The Motor Sports Association, the governing body of UK motor sport, has teamed up with Sky Sports F1 to put the spotlight on Britain’s next generation of potential Formula One stars.
No fewer than four homegrown drivers will be lining up on the grid for this weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone but the MSA, through its MSA Academy and Team UK programmes, is already grooming the future talent needed to maintain this country’s unrivalled record of success at the forefront of global motor sport. To date Britain has produced no fewer than 10 F1 World Champions, well ahead of Brazil and Finland tied in second place with three champions apiece.
Raising the profile of those young British racers best placed to uphold this domination in the years to come, the MSA organised a special karting event for the Sky Sports F1 cameras at the Daytona Sandown Park karting venue in Surrey. Those invited included all 12 British drivers currently competing in GP2 and GP3, the two series’ featuring on the supporting bill for Sunday’s British Grand Prix and widely recognised as the final two steeping stones into Formula One stardom. From GP2 came Sam Bird, James Calado, Jon Lancaster, Jolyon Palmer and Adrian Quaffe-Hobbs while Ryan Cullen, Jack Harvey, Melville McKee, Josh Webster, Lewis Williamson, Nick Yelloly and Dino Zamparelli are those making names for themselves among the current crop of young international prospects on 2013 GP3 grid.
The dozen GP2 and GP3 competitors were joined by ten members of the MSA Academy, all currently graduating through the ranks in junior single-seater formulae and karting. Jack Barlow, Ben Barnicoat, Ricky Collard, Jake Dalton, Sennan Fielding, Jordan King, Seb Morris, Matt Parry, Charlie Roberston and Chris Middlehurst have all been identified by the MSA as having the potential to be stars of tomorrow. Indeed it was two of the teenage karters – Collard and Barnicoat – who won the special karting event with GP2 race race winner Calado joining them on the final podium.
However, while the kart racing was predictably hard fought out on the track, the day was all about giving this group of gifted youngsters a chance to build their reputations in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
“While it’s all been a bit of fun at karting here at Daytona it’s also a great chance for Sky to give a well-deserved name check to the very best of British young talent,” explained former F1 winner Johnny Herbert who was fronting the filming for Sky Sports F1.
”In this day and age getting your name out there is an ever-increasingly important part of a modern racing driver’s life. It’s also vital for us all to help and promote our young drivers. This country is seen around the world as the home of motor sport and that’s something we should strive to protect. Schemes such as the MSA Academy are playing an important role in achieving this and it’s great that Sky is keen to lend its support, too.”
MSA Academy performance consultant David Brabham – like Herbert a former F1 driver and Le Mans winner – was also present overseeing the aspiring young prospects at Sandown Park. “Karting at levels is brilliant,” he said. “You learn race craft and how to drive quickly and consistently… all the things you need when you get into bigger single-seaters. This event, though, is all about generating some publicity. The more exposure these guys get the easier it is going to be for them to sell themselves, that’s why it’s brilliant that Sky is here today supporting this event and Johnny is here sharing his experiences, too.
While Brabham was unwilling to point out this country’s next World Champion, he was confident that some of those at performing would make it all the way to the top. “There are a lot of very good drivers here. It’s not that easy to get into f1 but if they keep winning races they will be noticed and have career,” he said before explaining how the MSA Academy is helping to groom the coming generation. “The Academy is designed to highlight those crucial areas of performance on which all young drivers need to work and thus ensuring they have the right skills should opportunities present themselves. In many ways motor racing is a little bit behind other sports in this area but the MSA has been very bold in moving forwards and making these innovations as, in the future, that’s the direction in which all sports are moving.”
The ‘Young Guns’ feature filmed at Daytona Sandown Park will be aired during the Sky Sports F1 Show hosted live from Silverstone at 8pm on Thursday evening.
25 June 2013