For the eleventh season, another year of study for the youngsters chosen by the Scuderia to attend its Ferrari Driver Academy has just got underway with the usual kick-off week.
Nine pupils. In the academy’s headquarters, in the heart of the Gestione Sportiva at Maranello, nine young drivers from eight different nations form this year’s FDA student body. From France, there’s Giuliano Alesi, from New Zealand, Marcus Armstrong, while Enzo Fittipaldi and Gianluca Petecof both hail from Brazil, and then there’s Mick Schumacher from Germany, with British driver Callum Ilott and from Russia, Robert Shwartzman. There are two new faces this year, from Monaco, Arthur Leclerc and from Sweden, Dino Beganovic.
Down to work. After the traditional start-of-term photo, the drivers were soon tackling their first day of class. This year’s work programme is more extensive than ever before, when it comes to driving but also everything that goes on around that. Along with the usual lessons linked to the world of racing, such as knowing the latest FIA regulations and the basics of motor sport, vehicle dynamics and strategy, new course have been added this year, addressing other aspects of the life of a professional racing driver. This week’s sessions are only the first in a series of courses the youngsters will tackle in Maranello, sometimes all together and in some situations in smaller groups based on their experience levels.
New courses. Other topics include interacting with and managing media, including social channels, as well as how to handle sponsor and partner events, both personal and for their teams. These days, topics such as this are almost as important as on-track performance. In their first week, students will also undergo a medical, be given advice on nutrition, as well taking Italian lessons before ending with an assesment test.
In 2020. The nine FDA students are in for an exciting 2020. Five of them are competing in Formula 2: Alesi (with HWA Racelab), Armstrong (ART Grand Prix), Ilott (Uni Virtuosi), Schumacher and Shwartzman (Prema Powerteam). In Formula 3, the academy is represented by Fittipaldi (HWA Racelab); while Formula Regional is where to find Leclerc and Petecof (Prema Powerteam). As for Dino Beganovic, the youngest at just 16 years old, he will make his single-seater debut in Formula 4 with Prema Powerteam.