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GP Week : Issue 173
F1 >>> NEWS With no Italian drivers currently in Formula One, questions are being asked in the paddock concerning how to go about improving access to the top tier of motorsport for young talent from the European country. While Italy is not short of passion for motorsport, and is the country where the bulk of the grid learned to hone their racecraft in the junior categories, talented drivers have found it hard to progress through the single-seater ranks. “I am very sad that, after so many there will not be an Italian driver in the F1 World Championship field,” Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali said at the beginning of the year. “It’s a difficult moment for our sport, partly for external reasons. For a few years now, Ferrari through its Driver Academy, has established a long term plan to create a new generation of young drivers, which works also in collaboration with the [Italian motorsport federation ] CSAI.” Jarno Trulli, the last Italian driver in F1, was dismissive of Ferrari’s efforts when his own departure from the sport was announced, saying that rising Italian talent laced a proper support system. “In Italy there isn’t a system which helps drivers to emerge at high levels and it’s normal for things like this to happen,” Trulli said. “The talent is there, but if no one supports them, they have no hope whatsoever. I would like to see more involvement, on everyone’s part, but at a time of crisis like this in our country, I can’t see how a young driver can break through and find help in order to be considered by a team.” In theory, GP2 champion Davide Valsecchi should be in line for a promotion to Formula One. But given that it took the Italian racer five years to claim the title, paddock insiders think that such a move is highly unlikely, whatever confident statements Valsecchi may have made upon claiming the crown. “In Italy, they always say there is no Italian driver in F1 but, before now, who deserved it?” Valsecchi told ESPN in September. “Last year, we finished second with [Luca] Filippi, which was fantastic, but we were unlucky because it was second. The year before, no Italian, and before there was [Giorgio] Pantano, who was a great champion, but there was the story that he was in F1 before, and that maybe he was too old.... This year, there is another Italian champion [and] I really hope to have the chance because, at the moment, we are strong enough to use it.” One rising Italian star who might yet make it to the F1 big time is Kevin Ceccon, who this week impressed in the GP3 post- season test, in which he drove for Arden. Ceccon showed consistent pace on both days of the test, topping the timesheets in the morning on day one and the afternoon on day two, and never finishing below P3 in the standings. When the Jerez running was complete, Ceccon was comfortably fastest across all four sessions, with a 1.35.451s lap that was a second faster than the best time managed by any of his rivals. KEVIN CECCON: THE ITALIAN JOB 9 GPWEEK.com // 9 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: