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FDA - Young driver programme is ten years old


The Ferrari Driver Academy is ten years old and still expanding. The programme for young Scuderia drivers takes its inspiration, as is often the case, from a saying of our founder, Enzo Ferrari: Id like to think that Ferrari can create drivers as well as cars.

Thinking differently. Enzo was one for thinking outside the box, catching people out and pushing beyond the usual boundaries. He did it with his cars, through innovation and extremely powerful engines, which have always been a feature of the marque. He also did it with the drivers, most remarkably with Niki Lauda and Gilles Villeneuve, whom he put behind the wheel of a Scuderia Ferrari car when they were virtually unknown.

How it began. Today, as in the past, Ferrari believes in training its personnel and its young drivers. In 2002, Felipe Massa was given the chance to learn his trade calmly at the Sauber team in Formula 1, before making his debut with the Scuderia in 2006, alongside Michael Schumacher. The Brazilians good results were the springboard for establishing the Ferrari Driver Academy in 2009. The first student was Jules Bianchi, who had just won the Formula 3 Euro Series Championship.

First year. The programme really got underway in 2010, when Mirko Bortolotti and Daniel Zampieri joined, followed in 2011 by Sergio Perez, Lance Stroll, Raffaele Marciello and Brandon Maisano. Three years later, Antonio Fuoco came on board, 2014 saw the arrival of Guan Yu Zhou and two seasons later, Charles Leclerc and Giuliano Alesi.

The students. Giuliano, currently racing in Formula 2, is still on the books, along with fellow F2 racers, Callum Illot and Michael Schumacher. In Formula 3, we have Robert Shwartzman and Marcus Armstrong, with Enzo Fittipaldi tackling Formula Regional, while Gianluca Petecof is learning his trade in Formula 4.

The programmes. However, the FDA is not just a driving school. Its a genuine academy where the youngsters undergo physical training as well as learning about other aspects of motor sport that will be useful to them in their careers. Various subjects are covered with specialist tutors, including media training and management of social network channels. On top of that there are lessons on racing regulations, the history of the company and legal matters. Its a total immersion in the world of Ferrari, which over the years has seen Academy drivers progress and improve, in the case of four drivers to date, making it all the way to Formula 1. The best known? Without a doubt its Charles Leclerc, who now races for Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow.

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