Launched in 2016 by Renault Sport Racing and Renault Sport Formula One Team, the Renault Sport Academy is tasked with discovering and nurturing young driver talent through the racing ranks, where, ultimately, Renault Sport Formula One Team aims to find drivers able to deliver the team world championship titles.
Drivers are selected on ability and potential, with the Academy able to draw upon Renault Sport Racing’s vast experience in motorsport as well as its global markets to find such talent. Mia Sharizman manages the programme and has a range of experience in motorsport including at Formula 1, Formula 2 and GP3 level.
For 2018, the Academy has retained four drivers from its 2017 intake. Jack Aitken, a member since its inception in 2016, signs for a third year, as does Sun Yue Yang. Max Fewtrell and Christian Lundgaard both impressed in their first seasons with the Academy and both remain for a second year.
The Academy is delighted to welcome three new drivers to the programme. As part of his prize for winning the highly-competitive Formula Renault Eurocup, Sacha Fenestraz has agreed to accept a place with the Academy. Arthur Rougier, winner of the 2017 French Formula 4 Championship, is on-board for 2018, alongside Victor Martins, runner-up to Arthur in his rookie season of single-seater racing.
Four members will go wheel to wheel in the Formula Renault Eurocup in 2018 with Max, Christian, Arthur and Victor all set to contest the exciting series that races on nine Grand Prix circuits, including the streets of Monaco.
Jack, runner-up in the GP3 Series last season, will make the step up to Formula 2 this year, whilst Sacha will line-up in the European Formula 3 Championship. Sunny will continue his junior formula development in the British Formula 3 series.
The Academy was specifically created to help develop young driver talent within the environment of Renault Sport Racing. All seven members will be able to utilise the state of the art facilities at the Formula 1 team’s base in Enstone to aid their progression up the motorsport ladder. Members will be educated across all elements that are required to make it to the top of Formula 1 including physical and mental training, media and marketing support, basic engineering and being taught the core vales and proud history of Renault in motorsport.
Renault has a positive track record of discovering and developing future Formula 1 talent. Robert Kubica, Lucas di Grassi, Pastor Maldonado, Heikki Kovalainen, Jérôme d’Ambrosio and Romain Grosjean are amongst some of the names to make a mark at the pinnacle of motorsport.
Cyril Abiteboul, Managing Director of Renault Sport Racing
"The Renault Sport Academy is a unique resource for Renault Sport Formula One Team as it allows us to find exciting racing drivers and develop them through the Renault Sport Racing pathway."
"We are looking forward to tracking the progress of Jack, Max, Christian, Sunny, Sacha, Arthur and Victor and we will be keeping contact close when they visit Enstone for their training."
"All seven drivers will reap the rewards of being a part of a Formula 1 team. Sessions on the simulator, as well as private Formula 1 test programmes will be critical for some of their progress and enables our engineers to understand their capabilities and plot a development plan. Attending Formula 1 test sessions and debriefs will allow the young drivers to be fully immersed in life as a racing driver and prepare them for the demands of a Grand Prix weekend."
"We look forward to working hard with all seven drivers of the 2018 Academy and seeing them flourish in their respective championships."
Mia Sharizman, Director, Renault Sport Academy
What are the main objectives of the Renault Sport Academy?
"The plan has always been to prepare the drivers to take on a Formula 1 seat in the future and win the team world championships. In order to achieve that, drivers have to show their talent and ability and be above the competition across junior racing categories. The immediate targets of the Academy are for drivers to fight for titles in their respective series."
What are your thoughts on the 2018 line-up?
"The line-up this year shows how far we have come in a short space of time. We have made good progress and we have a strong structure in place to utlise the talent in the programme. It’s important to have a strong base of drivers at the lower levels of racing so there’s a system in place to select the best drivers to progress to higher levels of racing. We have four drivers competing in Formula Renault this season, which is positive to see and we know we have some of the best talent out there."
Has the approach changed for 2018?
"The approach for this year is continuing on from last year, which focuses on a lot of off-track preparations such as simulations and physical and mental training. We want to enhance the transition between one season to the next and this year we will have a strong focus with on-track programmes, especially towards the end of the year when drivers begin to switch focus to changing championships. It’s always good to prepare drivers as much as possible during the winter, not only for this year but for next season too."
What’s in store for the 2018 members?
"We have a number of training camps planned which serve an array of purposes. We are excited to announce our collaboration with Aspire in Doha, Qatar, where our drivers will train in January. We will also have a mid-season training camp in August as well as various programmes with our various partners such as Formula Medicine and Base Performance Simulators. We want the seven members to work together and build on team work, instill communication skills and discipline and build loyalty to Renault Sport Racing."