With Motorsport Australia partnering with the Ferrari Driver Academy, the news has certainly piqued the interest of young Australian drivers.
The new development program will give young Australians a chance to learn from the best and further develop their own skills, before eventually two successful drivers from the region each year will go up against other teenagers from around the world in a bid to secure a seat with Scuderia Ferrari for European Formula 4 the following season.
Arguably the most notable and storied Formula 1 team in the sport, as well as a being one of the most recognisable and prestigious sports car manufactures in the world, an opportunity to be part of the Ferrari family would be a dream come true for any aspiring teenager.
And while Ferrari hasn’t often been a brand associated with Australian drivers, Motorsport Australia’s own Tim Schenken was good enough to be part of its sports car program back in the 1970s.
Approached by the F1 Ferrari Team manager, Peter Schetty, at an Italian Grand Prix in the early 1970s, Schenken got to meet Mr Enzo Ferrari who was waiting at a nearby hotel to discuss his opportunity in 1972, where he was a part of a dominant season that saw Ferrari cars win a number of world championships.
Now, almost 50 years later, Schenken believes the opportunity available for young Australians to race for the ‘prancing horse’ could turn into a once-in-a-lifetime chance to reach the highest level in our sport.
“It’s a great opportunity and I think it shows where Motorsport Australia sits in the world of motorsport,” Schenken said.
“I think any involvement with Ferrari is a dream for anyone, not just a race driver. People aspire to be involved with Ferrari, so the academy opening up right here in Australia is incredible.
“The new driver academy gives these young aspiring drivers something to look forward to and a clear purpose to work towards.
“It’s interesting because like many other teams, Ferrari is now looking everywhere to find their next world champion, even as far as the most junior level of motorsport racing and karting. It shows they’re really keen.
“To be honest, I didn’t really appreciate driving for them when I was there, and it wasn’t until I retired when I realised what a great experience it was to race at Ferrari. I hope some young Australians are able to get that similar opportunity through this program.”
As someone with experience in the world’s biggest team, Schenken was confident endless opportunities would arise from any form of involvement with Ferrari.
“There are many benefits to getting involved – especially if a young talented driver can make it into their official program,” Schenken added.
“The opportunity to move through the FIA’s world championship tiers would be the main attraction. If a young driver does well in Formula 4, they are likely to be picked up by any team for Formula 3 or continue with Ferrari’s support.
“It would be a wonderful experience for someone to get involved with Ferrari in that sort of capacity, even if a driver doesn’t get to continue the development path with the team after their initial season.
“It would still be a massive learning curve and anyone involved in the team at a junior level would be able to branch out and do other things using the knowledge and experience.
“Should someone be able to put their involvement as a driver with Ferrari on their resume, it would look good regardless of the end result.”