Young karter Emerson Fittipaldi Jr and German Formula 4 champion Theo Pourchaire are among the burgeoning talents chosen by Sauber to join its new young driver academy.
The Swiss outfit which manages Alfa Romeo's efforts in F1 has overseen in the past the development and nurturing of many successful young drivers such as Michael Schumacher, Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Kimi Raikkonen, Robert Kubica or Sergio Perez.
Up until last year, Sauber enjoyed an affiliation with the Charouz Racing System team, but the Hinwil squad has now set up its own independent development program, enrolling four young drivers for 2020.
"F4 Germany champion Théo Pourchaire, Sauber Karting Team graduate Dexter Patterson, Formula Renault Eurocup racer Petr Ptacek and karter Emerson Fittipaldi Junior are the first drivers selected to take part in the Academy programme, having access to Sauber’s expertise and know-how and taking part in a tailor-made development programme to complement their 2020 racing activities," Sauber said on Wednesday.
"Frenchman Pourchaire will make the step to FIA F3 in 2020, while Ptacek, who hails from Czechia, will continue in the championship that saw him claim multiple podiums in 2019. Scotland’s Patterson will make his single-seater debut in the Italian F4 Championship, while Fittipaldi, son of the two-times F1 world champion whose name he shares, will drive in the OK-J karting championship with the Sauber Karting Team."
"The Sauber Academy, born under the auspices of Team Principal and CEO, Frédéric Vasseur, and under the direct supervision of Sporting Director, Beat Zehnder, will provide the four inductees with the training necessary to progress on their way to their ultimate target, Formula One.
"This will take the shape of mental and physical training, technical work with the team’s engineers, media training and work on the simulator – both for F1 and for the drivers’ respective series – in order to develop a complete and well-rounded driver, capable of dealing professionally and successfully all the on- and off-track challenges a career in motorsport delivers."
At 14-years-old, Emmo Fittipaldi Jr, who enjoyed his first test outing in an F4 car last week, already has his sights on F1.
"I am very proud to be selected by the Sauber Academy along with these three very talented drivers," said the young karter.
"With the sponsorship and support of Brand Institute, and now being part of the Sauber Academy, I will have a better chance to achieve my dream of becoming a Formula One driver.
"The experience and expertise in motorsport from the Sauber team will help me learn much faster."