The “Ferrari Driver Academy”, recently set-up by the Italian team to find and support talented young racing drivers, has been nurturing four young drivers since its inception – all possible names to watch out for in the future.
The first driver to join the programme was Jules Bianchi. The young Frenchman is managed by Nicholas Todt, son of FIA president and former Ferrari team principal Jean Todt. He took part in the recent GP2 Asia series, driving for ART, and he will be competing in this season’s GP2 competition. He tested an F1 car for Ferrari at the young driver’s test in Jerez at the beginning of December 2009.
The other three drivers are Mirko Bortolotti, Daniel Zampieri and Raffaele Marciello, a trio of promising young Italians.
Reports from Maranello suggest that it has been an intense week at the Academy. Bortolotti, Zampieri and Marciello have been taking turns in the All-in Sport simulator at Modena, studying English, and taking part in training sessions – both physical and mental.
The drivers have also had the opportunity to take to the track this week. Marciello has driven around Fiorano in a Formula Abarth single-seater, while Zampieri and Bortolotti have been behind the wheel of a F2008 around Maranello. Jules Bianchi joined his colleagues at Maranello on his return from the GP2 Asia weekend in Bahrain, and will also be testing in the old Formula 1 Ferrari. Zampieri had driven an F1 car before, joining Bianchi in the young drivers test last December. This was Bortolotti’s first time in an F1 car since he was given a test in the F2008 in November 2008 around Fiorano.