Wednesday, May 18, 2022

FIA offers to prepare promising young Batswana for Formula 1

The President of the world’s motor sport mother body, the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), Jean Todt, believes the development of motor sport in Botswana will avail to young Batswana drivers a chance to compete in the Formula1 in future. Speaking during a press conference on Friday, the FIA president said young Batswana who show promise will be taken to a FIA academy in South Africa where they will be trained to be Formula1 drivers.

“As the FIA, we are working with all our affiliates in the continent for the development of motor sport in Africa. We have interest in Botswana and that is the reason why FIA has already organized two Africa Conferences in the country. As we speak, we have already asked the Botswana Motor Sport (BMS) to submit names of young drivers to be tried and be seconded to the Young Drivers Academy in South Africa,” Todt explained. Apart from taking young Batswana drivers to academies for training, the FIA President said they are also trying to develop karting in countries like Botswana as a way of developing drivers as well as promoting the growth of motor sports in the country. “Another mission for FIA is to promote road safety in the world. As FIA, we know that road accidents are a major problem facing the world and we have many initiatives and programmes to promote safety on the roads. We want to develop a strong synergy with clubs and federations to assess road safety,” he explained.

On the economic front, Todt said the development of Motor Sports in the country can have a positive spin off in the economy of Botswana. He said during his stay in the country, he has had the opportunity to meet with Botswana Tourism and they have expressed interest in working with Botswana Motor Sports.

“Tourism is the pride of this country. Botswana has vast spaces and wildlife and I believe Motor Sport can give the country an opportunity to showcase its tourism to the world,” he said.

While Africa does not have the biggest races like Formula1, Todt said the continent and Botswana in particular, still have opportunities more especially in the Rally Races due to its vast open spaces.
Meanwhile, Botswana Motor Sports president, Kevin Branch, said the race is on to find a young driver who can be sent to the Young Drivers Academy in South Africa to be trained as a driver.

Speaking in an interview, Branch said BMS will work hand in hand with its clubs to identify the driver, who should be between 17 and 23 years of age.

“The young driver should have the passion and the skill to make it as there will be competition for places at the academy. We are canvassing for the right candidate as we feel this will be a great opportunity for young Batswana to have a shot at making it into the Formula1 training academy with a view of making it to the formula1 circuit,” Branch explained.

He, however, said with the country still lags behind in grassroots development and that it is a very difficult to find the right candidate.

“This is an open opportunity for all young Batswana in the specified age range, irrespective of their gender. Should we find a suitable candidate, even if it’s a girl, that is who we will select,” he explained.

On other issues, Branch said the BMS is looking at developing karting in the country as a way of Motor Sport development. He said the BMS will be looking at finding or even developing karting facilities to start the sport, which he said is the most effective way of developing young drivers.

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