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BAR to test top Formula Three talent 30 Nov 2004

Alan van der Merwe (RSA). Minardi F1x2 Street Display, Johannesburg, South Africa, 5 August 2004. World © McNeil/Sutton

Three stars of the British Formula Three championship will get the chance to drive for BAR this week as part of the team’s Young Driver Programme. 2004 series runner-up Adam Carroll, third-placed 2004 driver James Rossiter and the 2003 champion Alan van der Merwe will all get to sample the 006 at Jerez in Spain.

Carroll, Rossiter and van der Merwe were selected after hopefuls from various junior formulae were put through their paces by BAR at the start of the two-year programme, which was put in place at the end of the 2004 season. It is the first time that BAR has developed a structured initiative to evaluate new driver talent.

Nine drivers took part in a three-day assessment at BAR's Operations Centre during mid November. The group took part in a series of activities specifically designed to measure their current physical, mental and driving abilities, as well as their capacity for future development. The results were evaluated by a team of experts to determine those drivers with the most potential to benefit and develop from the programme.

The three successful drivers from the initial selection process have spent the last two weeks working closely with BAR’s senior race engineer Jock Clear, to prepare them for the Jerez test.

Clear, who is heading up the team working on the programme, commented: "The Young Driver initiative which we are putting into place at BAR is the result of a considerable period of careful planning and research. We have been working with the best in the business in terms of sports psychology, fitness and motivation, added to which is the input from BAR's engineering experts. The investment from the team has been substantial and so far we are pleased with the results seen and the commitment of all the drivers who have participated.

"We have a wealth of talent at BAR already, with race drivers Jenson Button and Takuma Sato, plus third driver Anthony Davidson and test driver Enrique Bernoldi. It is important to understand that this initiative is not about finding an immediate understudy to Jenson or Takuma. It is about developing the talent of the future on a structured two-year programme which will hopefully prepare them for the unique challenge of Formula One. The jump from the junior formulae is huge, however by guiding and supporting these drivers, we hope the long-term benefit will see them make the grade with BAR in the future."

The three drivers will each have two half-day sessions in the car at Jerez. They will get to experience the workings of a full Formula One test as Sato and Bernoldi will also be present working on the development of BAR’s 2005 car.

The team say they will be looking for the driver who has the most potential to develop over the next 24 months. They will be looking not just for raw speed, but also “the enthusiasm to listen and learn, the motivation and commitment to improve and the intelligence to make the most of the opportunity”.