Lotus F1 Team is proud to announce its roster of drivers for the newly launched Lotus F1 Junior Team. The seven drivers announced today will be supported by the team in all areas of driving skills, physical fitness, health and nutrition, social and mental development, business ethics and principals, as well as PR training.
The seven drivers will contest within a variety of motorsport championships from the World Series by Renault Formula Renault 3.5 Series through the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 to KF category karting.
Eric Boullier, Team Principal, Lotus F1 Team;
“Lotus F1 Junior Team takes our previous i-Race Professional young driver academy and builds on it to be more closely aligned with the Formula 1 team and all the benefits brought by this association. We have announced seven highly talented drivers, many of whom will be competing against their fellow team-mates from the programme. We’re offering an in-depth and highly beneficial training regime which should encourage these drivers to develop and perform at their very best. Motorsport can be very daunting for young drivers, particularly everything that occurs away from the track, so we hope to give our drivers the very best preparation possible for their future careers.”
The 2013 Lotus F1 Junior Team
- Marco Sørensen, 22, Denmark, FR 3.5 with Lotus World Series Team
- Marlon Stockinger, 21, Philippines, FR 3.5 with Lotus World Series Team
- Alex Fontana, 20, Switzerland, GP3 with Jenzer Motorsport
- Oscar Tunjo,17, Colombia, Eurocup FR 2.0 with Kaufmann Racing
- Esteban Ocon, 16, France, Eurocup FR 2.0 with ART Junior Team
- Alexander Albon, 16, Thailand, Eurocup FR 2.0 team TBA
- Dorian Boccolacci, 14, France, Go Kart International KF category with Energy Corse
Q&As with the 2013 Lotus F1 Junior Team Drivers
Marco Sørensen – Denmark – World Series by Renault
How did you come to be involved with the Lotus F1 Team Junior programme?
At the end of 2011 I was contacted by Gravity Sports Management and the Charouz team to take part in a World Series by Renault test. The deal was that I had to be quickest for them to take a closer look at me which was tricky as it was a big step up from Formula 3, so it’s great to be here and I think this association with the team can only be good for my career in terms of exposure to the top levels of motorsport.
What are your targets for this season in World Series by Renault?
I had some bad luck last year where mechanical issues ended my race whilst in the lead which meant P5 in the championship when it could have been more. At the end, it all comes down to results; if you don’t perform then you won’t progress, so I’m hoping for a bit more good fortune this year and am looking forward to taking on a new challenge with the Lotus F1 Junior Team.
Marlon Stockinger – Philippines – World Series by Renault
How significant is joining the Lotus F1 Junior Team programme to your career?
It’s a great feeling to be associated with such a prestigious team. If you look back through the years as Benetton and Renault you can see that this team knows how to win championships, so to be surrounded by that heritage is a big honour for me. I really want to make the most of it and am looking forward to wearing the team colours with pride.
It’s a big year for you making the step up to World Series by Renault; what are your thoughts heading into the season?
Of course, every driver wants to win, but I understand it’s a big step moving into a new category so learning is the most important thing. Starting with testing, I need to take in as much as I can and from there it’s all about consistency and building a strong platform to progress through the ranks. I’m aiming to make a good start and develop as much as I can as the championship progresses.
Alex Fontana – Switzerland – GP3 Series
Being part of the Lotus F1 Junior Team must be a big boost to your ambitions?
Definitely! I haven’t been part of a management programme before and it’s always tough for a young driver to find the backing and experience to help you progress. Being part of Lotus F1 Junior Team will definitely help to give me those things and it’s great to have people really behind you, pushing you to do the best you can. I’m really looking forward to the season ahead.
This will be your first full year in the GP3 Series; what are you looking for from your debut season?
I competed in a couple of races last year alongside the FIA Formula 2 championship and managed to take P4 in Spa, so I have had a good introduction to the championship already. This year the cars have changed slightly and will have a bit more power so it’s not going to be an easy transition, but my aim is to prove my ability over the course of the season and hopefully move on to the GP2 Series or World Series by Renault next year. If you want to get into Formula 1 – which is the ultimate target for any young driver in single-seater categories – then these are the ideal stepping stones to the top level.
Oscar Tunjo – Colombia – Formula Renault 2.0
What does being a member of Lotus F1 Junior Team mean to you?
It’s a big motivation. Just being at Enstone, walking around the factory and learning from all the team members who have such huge knowledge of their respective areas is fantastic. On top of that, I’ve been working with people who have coached so many world class drivers over the years and their experience is something that has made a big difference to me already. It’s a privilege to be part of the team.
You’re competing in Formula Renault 2.0 for the third year in 2013; what’s the aim for the season ahead?
I had a solid start in 2011 but 2012 was a tough year for me, so now I’m even more determined to come back and push for the championship. I feel like I have all the elements in place to make a strong challenge, so my goal is to be consistently at the front of the pack in every session; taking podiums and hopefully as many wins as possible along the way. My motivation is higher than ever to perform as part of the Lotus F1 Junior Team programme.
Esteban Ocon – France – Formula Renault 2.0
How does it feel to be part of the Lotus F1 Junior Team?
I’m familiar with Enstone having been with the Gravity Sports Management programme for the last four years, but it’s great to be associated with a team at the top level of motorsport. I’m trying not to think too much about the link to Formula 1 as it’s important to focus on what you are doing now and not look too far into the future, but I think for any young driver that must be the ultimate goal.
You’ll be taking on the Formula Renault 2.0 series for the second season in 2013; with your debut done and dusted, what would you be happy with this year?
Winning the championship has to be the goal; even if I can’t win every race, I want to be one of the drivers at the front all the way through the season. Last year I learned that consistency is the key, so my aim is to be up there fighting from start to finish.
Dorian Boccolacci – France – KF2 Karting
You’ve been coming to Enstone since the beginning of 2012; how have you enjoyed it so far?
It’s great to be part of the team; being at the factory is a real experience and to be surrounded by people who have worked with the best drivers in the world means I have the best people to learn from. Seeing what another French driver, Romain Grosjean, has achieved with the team has also been a big inspiration to me and so to be part of the setup at Enstone is a big thing for me.
You’re competing in the KF2 World Karting Championships this year; what are your aims for the year ahead?
The goal is always to win, and if you can’t win every time then to pick up the maximum points possible through the year is the most important thing. I managed to break into the top five in the World Championships last year, so the target is to be right at the front this season.
Alexander Albon – Thailand – Formula Renault 2.0
What does the Lotus F1 Junior Team programme mean to you?
It’s great to be a part of this programme. Being at the factory in Enstone is an amazing experience and I’m looking forward to learning as much as I can from my time there. Hopefully this will give me an even better chance to progress over the course of the season and put me in good shape for the future.
You’ll be tackling Formula Renault 2.0 for the second year in succession in 2013; what’s the plan for the season ahead?
Last year was a very tough one for me, so I’m almost thinking of this as my first real season. The first step will be to improve my consistency and take regular points finishes. With that baseline I’ll then be looking to push towards the top five, the podium and eventually race wins, but the priority is to take things step-by-step and develop a good solid platform to progress. Last year didn’t give me much of an opportunity to see where I stand, so I’m really looking forward to being able to show what I can do.