Newly-crowned Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel returned to his Formula BMW roots on Monday 22 September when he visited the scholarship course for the new Formula BMW Talent Cup, which was being held at Cartagena in Spain.
Vettel raced in Formula BMW ADAC in 2003 and 2004, winning the title in 2004, before going on to make his F1 debut for the German marque's F1 team in 2007.
The 23-year-old was on hand to offer advice to the young drivers, as well as taking to the track himself in the FB02 car.
“For many drivers taking part in the series, Formula BMW is the first step from karting into formula racing,” he said. “The FB02 is a real racing car and also has everything a driver needs to get to grips with in more advanced racing series. I was Rookie Champion in 2003, and in 2004 took 18 out of 20 wins to finish as overall winner. That will always remain very special to me. Back then we would put a smiley sticker on the car for every win. By the end of the year the nose was almost completely covered in them.”
“I have a lot of great memories from those days and I made many friends who I'm still close to today. I was in Cartagena as an ambassador for Formula BMW. It was great fun getting back into my old car and clocking up a few laps without any pressure.
“The main thing is to enjoy what you are doing. Only then can you give that extra one or two percent that makes all the difference. That's my message to the girls and guys who are hitting the gas in the 2011 Talent Cup.”
The Formula BMW Talent Cup has been introduced for 2011 to replace the existing Formula BMW series in Europe and Asia. The scholarship qualifying allowed 17 young drivers to make their first steps into single-seaters. Instructors gave the drivers theoretical background before they went out onto the circuit for the first time. Sessions behind a leading car, practice starts and a free practice session allowed the juniors to familiarise themselves with the FB02 before completing decisive laps. Based on what they have seen them do, the jury selected the participants who have qualified for a place in the 2011 Talent Cup.
15-year old Stefan Wackerbauer from Germany impressed the instructors most in Cartagena, and will take part in the 2011 Formula BMW Talent Cup free of charge. The price for the season to all the remaining candidates who qualified is 100.000 Euro.
BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen said: “Congratulations to Stefan Wackerbauer for winning the 2011 Formula BMW Talent Cup scholarship. Stefan performed very well and proved his talent during the three days in Menteblanco and also here in Cartagena. He and the other competitors will gain a lot of experience in the 2011 season. The focus in our new driver development programme is on the individual progress of the young guns. That's why it will be interesting to watch the learning curves of the drivers.
“Thank you to Sebastian Vettel for taking time to visit the Formula BMW Talent Cup shortly after winning the Formula One title. Being a 2004 Formula BMW Champion, he was able to give the competitors some good advice. We also saw that he still feels perfectly at home at the wheel of the FB02 car.”