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Pirro: I love working with young drivers

McLaren have appointed former Formula 1 driver Emanuele Pirro as head of their new Driver Development program, the Italian revealing he loves working with young drivers.

McLaren’s ever expanding racing programs now covers – aside from their jewel crown, Formula 1 – Formula E, IndyCar and Extreme E, and the team now have launched a new Driver Development program with Pirro, a former F1 test driver for the team leading it.

Pirro, a 61-year-old Frenchman, drove in F1 for three seasons between 1989 and 1991, competing in 37 grands prix his best result being fifth place at the 1989 Australian Grand Prix with Benetton, while he failed to finish 20 of the races he took part in.

McLaren said in their statement: “McLaren Racing today announced the formation of the McLaren Driver Development programme, led by former McLaren test driver, Formula 1 driver and Le Mans winner, Emanuele Pirro.

“As part of the programme, McLaren will support young drivers in their development from karting to professional racing driver with the aim of facilitating the progression of emerging talent into F1. Alongside this support for emerging grassroots talent, the programme will also support established professional drivers in other series, providing them with opportunities to gain experience in F1.

“The programme also creates a potential talent pipeline for the McLaren Formula 1 Team, Arrow McLaren IndyCar Team and the NEOM McLaren Formula E Team, in either a race seat, or test and development driver capacity.

“The McLaren Driver Development programme is currently formed of Arrow McLaren IndyCar Driver, Pato O’Ward, McLaren Formula 1 Reserve Driver Alex Palou and McLaren Young Driver, Ugo Ugochukwu,” the statement concluded.

Zak Brown, McLaren Racing CEO, commented: “McLaren has a long history of developing emerging talent into top-level racing drivers and I’m proud that will continue long into the future. We have an experienced team here at McLaren, who will be ably led by Emanuele, that are capable of providing the support and resources required to develop raw young talent into highly competitive professional racing drivers.

“With McLaren’s wide racing portfolio across Formula 1, IndyCar and Formula E, we’re well placed to help develop young talent from the very start of their careers all the way through to full-time racing or test and development roles.

“We already have an exciting stable of talent, featuring Pato, Alex and Ugo, and I’m excited to continue supporting their development as we start to build the McLaren Driver Development programme,” Brown concluded.

Emanuele Pirro, Director, McLaren Driver Development programme, added: “I am thrilled by this assignment for several reasons. McLaren played a crucial role in my career by giving me the opportunity to earn an F1 drive and to elevate myself to a higher level by working alongside Senna, Prost and Berger.

“Together with my team, my role will assist in creating a state-of-the-art programme, selecting the best possible drivers and providing them with all the tools they need to make the best use of their talent. Furthermore, embed them in the McLaren mission, vision and values and hopefully, have one of them progress to the F1 team.

“An important asset for us are the IndyCar and Formula E teams, which will give extra opportunities for a professional career to our McLaren Driver Development members.

“I love working with young drivers and helping them grow and improve. Every time I did it in the past has been an enriching experience and I look forward to doing it again.

“McLaren has an amazing history in F1. It means a lot to me, and I am hugely proud to be part of this programme. I am grateful to Zak Brown and Andrea Stella for giving me this great opportunity.”

Over the course of his brief F1 career, Pirro drove for Benetton (10 races in 1989), BMS Scuderia Italia (27 races in 1990 and 1991).