Sauber Motorsport has launched a new junior academy aimed at finding the next generation of Formula 1 drivers.

In conjunction with the Sauber Karting Team, the Sauber Academy will provide up-and-coming drivers with a full pathway intended to lead drivers from grassroots levels to the highest tiers of motorsport, including F1.

Reigning F4 Germany champion Theo Pourchaire, Formula Renault Eurocup racer Petr Ptacek, Sauber Karting Team graduate Dexter Patterson, and Emerson Fittipaldi jr, son of two-times F1 world champion Emerson, have been named as the first drivers to enrol on the academy programme.

Pourchaire will be the highest-placed driver on the programme, with the 16-year-old Frenchman set to contest this year’s FIA Formula 3 Championship with ART Grand Prix.

All four members will be directly supervised by Sauber Motorsport sporting director Beat Zehnder and will be provided physical and mental training, technical work with the team’s engineers, media training and simulator work.

The programme will also include training camps during the winter off-season if health regulations permit so by then.

“Investing in young talent has always been a central part of Sauber Motorsport’s racing philosophy,” said Alfa Romeo F1 team principal and CEO of Sauber Motorsport AG, Frederic Vasseur.

“Our Academy is just the latest project aimed at unearthing stars of the future and guiding them through their career, giving them the tools, the education and the resources needed to succeed in the world of motorsport.”

The Swiss outfit has a proven track record of nurturing F1 talent, with Sauber handing grand prix breaks to the likes of Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel, Robert Kubica and Kimi Raikkonen.