Sim Racing Is Becoming a Legitimate Race Driver Development Path

If it has not become clear by now, sim racing is becoming a legitimate race driver development path. This week I bring you details on a new program that could very well accelerate the trend.

In addition to that, this edition of the Driver Development Roundup has details on the new F1 Academy Discover Your Drive Program for female race drivers as well as news on driver development programs from Ligier Automotive, Mclaren Racing and Toyota.

All this and much more in this week’s Driver Development Roundup column on Motorsport Prospects. Its news future racers can use.

Racing Prodigy Radical Race Car

I mentioned this just before I left for holidays and talked about it in my Sim Racing Roundup column. As I have made abundantly clear in my Sim Racing Roundup columns, I firmly believe that sim racing can offer a genuine development path to real-world motorsport, and I have proven this with multiple examples week over week.

On June 1st, Racing Prodigy announced the launch of the Prodigy Racing League which is using esports as a pathway to real-world racing. Registration opens today for the first iRacing esports tournament, starting June 19, with additional tournaments planned across Street Kart Racing, rFactor 2, and RaceRoom over the summer/fall. This could be a gamechanger. Full details are available in my post.

I have also included some further coverage both on Racing Prodigy and some additional context on the role that sim racing can and will play in identifying future motorsport talent.

iRacing F4 Race Car

Continuing my theme of using sim racing as a pathway to real-world motorsport, iRacing has announced an official partnership with the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) to bring a licensed FIA Formula 4 experience to iRacing. As part of the agreement, the car currently known as the iRacing Formula iR-04 will be relaunched as the FIA F4 with iRacing’s 2023 Season 3 release in June.

From the Press Release:

Nikolas Tombazis, FIA Single Seater Director said: “This partnership with iRacing is an important step for grassroots motor sport development. The virtual racing space is a key area for the FIA in its goal to double global participation in motorsport, both as a discipline in its own right and as a route into real-world competition. The next generation of racing drivers is already highly engaged in this arena, which removes many of the historical barriers to entry by being low-cost and easily accessible, opening up possibilities to increase diversity and engagement in new and emerging markets. Formula 4 Championships, Certified by FIA, represent the first step for drivers to move from karting to car racing, and to have a highly-respected industry-leading partner in iRacing bringing this global framework online is fantastic news.”

The FIA Formula 4 platform was announced in 2013 in advance of a 2014 debut, and has grown in popularity around the world as the ideal first step on the global open-wheel racing ladder. Featuring a diverse range of chassis and engine manufacturers, each F4 car is capped at 160 horsepower to ensure equal performance around the world. Formula 4 Championships, Certified by FIA, now take place across four continents and have been established by FIA member organizations.

iRacing’s version of the FIA Formula 4 car benefits from the same level of analysis, detail, data, and testing as members have come to expect, while the genericized model allows for use by FIA member clubs worldwide without manufacturer conflicts. iRacing offers multiple public series featuring the FIA Formula 4 to its more than 200,000 active users, with options for both custom setups and fixed performance. Dozens of real-world FIA Formula 4 host circuits are already available on iRacing, with more to be added in future releases.

For more information on iRacing and for special offers, visit

Sim Racing Is Becoming a Legitimate Race Driver Development Path

In the video above, Enzo Mucci explains the technique behind his daily reset for the mind. “Take the time to mentally reset so you can help improve your mental health and be at your best each day. This has been a mindset gamechanger for me over the years. Great for busy and stressed out people.”

Sim Racing Is Becoming a Legitimate Race Driver Development Path

F1 Academy has launched F1 Academy Discover Your Drive, a global initiative aimed at increasing the female talent pool in motorsport both on and off track.

With a focus on the four pillars of Youth Engagement, Talent Identification, Participation & Progression, and Community, the initiative will offer girls and young women the opportunity to take part in entry-level programmes and professional schemes to promote and enhance female participation in the sport.

The program will be operated by Motorsport UK, the governing body for four wheeled motorsport in the UK, utilizing the organizations experience in talent development through its Academy program, and TeamSport Karting, which operates 35 karting venues across the country.

Susie Wolff, the Managing Director of F1 Academy states that while she believes that there will be a female F1 driver in the next 10 years, she is also emphatic in stating, and rightfully so that “if you can’t see it, you can’t believe it.”

Green Racing News explains how the FIA’s “Girls on Track” Program strengthens Formula E. “One of the great prizes of sustainability and sustainable mobility is the inclusion of women in all activities related to these areas. That is why Formula E, true to its principles, has a program dedicated to the participation of women.”

Sim Racing Is Becoming a Legitimate Race Driver Development Path

Ligier Automotive, a manufacturer present at every level of the endurance racing pyramid, from the Ligier JS2 R to LMP2 has launched the Ligier Junior Program. The program aims to create bridges between different championships, enabling young talent to progress in endurance thanks to a unique prize system. Highlights of the program are:

  • Bridges between different championships to join the endurance pyramid of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO).
  • A prize to join the JS P4 category in the 2025 Ligier European Series for the winner of the Junior classification in the 2024 Ligier JS Cup France.
  • This award is in addition to the €250,000 offered to the JS P4 and JS2 R champions in the Ligier European Series.
  • Prizes renewable each year to ensure the long-term future of the Ligier Junior Program.

More details can be found here.

Formula Scout looks at the philosophy of McLaren’s relaunched driver development program. Program manager Emanuele Pirro is quick to stress that the program is focused on driver development rather than being an academy for junior drivers.

We don’t like to use the word ‘junior’ because also with Indy[car] and Formula E and those guys, you would offend them if you called them juniors.” The scope of the program reflects Pirro’s belief that everyone, no matter who, can always improve themselves.

Toyota has relaunched its FIA World Endurance Championship young driver ‘Challenge’ program and announced Super GT race winner Ritomo Miyata as the current member. In addition to announcing Miyata as a WEC Challenge junior, Toyota also held a training session for some of its young drivers at Le Mans.

Episode 46 of the Your Data Driven Podcast has a great interview with race driver Nick Padmore called Thriving at the Edge: Lessons from a Life in Racing.

Today we have a fantastic guests lined up for you – racing driver and coach Nick Padmore. From the high uptime world of racing to the intricacies of car dynamics, we’re going to delve deep into a range of topics that will hopefully give you a range of new perspectives to apply to your motor sport. So much to take away from this conversation, not only about the racing, but also how to manage the practicalities of life, including with your family, in a racing environment. So as ever. Grab a pen. Grab a coffee. Sit back and enjoy what Nick has to say.”

Women in Motorsport Magazine

A new magazine called Women in Motorsport Magazine is now on sale. You can order it here.

TC America provides some details on how the Skip Barber Racing School offers a path to turn pro with SRO.

For many, SRO America and Skip Barber Racing School’s relationship is personal because it involves chasing a dream, not just playing a sport. Skip Barber Racing School offers a pathway to that dream through their 3-Day and 2-Day Advanced Racing Schools, where graduates are eligible to earn their TC America competition license through SRO America.”

Green Racing News has the details on the five new candidates for Extreme E’s “Racing for All” Initiative.

This program focuses on breaking down barriers and attracting those who might not otherwise have access to these opportunities, with a particular emphasis on encouraging participation by women, ethnic minorities and people from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds.”

NASCAR has announced its 22nd NASCAR Diversity Internship Program (NDIP) class of undergraduate and graduate students.

The class of 37 students will participate in a 10-week program that offers hands-on experience across various roles in the motorsports industry.

“This year, we’re welcoming another exceptional class of college students eager to learn about our sport,” said Brandon Thompson, NASCAR’s Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion. “As a graduate of NDIP, I know firsthand how crucial it is for students to have exposure to professional sports opportunities. We’re excited to welcome this year’s class and look forward to seeing them grow this summer.”

NDIP is open to college students who fit academic requirements and are Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Latino or Hispanic, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.

You can see the full list of students here.

Mark Boudreau
Author: Mark Boudreau

Mark is the publisher of Motorsport Prospects. As a former lawyer, he applies his legal background and research skills to assist race drivers by showcasing the resources they need to make their motorsport careers happen.