Since their establishment in 2003, the Red Bull Junior Team have – very successfully – supported young talented drivers on their way to Formula One. With Niko Kari and Sérgio Sette Câmara the Red Bull Junior Team have two drivers on the grid of the 2016 FIA Formula 3 European Championship. Just before the start of the new season we caught up with them to find out more about their young driver programme.
Q: What is the reasoning behind Red Bull supporting young talents in motor sport?
Red Bull Junior Team: We believe in providing the opportunity for young talents in a very broad range of disciplines to develop their abilities and motorsport is just one of those. The Red Bull Junior Team has had the privilege of working with a large number of very gifted drivers since 2003. Hopefully they all look back on their experience with the Junior Team as a significantly positive benefit in the pursuit of their dreams.
Many Juniors have gone on to great things including Sebastian Vettel of course and now all four of our F1 team drivers: Daniel Ricciardo, Daniil Kvyat, Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen are graduates of the Junior Team.
Q: What does the young driver programme aim at? On which aspects / which areas does the driver training focus?
RBJT: The Junior Team is not a racing school, rather the drivers are placed in race teams with whom we have a well-developed association to compete in championships which are appropriate for the stage of their careers. They have the support of these teams to develop their abilities.
They can also draw on the experience and facilities of Red Bull Racing.
Q: How are drivers chosen for the programme? What are the criteria drivers have to fulfil?
RBJT: Drivers come to the Junior Team from all over the World, invited because of the abilities they have displayed in karting and/or junior formulae. There is no specification that a driver must match up to, it is a rather a broad display of early driving talent that excites future possibilities.
Q: What are the abilities drivers are expected to obtain when competing in FIA F3 EC?
RBJT: Max Verstappen learnt enough in a single FIA Formula 3 European Championship season to bridge the gap between karts and F1 so it is clear that the series provides a fabulous schooling for young drivers.
The intensity of the competition, the use of many Grand Prix circuits and the level of technology is very apt. Of course Max is an exceptional driver and no one series can do everything for all drivers but F3 has a history of excellent driver development.
Q: Are there certain skills they can pick up in FIA F3 EC which they might not learn in another series?
RBJT: The high level of competition and the high level of teams involved in the series mean that many young drivers are stretched much more than they were in lesser series and are working with experienced engineers and in a professional team environment for the first time.
Of course that is particularly true for those who have not taken many steps from karting. Wherever the drivers go after F3 they should have developed a good understanding of open wheel race craft as well as how to work in a professional team environment.
Q: What are the season goals for Niko Kari and Sérgio Sette Câmara?
RBJT: While Niko comes from F4 Sergio already has a season in F3 with Team Motopark under his belt so they are in slightly different situations. We are not stipulating goals for them, they will put plenty of pressure on themselves. As members of Team Motopark and with the backing of the Junior Team they have all they need for each to have a great season.