Where are the next generation of British drivers?

Damon Hill's retirement from Formula One is already prompting worries over the dwindling British presence in motorsport's 'top flight'.

Damon Hill's retirement from Formula One is already prompting worries over the dwindling British presence in motorsport's 'top flight'.

The 1996 world champion brought the curtain down on his career at last week's season-ending Japanese Grand Prix and despite Eddie Irvine's brave but failed tilt at the title this year, questions are already being asked as to who will take over as Hill's successor in the hearts of the British public.

Irvine will be one of a trio of Brits lining up on the grid next season along with McLaren's David Coulthard and Johnny Herbert - who will be Irvine's team-mate at Jaguar, the re-badged Stewart Ford team.

But they are not getting any younger: Irvine is 34 next week, Herbert is 35 and Coulthard 28, and there is no-one immediately behind them to fly the Union Jack at the top of the podium.

So the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) met in London to launch a new initiative aimed at producing and nurturing British talent for the future.

The scheme, grandly named PowerTour, is geared towards making British motorsport more accessible for the spectator and easier to break into for budding drivers.

The main aim is to attract new fans by reducing admission prices and increasing national television coverage of events, therefore attracting new corporate sponsorship to the sport.

The funds gained from this are to be used to boost prize money and abolish event entrance fees for competitors, making the various motor racing formulae and classes a more attractive package for all.

Former grand prix driver Martin Brundle, now a commentator with ITV and a director of the BRDC, believes the current crop of young British talent shows promising signs for the future, but insists more drivers need to be coming through the ranks.

He said: "The story today is that there's nobody ready to take over immediately from Damon Hill.

"We've got three or four young guys who are on the slightly distant horizon that could well cut the mustard - but we need more.

"We need a much wider range of drivers in all the formulae to put Britain where it has been in the past and where it should be."

The former Benetton driver and Le Mans winner reckons the incentive is a positive step towards creating the environment needed to discover the drivers of the future.

"It needs kick-starting and although there's a lot more that needs to be done, it's nice to see the BRDC pro-active on it, giving new stepping stones and foundations to move forward from," said Brundle.

"It's good for the fans as well, they're changing the package and making a shorter programme with defined race times and involving radio and TV more.

"So it's going to be a lot easier for the drivers to get the sponsorship and there's no doubt about it that when you go to a sponsor and start talking about guaranteed terrestrial TV coverage you're on to a winner."

Brundle acknowledges that the immediate future of British interest in F1 is quite healthy with all three of our drivers occupying seats in decent cars next year.

"Certainly the Stewart Ford team, which morphs into the Jaguar team over the winter, will be strong with Irvine and Herbert," he said.

"Coulthard is obviously in a great car next year in the McLaren so in Formula One we're looking good.

"But it's not many years ago I was one of six British grand prix drivers and now we've got three - two of whom are moving towards the end of their career and one of them that's at least mid-career."

Brundle thinks the drivers whose F1 ambitions may well see them break into the sport in the next couple of years could include British Formula Three champion Marc Hynes, who is 28, teenage prodigy Jenson Button, 19, who came third in the same championship, McLaren test driver Darren Turner, 25, and Japanese Formula Three champion Darren Manning, 24.

He added: "There's three or four of them really, but when the spotlight comes on in Formula One it's not always predictable who will wilt under that light and who's going to draw energy from it.

"They are out there and hopefully there's a way of putting them through F3000 (the springboard for F1) and getting them F1 test drives."

Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker