Mercedes bolster junior team with two signings

Jamie Woodhouse
A Mercedes logo outside their garage. Austin October 2021.

Mercedes-AMG Petronas logo emblazoned outside the team's garage. Austin October 2021.

Mercedes have added Daniel Guinchard and Luna Fluxa to their junior ranks as the programme expands for 2022.

The German outfit confirmed that British prospect Guinchard will make the step up from karting to the British Formula 4 Championship in 2022, continuing with Argenti Motorsport.

Guinchard’s karting achievements include taking the ADAC Kart Masters – OK Junior and Rotax Max Challenge International Trophy – Junior Max titles with Argenti in 2021, meaning he became the first driver to win two British championships in the same season.

11-year-old Spanish karting star Fluxa will understandably continue in the karting scene with Mercedes backing, the first female driver added to their ranks.

For Mercedes it means that their junior programme now features seven prospects, with the 2022 destinations for their other five racers also confirmed.

20-year-old Danish driver Frederik Vesti had already been confirmed as part of the ART Grand Prix line-up in Formula 2, where he will partner Sauber junior Theo Pourchaire for the 2022 campaign.

Estonia’s Paul Aron will represent Prema in the 2022 Formula Regional European Championship season, while Italy’s Andrea Kimi Antonelli will also compete for Prema in Italian Formula 4.

Yuanpu Cui and Alex Powell, like Fluxa, will continue in karting.

The Mercedes juniors have a perfect example within the team to look up to when it comes to their potential route into the F1 team, with George Russell earning a 2022 race seat alongside Lewis Hamilton, after three impressive seasons at Williams with Mercedes backing.

In a Mercedes press release, Gwen Lagrue, driver development advisor for the team, said: “It’s definitely a special year with the promotion of George, who was one of our first junior drivers since the young driver programme was reborn in 2016.

Lewis is one of the greatest sportspeople of all time and is an inspiration to all racing drivers, so it will be a brilliant opportunity for our juniors to get to know and look up to the seven-time F1 champion.

“It’s also special because we have recruited our first female driver to the programme, with Luna who won the European Mini X30 championship last year.

“We also welcome Daniel, who had an outstanding 2021 in go karts and will step up to British F4 this year.

“We now are present in almost every category of the motorsport pyramid, from go karting to F1, with a group of talented young drivers. And we are constantly working on preparing the next generation of F1 and motorsport stars.”

Mercedes Formula 1 team boss Toto Wolff added: “It’s going to be a really exciting year for our junior drivers, and we’re delighted to welcome them to our W13 launch on Friday [February 18] as part of our motorsport family.

“There are some familiar faces in the programme from previous years, looking to build on their strong progress, and there are also several new members of the programme who have joined us this year.

“It will be great to see how they develop in their first season with us.”

 

Mercedes know all about title success in Formula 1, having won the last eight Constructors’ Championships, as well as seven Drivers’ titles in the past eight seasons.

So, the team’s motorsport strategy director James Vowles hopes that there is a future champion among this crop of juniors.

“George joining alongside Lewis marks a significant milestone for our young driver programme,” he said.

“Every year, the programme has grown, and we are fortunate to have an incredible line-up across categories ranging from karting to F1.

“We’ll be working hard to provide the best support and environment we can, enabling them to focus on the job in hand and deliver their maximum potential.

“The Mercedes young drivers of today, will hopefully be our champions of tomorrow.”

 

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