The Many Paths to Race Driver Development

This week’s Driver Development Roundup looks at the many paths to race driver development. I feature several series, events and drivers who explain how they are approaching the development of their racecraft and careers.

All this in this week’s edition of the Driver Development Roundup on Motorsport Prospects.

Driver Development Roundup

With the top classes of the FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship attracting the interest of a swathe of blue-chip manufacturers, the prototype racing ladder beneath Hypercar and GTP is experiencing a similar boom. Interest in LMP3 and LMP2 programs from aspirant young drivers has never been higher, with so many new seats in factory cars up for grabs for the cream of the crop.

Harper-Ellam is making the most of the ACO’s maturing ladder to the FIA WEC, which now features a clear pathway on its Europe-trotting package. It allows drivers to rise from the Ligier European Series to the Le Mans Cup and then European Le Mans Series in a highly professional environment, before being awarded high-profile drives within the FIA WEC and Le Mans 24 Hours.

After karting Harper-Ellam moved into Radical Racing in the SR1 Cup, which gave him a first taste of prototype racing. His successes in that arena – eight wins in 12 races and 12 pole positions – prompted him to pursue a drive in the ACO sphere.

“My time in Radicals started me down the sportscar route,” he explained to DSC. “I knew I wanted to do it after my Radical year. I was at the last ELMS round at Silverstone, walking up and down the paddock and knocking on doors.”

Harper-Ellam: Le Mans Cup Experience “Invaluable” Ahead Of Maiden ELMS Campaign (Daily Sportscar)

Driver Development Roundup

The transition from karts to cars can be a difficult one and one of the best paths to follow is that of F1600, a class that has been running for 56 years. One of the biggest opportunities for a young driver to compete against the best in this class is the Formula Ford Festival in the UK which just concluded last weekend.

Autosport talked to previous winners and the people who supported them to learn the secrets of success at the Festival.

“Confidence is key, but you have to find the right switch to turn it on,” says Vergers. “Every driver’s personality is different. To produce the best, you first have to understand what triggers belief.

“Yes, you need a good season behind you. You need to know who you’re racing and how to beat them, but you also need to be tuned into your car and trust in its response. The process of driving is quite simple, but the art of racing demands skill and perfection, lap after lap.”

Michael Vergers (Driver coach)

In the latest issue of Motorsport UK Magazine Revolution, six drivers share their journeys from Clubman to Interclub and beyond. “Grassroots motorsport offers plenty of action and camaraderie but what if you want to go to the next level? Will Grey asks six drivers how they did.”

Formula 1 has announced the calendar for the second season of the all-female F1 Academy series, which will start in Saudi Arabia next March. For next season every round will held alongside F1. The seven-round schedule will be spread across three continents, having only included one event outside Europe this year.

F1 Academy Managing Director Susie Wolff has stated that if the F1 Academy does not succeed in getting more women on the grid, nothing will.

I’m very conscious of this just not being a flash in the pan, something shiny new, and then it just dies away,” she said ahead of the series finale in Austin. “That would be a huge regret if that does happen. Because then there is no chance for wider diversity in the sport. I think, if this doesn’t function, nothing’s going to function.”

The Race explains that, despite not being chosen to join the F1 grid in 2016, aspiring F1 team LKY SUNZ is looking to build a grassroots approach to driver development. “For now, the door has been firmly shut on LKY SUNZ, but that doesn’t mean it’s giving up. It’s “reverse engineering” its approach, and will now look to start with motorsport academies across Asia and Africa. Even though LKY SUNZ has been rejected, Durand still believes it has a future within F1 and can help make a difference in improving diversity.”

Driven By Us

(Via Motorsport UK) Motorsport UK is delighted to hear James Dornor, founder of ‘Driven By Us’, the first ethnic minority Club to be approved by Motorsport UK as a recognized Club focusing on STEM, Media and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, has been awarded a Points of Light Award. Points of Light are outstanding individual volunteers – people who are making a change in their community. Every weekday the Prime Minister recognizes an inspirational volunteer with the daily Points of Light award.

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.