Ferrari to Launch Young Drivers' Programme
“Our plan is to have a young driver programme connected to F1 in the future. In these times of cost-cutting, it's not easy to start a new programme, but we need good drivers for the future. Nothing is defined yet, but you will know details soon,” said Domenicali last week, days before the Chinese Grand Prix.
Although everybody thought of it as being the last issue on Domenicali's mind before the season's finale, it seems that the wheels are now in motion for speeding up things with the programme. According to sources within the Italian Racing Federation, Ferrari are more than likely to pick Mirko Bortollotti, Edoardo Piscopo and Salvatore Cicatelli as their new young drivers' lineup.
The three drivers finished on the overall podium of the Italian F3 championship this year, with Piscopo also having raced for A1 Team Italy in the World Cup of Motorsport in the past. Unlike other teams that run development programmes in the F1 paddock, Ferrari chose to go for Italian drivers. If one will 'pass the exam' and secure an F1 seat in the near future, he would become the first Italian to drive for the Scuderia since Ivan Capelli in 1992.
Currently, there are four teams running young drivers programmes inside F1. Some of the most promising young stars that are now running in GP2 Series (main and Asia), A1 GP or F3 Euroseries have already signed deals (or are very close to signing them) with F1 teams: Romain Grosjean and Lucas di Grassi at Renault, Kamui Kobayashi at Toyota, Luca Filippi at Honda or Sebastien Buemi at Red Bull.