Anthony Hamilton, the man who literally made Lewis Hamilton (with some help from Lewis’ mum) has set about discovering the next generation of F1 stars.
Having worked three jobs and invested all of his money in young Lewis’ career you’d think Hamilton senior had already contributed enough to creating F1 superstars. But no, he’s at it again, though this time by rather different means.
Firstly, he’ll be managing the career of McLaren’s latest signing, 14 year-old Dutch karting sensation Nyck de Vries. Yep, you read right, he’s 14 and already on McLaren’s books. Remind you of anyone?
Exactly how much Hamilton can do for de Vries at this stage, aside from telling him not to stay up all night playing X-Box when he has a race the next day, isn’t clear. What we do know is that this kid has won pretty much everything he’s ever entered, and the connection with McLaren and Hamilton will be a big boost to him- as well as adding a fair bit of pressure. Expect to see his name moving up the junior categories over the next few years.
Secondly Anthony’s hit on a bright idea- exploit that pesky testing ban. With young drivers like Jaime Alguersuari and Romain Grosjean entering F1 without recent track time last year there was a clear need for extra testing for young drivers. Stefan GP have talked of doing this with their recently purchased Toyotas, but you have to believe Hamilton- with his McLaren connections- is better placed to make a success of it.
He’s called it GP Prep and the plan is to lease year-old cars from F1 teams and charge young drivers to test them, most likely on circuits in Britain. ‘There are guys who don’t get a look in. The idea with GP Prep is to provide more of an opportunity for young drivers to be spotted’ Hamilton said.
But it wont be cheap- about the price of a weekend’s racing in GP2 in fact. Which begs the question, if you want to get spotted why not just go race in GP2? Okay, it’ll be handy for drivers about to enter F1, but in terms of making a name for yourself a season of racing is surely better.
In truth, this plan isn’t as much about giving young racers a shot as Hamilton may have us believe. With the cost being so high it’s hardly going to attract some poor but talented racer who can’t move up the ladder due to a lack of funds. Who it’s really aimed at is a driver on the verge of F1 with backing from a team or sponsor- like Grosjean and Alguersuari in 2009. Their teams would no doubt have forked out to give them some extra testing miles prior to their F1 debuts. Hamilton may say it’s about giving people a chance to get spotted, but they’ll have to have pretty big backing to even have that chance.
But this one’s not exclusively for the kids- it’ll be open to anyone not currently racing in F1. So last summer Michael Schumacher could have used GP Prep to get back in to the F1 groove, before realising that ache in his neck was a lot worse that he’d first thought.
In the interest of fairness around four different teams would be leasing cars, with test data shared freely among the teams so no one gained an unfair advantage. With FOTA apparently aware of GP Prep and in support of it there seems a good chance Hamilton will be getting it underway pretty soon, and the idea does have potential. Do you think it’s a good way of helping young drivers path to F1? Let us know what you think.