Aston Martin could start their own driver academy

Date published: October 3 2021 - Finley Crebolder

Otmar Szafnauer in the Zandvoort paddock.. Netherlands September 2021

Otmar Szafnauer says Aston Martin could consider setting up their own driver academy in the near future.

The British team are currently one of the few outfits on the grid not to have any sort of academy with Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren, Alpine, Williams and Alfa Romeo all having their own junior drivers in their ranks.

It has paid dividends for many of them with Max Verstappen, George Russell, Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc all now among the best drivers on the grid.

As part of their goal to become World Champions in the next five years or so, Aston Martin are open to pursuing such a strategy themselves in the future but have not thought about it much yet.

“That’s a good question,” Szafnauer said, quoted by GPFans.

“There’s a lot to do here to grow into a championship-winning team and a lot of the bigger teams have those programmes underneath them.

“We haven’t really given it much thought but I think in the future we should look at that as part of our entire capability.”

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However, the team principal expects recruiting young talents to be difficult given how many other academies are already set up.

The solution to that, he says, would be either to hire drivers at a very young age, pre-karting, or focus on becoming a top team so they will want to join when they are older.

It has not been decided yet which strategy they will commit to.

 

“You’ve got to start early,” Szafnauer added. “I’m sure the competition for the best drivers, the best karters will be high given everyone else has young driver programmes in place already.

“So the option is to start young, hire them early. Either that or make it so attractive to them when they are ready to come into Formula 1 that they come knocking on your door anyway.

“So that’s the two routes and so far we haven’t entertained having one, but I think we should consider it for the future. I don’t know what’s best right now.”

The need for young drivers will surely become all the more pressing in the near future with Sebastian Vettel entering the last years of his career.