Renault targets rising stars on back of Benetton F1 project

ONE of the great benefits of having major car companies involved in the front-line F1 business is the amount of encouragement they offer to promising stars of the future. McLaren-Mercedes have long supporter the flow of young talent into the upper reaches of the sport and now Renault is following down the same welcome route.

On 29/30 October the newly launched Renault Driver Development program will conduct its first evaluation of young driving talent with six potential stars of the future being assessed in Formula Renault and F3 cars. This has reassuring echoes of the famous Elf initiative of the 1970s/80s whereby promising young French drivers were given a leg-up the ladder. The most notable beneficiary of this largesses was undoubtedly Alain Prost, but there were several others who made it to F1 with such encouragement including Patrick Depailler and Didier Pironi.

The Renault Driver Development program promises to cast a wider and more cosmopolitan net. The six young drivers, who have been selected by RDD manager Bruno Michel, come from five different countries. The names you may hear of in the future are Fabio Carbone (Brazil), Robert Kubica (Poland) and Eric Salignon - who will handle the F1 cars at this test - plus Simone Iacone (Italy), Leonardi Orecchioni (Italy) and Carlo van Dam (Netherlands) at the wheel of the Formula Renault machines.

Their performances will be monitored and judged by a jury which includes former F1 winner Jacques Laffite, himself one of the Elf beneficiaries during the 1970s. A suitably appropriate appointment.

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