This week I bring you more racing scholarship winners and race driver development news in this edition of the Driver Development News & Racecraft Tips & Techniques Roundup.
Some of the racing scholarships covered are those awarded to the winners of the Mazda MX-5 Shootout, the FIA Girls on Track competition, the RACB National Team and more.
I also have some great racecraft tips and techniques as well as two more Driver Snapshots that you can take inspiration from.
All this and more in this edition of the Driver Development News & Racecraft Tips & Techniques Roundup on Motorsport Prospects. Its news race drivers can use.
Racecraft Tips & Techniques
Blayze looks at how pro racecar drivers analyze their steering data in the video above.
“What are some common issues that our coaches find in steering trace data for racecar drivers?
1) Turn in rate: You will see the red line in this video the driver has a very fast turn in point. We see this by the linear increase at the turn in point of the red line. We can see with the white line the driver slowly starts turning, which lets the weight transfer slowly, and then once the weight is set the turn more aggressively.
2) Using lateral G when you don’t have steering in your data: You can see here that with lateral G we can get a pretty close proxy for our steering trace. We can see where we turn in and where we start to unwind the steering wheel. But, we can’t see if the car has oversteer or understeer or exactly how a driver is manipulating the steering wheel.”
“In this guide, we’re going to tackle the adjustments professional racecar drivers make when they are driving a lower-horsepower car. The point of this article is to point out the differences in how we approach these types of cars. What is going to surprise you is what does NOT change. Or how small the changes are.”
Ross Bentley of Speed Secrets answers the question: What advice do you have for me as I turn off the electronic stability and traction control when driving on track?
If you are not a subscriber of the Your Data Driven newsletter Ahead of the Curve then you are definitely missing out. This week Samir has posted a complete chapter from The Motorsports Playbook that addresses the key points in mastering braking and corner entry. You can subscribe here.
In their latest Techtalk, Single Seater Space.com has put together a beginner’s guide to the floor and diffuser, featuring an explanation behind porpoising.
Race Driver Development News & Resources
After two days of driving, several meetings and multiple sessions spent reviewing data at Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, South Carolina, three drivers earned scholarships in the 15th edition of the Mazda MX-5 Cup Shootout. Additionally, two karting stars were selected to be Mazda club racing factory drivers.
Nate Cicero of Pound Ridge, New York came away from the 2022 Mazda MX-5 Cup Shootout with the big prize; a scholarship valued at $110,000 to compete in next year’s Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich® Tires. Two $75,000-value scholarships were awarded to runner-up Thomas Annunziata of Colts Neck, New Jersey, as well as a second to Heather Hadley of Mooresville, North Carolina. From the group of karters, Reid Sweeney and Chase Jones have been named as official Mazda drivers in the Spec MX-5 series for 2023.
As judge Tom Long has pointed out, the competition was super. “It was a great experience for everyone involved, whether or not they walked away with a scholarship. There was a lot of track time, ample opportunity to gain experience in the cars, and coaching provided by Mazda’s panel of Shootout judges. The collective experience of the judging panel was really impressive, with over 100 years of combined racing experience, not to mention some big names in sports car racing. Shootout drivers also had access to data comparisons and their in-car video in order to further their progress throughout the final day.”
The finalists for the ERA Championship’s Next Gen Racer Scholarship headed to Circuit Zolder recently for the scholarship’s assessment days.
“Next Gen Racer is an exciting, annual opportunity for talented racing drivers to showcase their abilities and secure a funded seat on the grid of the world’s first 100% electric entry-level formula racing series in 2023. Drivers were assessed on their ability to master the specificities of ERA and electric racing; energy regeneration, smart driving and energy management, their ability to progress and learn from coaching sessions, and media training.”
ERA co-founder Beth “Fox” Georgiou explains what makes the championship unique.
“I co-founded Software AG ERA Championship because I genuinely believe in bringing a sport rich in tradition into the world of today and the future, specifically in terms of sustainability, equality, and accessibility. Alongside my co-founders, I’ve made this my sole mission for the last 3+ years (great global event timing, I know). Considering that motorsport is a testing ground for the industry, it must stay ahead to remain funded and relevant, enabling our sport to thrive and build a next generation of participants and fans. This really requires us to think differently: Some examples include the fact that our cars are 100% electric and that we charge them at the race track using mobile batteries utilising clean energy. Our championship doesn’t go around the world. Instead we are focusing on creating multiple regional series on different continents. A more sustainable approach to being a “global” series. We work to minimise waste and plastics in our paddock and to ensure plant-based food options at every event. We are not perfect and we believe in being transparent. We aim to problem solve rather than green washing and I am conscious there are still many problems to solve! If you have solutions that can help us make motorsport more sustainable, I’d love to chat.”
Only time will tell if the new F1 Academy and the W Series can coexist according to Lizzie Isherwood, group director of CSM Sport & Entertainment, in speaking with Blackbook Motorsport.
“Investors now have a choice between a series that they know and a series with strong backing and ‘F1’ in its name. Only time will tell, but it certainly doesn’t make W Series’ issues any easier,” continued Isherwood.”
The announcement of the F1 Academy (the name of which I understand will encompass all of the development activities that F1 engages in, not just the female-only component) along with the financial troubles of the W Series have elicited a lot of comment on what should be done to encourage more female participation in motorsport.
In the article Women Are Not Barred From Racing in F1. So Why Can’t Any Crack the Grid?, Jezebel conducts a thorough, well researched deep dive into the question of the barriers facing women in reaching F1 and clearly explains the issues and possible solutions. They talked to 20 motorsports drivers, experts, and execs who “lay out the inherent sexism women face in Formula Racing—and the series’ weak attempts to do anything about it.”
“In F1, there are no rules barring women or people of other genders from competing against the mostly white, mostly wealthy male drivers. With vehicles as the great equalizer—making null most arguments claiming “physical differences”—the F1 playing field should, in theory, be even. While there are plenty of women drivers peppered throughout motorsports, it’s been 45 years since the last woman, Italian driver Lella Lombardi, raced in an F1 Grand Prix. The W Series, an all-women racing series that is unaffiliated with F1 but overseen by the same governing body, the FIA, had hoped to springboard drivers into Formula racing but will not finish its 2022 season due to lack of funding. As F1’s own CEO Stefano Domenicali said in September, “Unless there is something like a meteorite, I don’t see a girl coming into F1 in the next five years.”
With the news that Jamie Chadwick has signed with Andretti Autosport for the INDY NXT series (the former Indy lights), Emma Scott also tackles the same issue and asks the question, when will a female driver make it to F1?
After months of intense testing, training and competition, the winners of the third edition of the FIA Girls on Track talent detection program have now been revealed, with 15-year-old Belgian Aurelia Nobels winning the Senior category and 13-year-old Romanian Zoe Florescu Potolea emerging victorious in the Junior category following the final round of assessment at the famed Ferrari Driver Academy in Maranello.
Nobels, who won the senior group for drivers born between 2006 and March 31, 2008, has been offered a paid-for drive in Italian Formula 4 with Iron Lynx and a spot in the FDA. Italo-Romanian junior karter Florescu Potolea won in the Rising Star’s junior classification for younger drivers, and her reward is a FDA-funded factory Tony Kart seat for the 2023 CIK-FIA European Karting Championship.
Belgium’s national motorsport federation, the RACB, has named Yani Stevenheydens as the winner of its Road to Formula 4 scheme who will race in French F4 next year. This year the revived volant was contested by six drivers, the top three Belgians born between 2005 and 2007 in the X30 Senior category of the IAME Benelux series and in the BNL kart series’ Senior Max category, in a F4 shootout at Le Mans which was followed by a physical assessment. Overseeing the shootout were World Series by Nissan race-winner Bas Leinders, rally driver Marc Duez, Formula E champion Vandoorne and national team director Geoffroy Theunis.
Sam Balota, Noah Maton and Yani Stevenheydens reached the final from the IAME series, while Kai Rillaerts, Martijn Geyskens and Rhune De Breucker earned their spot through their BNL series and it was Stevenheydens who emerged from the shootout as victor, and his car will be decked in the colours of the RACB National Team in French F4 next season.
Wondering how to win the Aston Martin Autosport BRDC Award? Autosport has some tips. “The days of a finalist rocking up and saying, “Oh, this is quite a big deal” in surprise are over, but different levels of preparation are still apparent. Speaking to previous finalists to get an idea of the process is an obvious place to start.”
The 2022 edition of the award was won by Luke Browning.
Team BRIT is announcing a new racing project for disabled rookies. From 2023, the team will field 2 entries in the Citroen C1 racing series, beginning at Silverstone in March. The low cost endurance racing series sees drivers compete in standard, first generation Citroen C1s. The tightly controlled series allows no modifications to the engine or transmission – the goal being close racing for everyone on a budget.
The Team BRIT entry will consist of 2 teams of 4 drivers, one representing LGBTQ+ drivers, and a team of all-disabled drivers who require the use of hand controls. The team already confirmed will be made up of Anji Silva-Vadgama, a Team BRIT rookie who lives with multiple sclerosis, she will be joined by her wife Asha Silva who has ADHD and autism. Also on the team will be Yvonne Houffelaar, an experienced sim racer who has scoliosis, and her partner Sophie Aeronwen who is autistic. Drivers signing up to the project will receive professional coaching, tuition, testing and support throughout the season, entering all eight races.
In a related development, the FIA has launched Vehicle Adaptation Guidelines for disabled competitors. These Guidelines are intended to provide recommendations for the best practices for vehicle adaptations. They present high-level information on adaptations/systems that the FIA Disability and Accessibility Commission has studied in recent years. The Guidelines aim to provide best practices to people with mobility impairments working towards adapting their racing vehicle. They also give a reliable guidance to ASNs for their sanctioned motor sport competitions. More details can be found here.
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.
In If I Can Do It, You Can Do It, Paddock Sorority looks at the career so far of FIA Rally Star Driver Pragathi Gowda.
“Finally knowing what her calling was, there was no turning back for Pragathi. “I was quite impressed with the auto-cross event and my result. I was very happy with this first try. The adrenaline rush and the speed got me really thrilled. I kind of wanted to stay there. I know I can do much better if I get some good practice. From there on, it all started.”
Akhil Rabindra explains how he is thrilled to be part of India’s first-ever street circuit race. “Racing is a very expensive sport, and a lot of infrastructure is required. You need a lot of financial backing to be in the circuit constantly and that’s a challenge. But today, it has become a bit easier as Indian racers who are going abroad can help youngsters by raising money for them. Back in the day when the likes of Narain Karthikeyan were driving, it was difficult but now things have changed and the push that we have got is very good for Indian racers for the future,” Akhil said in an exclusive interaction with Sportstar in Hyderabad.