Talented young drivers, including those making the step up from karting, will once more have the opportunity to acquire track experience and to develop their skills as the 2012 ADAC Formel Masters season gets underway.
Youngsters from the age of 15 upwards will be able to follow in the footsteps of Timo Glock, Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel and other top names in the sport who began their careers in one of the junior competitions staged by Europe's largest motorists' association, the Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club. "The ADAC opened up a new era in junior racing back in 2008"; says ADAC Sport President Hermann Tomczyk. "With the Masters, our association offers upcoming drivers an excellent opportunity to learn the basics of single-seater racing. I am convinced that our involvement in open-wheel racing that began in 1991 will continue to go from strength to strength."
The regulations for this new formula series have been tailored to the specific needs of young drivers. The Dallara monocoque has been constructed with safety as a priority and is powered by a 145hp 1.6-litre engine supplied by Volkswagen. Every vehicle on the grid will also be identical in all other key technical respects. "For the past ten years, ADAC and Volkswagen have enjoyed considerable success in bringing on young talent in the touring car segment with the former Lupo and Polo Cups and with the Scirocco R-Cup," says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "So we are all the more pleased to be continuing this strong partnership in single-seater racing too. Our 145hp 1.6-litre FSI engine is both powerful and reliable, and therefore the ideal drive unit for high-performance yet affordable junior open-wheel racing."
Right from the start, the younger driver has a vehicle that complies with the same high safety standards that are applied in Formula 3 and offers every race contestant the identical technical specification. Perfect conditions, in fact, for young drivers to develop their understanding of vehicle setup and to enhance their racing skills. The price of the car is also fair: it costs 49,900 euros and can be ordered from ADAC Motorsport in Munich.
The way the ADAC Formel Masters has been organised also serves to help young drivers progress in their career. No fewer than 24 races spread over eight weekends on the calendar provide plenty of driving practice under competition conditions. The ADAC has also established a generous EUR 100,000 treasure chest to ensure that the prizes are well worth competing for. Furthermore, the top three in the championship table at the end of the season will be invited to test drive for the ATS Formula 3 Cup.
With the introduction of the Formel ADAC single-seater as a sort of 'learner vehicle' for the Grand Prix drivers of the future, ADAC is building on its highly successful youth development programme of recent years. "The ADAC can point with justifiable pride to its achievements since 1991 in the area of junior single-seater racing," says Hermann Tomczyk. "Formula 1 drivers such as Ralf Schumacher, Nico Rosberg, Timo Glock, Adrian Sutil, Christian Klien, Sebastien Buemi, Nico Hulkenberg and two-time world champion Sebastian Vettel are the products of the talent promotion scheme that we operate in conjunction with BMW." No fewer than one in five of the current crop of Formula 1 drivers learned their trade in a junior series run by Europe's largest automobile club.
Reason enough for the ADAC Sport President to draw positive conclusions concerning the work done by the association in encouraging the star performers of tomorrow: "It all began in 1991 with the ADAC Formel Junior Championship. Then in 1998, we had the Formel ADAC and the Formel ADAC Junior Cup. The good work continued in 2002 with the Formula BMW ADAC Championship, and more recently in 2006, the Formula BMW Deutschland was launched. These competitions were all joint ventures between the ADAC and BMW. Yet the organisation of successful series for young drivers was just one part of a programme designed to accomplish so much more. "These talented young people not only benefited from our knowledge and expertise over the years but were also given considerable financial backing," explains Hermann Tomczyk.
And the results speak for themselves: "The fact that an independent national body such as the ADAC undertakes such an intensive youth development programme is probably unique in international terms," says ex-Formula 1 driver and motorsport expert Christian Danner. "The Germans are the envy of the world for the way they bring on their young driving talent. It is no coincidence that we have five or six German nationals (depending on how you count them) currently competing in Formula 1."