSX GT3 Evo22. Operated by Racers Edge Motorsports under the guidance and support of HPD, the program will include access to experienced drivers, HPD engineering and trackside support staff, and SRO and IMSA Championship engineers and team owners. Academy drivers will receive individualized mentoring and coaching from top racing talent including Acura IMSA prototype champion Ricky Taylor, IMSA GTD champion Mario Farnbacher, and touring car champion Ryan Eversley.
As part of the program, drivers will be invited to American Honda for introduction to key executive members of Honda’s North American operations, visit the Honda Museum in Torrance, California, and receive a tour of the Honda Performance Development facility in Santa Clarita, California. Drivers will also receive HPD Academy gear including a personalized driving suit.
As factory development drivers, academy members will be given the opportunity to be promoted by HPD and Acura Motorsports and attend key promotional events, including paddock access to the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. More details on the program can be found here.
United Autosports World Endurance Championship driver Josh Pierson is to become the first driver of Ed Carpenter Racing’s new development program, with the goal to reach IndyCar by 2025. It was announced that Pierson “will have the guidance and support of ECR team members as he furthers his career and will be mentored by team owner Ed Carpenter. Additionally, Pierson will begin testing one of ECR’s Chevrolet-powered Indy cars in 2023.”
The new sporting regulations that Formula E has announced for Season 9 include a new program for rookie drivers. Every team must complete at least two Free Practice 1 sessions during the season with a driver who has never previously competed in the championship. The goal is to give up-and-coming drivers the chance to experience the unique qualities of Formula E racing and to contribute to the progress of the team.
NXT Gen Cup will in cooperation with Swedbank, a bank for the purpose of empower the many people and businesses to create a better future, start an educational program for its drivers ahead of the inaugural season in 2023. The drivers will visit the Swedbank headquarters in Stockholm in December to take part in a comprehensive economics program on how to start a business, set up a budget and be offered advisory services.
NXT Gen Cup is the world’s first fully electric junior touring car cup which will start in 2023 and run alongside the all-electric STCC, featuring a big grid of LRT NXT1 race cars which are based on the electric MINI Cooper SE road car – more info here.
Micah Kessler of Radford Racing School crawled into the back of one of Dodge’s Last Call Charger SRT Swinger editions at SEMA 2022 to talk to RacingJunk about race and performance driving school, why everyone should do it, and what’s next for Radford. You can watch the video above.
Formula Scout asks the question, is there still room for young, inexperienced drivers across F1? “Testing reductions in order to cut costs have considerably limited F1 teams’ opportunities of evaluating young drivers on track, and the 2022 technical regulations pose a different challenge to the cars that came before them, making them more reluctant than ever to sign rookies for their line-ups. Running a TPC program is nowadays the only real option of having proper tests, and that is something that not every team can afford due to the budget and infrastructure required.”
Learning from the experience of others is key to succeeding in any walk of life and racing is no different. In Driver Snapshots, I will feature the experiences of various drivers where you can get some perspective on what they have gone through (and continue to go through) as they work to make their motorsport careers happen. I hope you can take some lessons from these experiences and apply them to your own motorsport careers.
With motorsport continuing to expand its reach across the globe, not only are more and more individuals trying their hand at it, but those who were already quietly working their way up through the ranks are rightfully getting more of the spotlight thrown upon them. One such person is Canada’s Marie-Soleil Lambelle. Hailing from Ontario, Marie races in the Nissan Sentra Cup and has been a racing driver since a young age when she first started karting. Marie’s packed a lot into her career so far, even managing to go racing in one of the support races for Formula 1 earlier this year at the Canadian Grand Prix.
Hadrien David is undoubtedly one of the biggest feeder series talents below FIA F3. Second and fourth in the last two FRECA seasons, he tested F3 cars for the first time in post-season testing. However, it is likely this could be the first and last time the Frenchman will drive this type of car as he is facing budget issues. David talked to F1 Feeder Series about his 2022 season and his future.