Ferrari denies its Formula 1 driver academy will be closed for 2016

The Ferrari Formula 1 team has no intention of ending its young driver programme despite rumours suggesting otherwise, according to team principal Maurizio Arrivabene

Ferrari denies its Formula 1 driver academy will be closed for 2016

The Italian company set up the Ferrari Driver Academy in 2009 to develop future racers for its F1 team.

While Red Bull's similar initiative has propelled Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat into its main F1 team - and many others into Toro Rosso seats - no driver from Ferrari's academy has made the step up to the Scuderia's own F1 programme.

Recent rumours suggested Ferrari was poised to pull the plug on the academy, but team boss Maurizio Arrivabene described this suggestion as "bullshit".

Asked by AUTOSPORT if the academy would be continuing without doubt into next year, he said: "Yes. For sure [next year] and for as long as we can."

The current members are GP2 racer and Sauber's reserve driver Raffaele Marciello, GP3 driver Antonio Fuoco, European Formula 3 racer Lance Stroll and Chinese teenager Guan Yu Zhou, who is an Italian Formula 4 frontrunner.

Regarding the academy's future make-up, Arrivabene said: "At the end of the season, we will decide which drivers stay in, which are coming in and which are leaving."

Although no FDA graduates have raced for Ferrari itself, the late Jules Bianchi was part of the programme, as was Sergio Perez prior to his decision to join McLaren in 2013.

Ferrari has tended to opt for experienced driver for its own F1 team, with this year's line-up of Kimi Raikkonen, 36, and Sebastian Vettel, 28, one of the oldest on the grid.

The only driver under the age of 27 to have driven for the Scuderia in the last 20 years was Felipe Massa, who was 24 when he got his Ferrari seat in 2006.

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