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NOVEMBER 8, 1999

BRDC to back British drivers

THE British Racing Drivers' Club has announced plans to promote young British drivers in the hope of finding replacements for the current generation of British F1 racers, who are getting old. The retirement of Damon Hill, leaves Britain with only David Coulthard, Eddie Irvine and Johnny Herbert. Coulthard is the youngest at 28 years of age but Irvine is 34 this week and Herbert is already 35.

"We dominate the world with our racing car production and in so many aspects of motor racing," said BRDC director Martin Brundle. "We have dominated in the past as drivers too but we are slipping back from that."

The announcement seems to ignore the fact that there are actually a large number of good young British drivers trying to find their way into F1, notably Formula 3000 drivers Justin Wilson, Oliver Gavin, Jamie Davies, Kevin McGarrity and GarethÊRees. Peter Dumbreck has done well in Japan and in sportscar racing while over in America Dario Franchitti has starred in CART and Ben Collins, Johnny Kane and Guy Smith have all been active in Indy Lights. In addition there are a number of developing talents in Formula 3, notably the new British champion Marc Hynes, Jenson Button and MatthewÊDavies. With a dozen youngsters already trying to break into Grand Prix racing one can only conclude that the BRDC's plans to offer a $200,000 "scholarship" to the most successful British driver in the national class of the British Formula 3 series is really only a publicity exercise to try and improve the tarnished image of the club, which runs Silverstone.