Ferrari have signed 14-year-old Australian James Wharton to their young driver academy with a drive in Formula Four on offer.
He will have to wait until he turns 15 however, the minimum age for the category.
The Daniel Ricciardo fan from Bundoora, Victoria, won the Ferrari Academy’s Scouting World Finals against five other youngsters from around the world in an evaluation camp at Maranello.
“He has considerable natural speed and he combines this with the ability to listen and put into practice the advice he is given,” said Academy head Marco Matassa.
“His level headed and positive attitude, his ability as a team player and his cheerful nature make him particularly suitable for motor sport.”
The academy has seen several young drivers progress to Formula One, the latest being Germany’s Mick Schumacher whose father Michael is a seven-times world champion and Ferrari great.
Ferrari Press Release:
The doors of the Maranello Academy have opened for the 14 year old Australian
James Anthony Wharton, who is just 14 years old, is the winner of the first Scouting World Finals run by the Ferrari Driver Academy (FDA). He came here all the way from Australia and was the outstanding driver at the evaluation Camp held at the Scuderia headquarters back in October.
Taking part were six youngsters from around the world, selected by the organisations working alongside Ferrari in monitoring talented young drivers: ACISport for Europe, Escuderia Telmex for Latin America, Tony Kart for the world of karting and Motorsport Australia for the Asia-Pacific region, the latter being the ones who picked Wharton.
Precocious. James was born on 8 July 2006 in Bundoora, Victoria, and has motorsport in the blood, given that his father used to kart too. James was two and a half years old when he first tried a kart. He still remembers the experience, saying “it was one of the best days of my life.”
He reckons he possesses steely determination and makes it a point of honour to keep his promises and be true to his word and be a team player. If he could have any superpower he would like to fly, while he reckons his driving style is methodical, built on study and preparation, not instinct. His favourite number is 13 and his favourite driver is fellow countryman Daniel Ricciardo.
Next step. Wharton, back home in Australia to spend some time with his family, was told he had won the Scouting World Finals by video call, with Marco Matassa, Head of the FDA in Maranello and Scuderia Ferrari Sporting Director Laurent Mekies in Bahrain. The FDA will now offer James a training programme with a view to his racing in Formula 4. However, he will have time to prepare as 15 is the minimum age at which one can compete in the category.
Marco Matassa, Head of Ferrari Driver Academy “James Wharton impressed us in many ways. He has considerable natural speed and he combines this with the ability to listen and put into practice the advice he is given. We saw that at Fiorano from the way he drove in both dry and wet conditions.
“His level headed and positive attitude, his ability as a team player and his cheerful nature make him particularly suitable for motor sport, which requires a driver to perform on track but also to be able to communicate with the team so as to help them with their work.
“Being able to express the feeling from the car into words is no easy matter and James proved adept at it. He is also well educated, respectful and humble; values which fit well with those of the FDA. James’ selection also shows that the FDA’s Scouting system, which it expanded this year, works well and I’d like to thank Motorsport Australia for identifying James’ talent for us.”
James Wharton, winner of the FDA Scouting World Finals “I am very happy to be selected as the best candidate in the Camp, because it’s a reward for all the effort me and my family have always put into my dream of becoming a professional racing driver. The FDA programme looks very interesting and I am sure it is the ideal path for me to progress.”