Lotus has announced the formation of the Lotus F1 Junior team, a new initiative which will support young drivers working their way up the motorsport ladder.
The team will back seven young stars during the season ahead, giving them support in a wide range of areas, including driving skills, physical fitness and health and nutrition.
The seven will also be helped with things away from the circuit such as business ethics and PR training.
“Lotus F1 Junior Team takes our previous i-Race Professional young driver academy and builds on it to be more closely aligned with the Formula 1 team and all the benefits brought by this association,” Lotus F1 team principal Eric Boullier said. “We have announced seven highly talented drivers, many of whom will be competing against their fellow team-mates from the programme.
“We're offering an in-depth and highly beneficial training regime which should encourage these drivers to develop and perform at their very best. Motorsport can be very daunting for young drivers, particularly everything that occurs away from the track, so we hope to give our drivers the very best preparation possible for their future careers.”
The chosen seven, and their thoughts, are as follows:
Marco Sørensen 22, Denmark, FR 3.5 with Lotus World Series Team
“At the end of 2011 I was contacted by Gravity Sports Management and the Charouz team to take part in a World Series by Renault test. The deal was that I had to be quickest for them to take a closer look at me which was tricky as it was a big step up from Formula 3, so it's great to be here and I think this association with the team can only be good for my career in terms of exposure to the top levels of motorsport.”
Marlon Stockinger 21, Philippines, FR 3.5 with Lotus World Series Team
“It's a great feeling to be associated with such a prestigious team. If you look back through the years as Benetton and Renault you can see that this team knows how to win championships, so to be surrounded by that heritage is a big honour for me. I really want to make the most of it and am looking forward to wearing the team colours with pride.”
Alex Fontana 20, Switzerland, GP3 with Jenzer Motorsport
“I haven't been part of a management programme before and it's always tough for a young driver to find the backing and experience to help you progress. Being part of Lotus F1 Junior Team will definitely help to give me those things and it's great to have people really behind you, pushing you to do the best you can. I'm really looking forward to the season ahead.”
Oscar Tunjo 17, Colombia, Eurocup FR 2.0 with Kaufmann Racing
“It's a big motivation. Just being at Enstone, walking around the factory and learning from all the team members who have such huge knowledge of their respective areas is fantastic. On top of that, I've been working with people who have coached so many world class drivers over the years and their experience is something that has made a big difference to me already. It's a privilege to be part of the team.”
Esteban Ocon 16, France, Eurocup FR 2.0 with ART Junior Team
“I'm familiar with Enstone having been with the Gravity Sports Management programme for the last four years, but it's great to be associated with a team at the top level of motorsport. I'm trying not to think too much about the link to Formula 1 as it's important to focus on what you are doing now and not look too far into the future, but I think for any young driver that must be the ultimate goal.”
Alexander Albon 16, Thailand, Eurocup FR 2.0 team TBA
“It's great to be a part of this programme. Being at the factory in Enstone is an amazing experience and I'm looking forward to learning as much as I can from my time there. Hopefully this will give me an even better chance to progress over the course of the season and put me in good shape for the future.”
Dorian Boccolacci 14, France, Go Kart International KF category with Energy Corse
“It's great to be part of the team; being at the factory is a real experience and to be surrounded by people who have worked with the best drivers in the world means I have the best people to learn from. Seeing what another French driver, Romain Grosjean, has achieved with the team has also been a big inspiration to me and so to be part of the setup at Enstone is a big thing for me.”