Volkswagen Power as a career booster: When the new Formula 1 season opens in Australia on Sunday the grid will include two up-and-coming young drivers who managed to make their way into the class at the pinnacle of motorsport with engines from Wolfsburg.
By clinching the title in the British Formula 3 Championship the Australian Daniel Ricciardo (2009) and the Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne (2010) made decisive upward moves on the career ladder. The two Toro Rosso racers are not the only talents though who managed to ascend to a top racing category thanks to their successes with Volkswagen.
"Formula 3 remains one of the most important junior classes in motorsport. The sophisticated technology, complex vehicle set-up and development plus the high competitiveness make Formula 3 an ideal talent incubator,”says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "Volkswagen has a long, successful tradition in Formula 3. In the 1980s and 90s, racers like Winkelhock, Schumacher or Kristensen laid the foundations for their successful careers with Volkswagen Power while today Ricciardo, Vergne or Mortara are stepping into the spotlight. We're taking our role as a promoter of young racers very seriously and are continuing our commitment in Formula 3 – for instance with completely new approaches such as the push-to-pass system in the German ATS Formula 3 Cup that will make more overtaking maneuvers and even more thrilling races possible.”
Formula 3 exploits as a supreme reference for moving up
Daniel Ricciardo (22) and Jean-Eric Vergne (21) in the Carlin Volkswagen customer team dominated the British Formula 3 Championship, thus impressively recommending themselves for an ascent into higher categories – Ricciardo took six wins in 2009, and Vergne as many as 13 a year later. In 2011, the third consecutive British champion with Volkswagen Power was Felipe Nasr (Brazil), who in future will be on the grid of the GP2 Series as part of the Formula 1 supporting program. Although the Dane Kevin Magnussen (19) had to admit defeat to his team-mate and brand colleague Nasr in the battle for the title he is now directly supported by McLaren and scheduled to take his first Formula 1 test later this year.
The line of successful climbers is much longer though. The Italian Edoardo Mortara (25), after winning the title in the Formula 3 Euro Series and scoring two victories at the famous Macau Grand Prix switched to Audi in the DTM, and is regarded as a future candidate for the title by many experts. His former team-mate in Volkswagen's Signature customer team, Marco Wittmann (22) from Markt Erlbach (Germany), as a DTM test driver and factory driver in GT racing managed the leap into the professional camp as well. In this category, he might be meeting another former team-mate – the Belgian Laurens Vanthoor, the 2009 ATS Formula 3 Cup title winner with Volkswagen, is competing for the WRT Audi team in the FIA GT1 World Championship.