The Renault F1 Team is introducing a new young driver programme, which will be known as the ‘RF1 Driver Programme’. The initiative will give young drivers the opportunity to work closely with the team as they continue to develop their skills as professional racing drivers.
The new programme continues Renault’s tradition of supporting promising talents by investing in drivers who have already demonstrated their skills in the junior ranks. Drivers selected by the team to join the RF1 Driver Programme will continue to compete in the series they are already involved in for 2010 with clear performance targets. They will benefit from the support and guidance of Renault to help them develop as talented racing drivers.
For 2010 the RF1 Driver Programme includes Ho-Pin Tung, Jérôme d'Ambrosio, and Jan Charouz. Ho-Pin is also named Renault F1 Team Third Driver, while Jérôme and Jan will act as reserve drivers for the Renault F1 Team. They will have the chance to complete fitness training at Enstone, attend meetings, and observe the team at races and test sessions.
Speaking about the Programme, Team Principal Eric Boullier explained: “With the current testing restrictions, the challenge facing young drivers aiming to reach Formula One is tougher than ever. We therefore feel it is our responsibility to support them as much as possible by developing their skills both on and off the racetrack. It’s about helping them mature as individuals and racing drivers with the ultimate goal of getting them ready to make the step up to Formula One in the future.”
The class of 2010
Ho-Pin Tung Ho-Pin Tung joins the RF1 Driver Programme with a wealth of motorsport experience. He got his first taste of Formula One in 2003 when he tested for Williams after winning the Formula BMW Asia title. Since then he has won the German F3 crown and has competed in A1GP, GP2 and the Superleague Formula. Having tested for Renault in December 2009, he knows the team well and relishes the chance to continue his development. For 2010 he will compete in the GP2 Series with DAMS. His car will feature the Renault F1 Team colours.
Q&A with Ho-Pin Tung
You are the Renault F1 Team’s third driver and you’ve been selected for the RF1 Driver Programme in 2010. You must be delighted… HPT: "Since the day I started racing, Formula One has always been my objective. So to reach the pinnacle of motorsport and become part of such a famous team as Renault is an amazing opportunity. It’s really a dream come true for me, but it’s also the start of a new adventure. In many ways everything starts from now."
What is your objective for 2010? HPT: "I want to make the most of being part of the Renault F1 Team to learn as much as I can; to absorb everything around me and to become a better driver. But I also want to make a real contribution and whenever the team needs me, I will be ready to help. During my first test session with the team in Jerez last December, the engineers were impressed with my speed and the accuracy of my technical feedback. To gain their respect was always my main objective and I’m pleased I managed to do that."
Will your nationality be an advantage for the rest of your career? HPT: "My new position with Renault is excellent news for Chinese sport. China is new to motorsport, especially Formula One, even though there has been a Grand Prix in Shanghai since 2004. I hope that I can build on this base and count on the support of the many fans in China."
Jerome D'Ambrosio The 24-year-old Belgian joins the RF1 Driver Programme after two years competing in GP2. Prior to that he raced in European Formula Renault and International Formula Master where he was crowned champion in 2007. For 2010 he will race for DAMS alongside Ho-Pin Tung as he continues his apprenticeship in GP2. Like Ho-Pin, his car will boast the Renault F1 Team colours in 2010.
Q&A with Jérôme d’Ambrosio
How does it feel to be confirmed as a reserve driver for the Renault F1 Team? JdA: "It’s wonderful news. I’ve been working hard with my management team to achieve this result since the end of last season. As Ho-Pin said, to become a reserve driver is the culmination of an enormous effort throughout our careers, but it’s only the beginning of a new chapter and the serious work begins now. The support of Renault and the confidence they have shown in me means a lot."
Is there a rich motorsport culture in Belgium? JdA: "Of course. For starters we have the most beautiful circuit in the world! I grew up in the grandstands and then on the circuit at Spa-Francorchamps itself. Don’t forget that Belgian drivers have started more than 300 Grands Prix and have scored 45 podiums. I’d really like to join the prestigious group of drivers who have represented my country in Formula One such as Ickx, Boutsen, Frère, Mairesse. To be part of that list would be a real honour and I intend to work hard to get there."
What are your objectives for 2010? JdA: "I have three goals in mind. The first is to win the GP2 series title because after two seasons I feel ready to achieve this. The second will be to maximize the opportunity Renault has given to me to learn, observe and develop. My final objective will be to demonstrate my ability so that I can take another step forward in 2011 and hopefully take my place on the grid."
Jan Charouz Aged just 22, Jan Charouz is the youngest of the recruits to the RF1 Driver Programme. Already he has established his reputation as a top-line sports car driver having won the Le Mans Series title last year with Aston Martin Racing. Prior to that he enjoyed success in single-seaters and was crowned F3000 International Masters Champion in 2006. The association with Renault offers Jan the chance to compete in the World Series by Renault for 2010.
Q&A with Jan Charouz Jan, tell us what it means to be selected for the RF1 Driver Programme… JC: "The chance to be part of an F1 driver programme is a dream for any young driver so it’s a great honour to be given this opportunity. It will help me develop as a driver and give me a good understanding of how a Formula One team operates. To be involved with a manufacturer like Renault is so valuable and I will do everything in my power to repay the faith they have shown in me."
What are your plans for the 2010 season? JC: "My plan is to race in the World Series by Renault. That’s something I’m really looking forward to as the cars look really fun to drive and the Series visits some great circuits this year, like Spa and Silverstone, and there’s even a race at my home track in Brno [Czech Republic]. After a few years racing sports cars, I’m looking forward to getting back in a single-seater once again."
You must also be excited by the chance to work closely with Robert Kubica… JC: "For sure, the last time I met Robert was about ten years ago at an Italian go-kart race. He is a great role model who has already achieved a lot in his career so I hope to learn a lot from him. But I’m also excited by the opportunity to attend the engineers’ meetings and debriefs to see how the team works from the inside. It will be a completely new environment for me and I can’t wait to experience it."Source Renault