Two new faces and six from last year: the Ferrari Driver Academy students gathered this morning in the Maranello headquarters to get cracking on what looks like being a particularly busy year, as seven of the eight drivers are making their debut in their respective categories.
Two girls, six boys. Meeting this year’s class, were the head of the FDA, Marco Matassa and the Scuderia’s Team Principal, Frederic Vasseur and Racing Director Laurent Mekies. Missing from the line-up of two girls and six boys who make up this year’s intake was Maya Weug who is at Davos taking part in The Female Quotient’s Equality Lounge, discussing the topic of “Driving Equality Forward with the Women Leading in Motorsport”, which deals with how women pursue the concept of equality in motor sport. The two freshers are the Finn Tuukka Taponen, who won the FDA Scouting World Finals and has just returned from the UAE where he took two podium finishes from three of the Formula 4 races there and Brazil’s Aurelia Nobels, who won the 2022 FIA Girls on Track Rising Stars programme, both of whom will race in Formula 4 this year.
A busy week. During this first week, the youngsters will tackle the usual Camp over the course of four busy days with lessons in various subjects, as well as psychological and physical test, sports activities and a day’s karting run by long-time partner of Maranello’s young driver programme, Tony Kart, at the Franciacorta track. Over the course of the year, each youngster will receive personalised support from the FDA both on and off track. Activities are set depending on their specific level of experience and the category in which they will be racing.
Programmes. The Ferrari Driver Academy students will be racing in four categories. Oliver Bearman and Arthur Leclerc are both making the step up from Formula 3 to Formula 2. In 2022, they followed similar paths, taking a win each and staying in the fight for the title up until the final part of the season. The 17-year-old Englishman finished third and stays with the Prema team this year, while the 22-year-old Monegasque will be flying the flag for DAMS.
Formula 3. Last year, Dino Beganovic was the dominant force in Formula Regional, so it was natural for him to step up to Formula 3. The Swede, who turns 19 this Thursday, won four races last year. He stays with Prema and is aiming to fight for the title right from the start.
Formula Regional. The European Formula Regional championship was a successful hunting ground for the Academy and, in 2023, the Maranello marque will also be represented by two very quick drivers. 17-year-old Brazilian Rafael Camara made his single-seater debut last year and was truly impressive, taking six wins in the Italian, German and UAE Formula 4 championships, clearly demonstrating that he was ready to move up a category, racing with the Prema team. Alongside him, we find 18-year-old Maya Weug, the first female driver to join the Academy. She performed very well in the 2022 Italian championship and is now ready to tackle Formula Regional with the Kic Motorsport team.
Formula 4. Finally, we come to the newcomers, James Wharton and the aforementioned Aurelia and Tuukka. All three will race in Formula 4 and Wharton and Taponen have already been on track this season, taking part in the opening round of the UAE Formula 4 series, with both of them finishing on the podium. We hope all our students will have a great year with plenty of wins and podium finishes.
Marco Matassa Head of Ferrari Driver Academy
The start of a new academic year is always a very special moment. It’s good to meet up again with our existing students and even more special to open the doors to our new ones. It’s going to be a particularly demanding season because seven of the eight of them will be rookies in their category and so they face an even tougher challenge.
In 2022, we were back winning titles again and, for our part, we are ready to do our utmost, investing even more in terms of the facilities and personnel that we will put at the disposal of our youngsters, to help and support them in obtaining the results of which we know they are capable.
A special welcome goes to our newcomers, Aurelia Nobels and Tuukka Taponen, the latest graduates of our scouting programme. Aurelia joins the FDA from the programme we run with the FIA, which has already proved successful with Maya Weug, while Tuukka was the most outstanding of the youngsters who came to Maranello for the third edition of the FDA Scouting World Finals, where all those taking part were of a very high standard. We are looking forward to starting work with them and the other students in the hope that we have a successful year together