Ferrari to appoint new head of its F1 junior driver programme

Massimo Rivola is set to take over the running of the Ferrari Driver Academy as part of the Scuderia's plans to restructure its Formula 1 young driver programme, Autosport understands

Ferrari to appoint new head of its F1 junior driver programme

There was speculation Ferrari was to pull the plug on the initiative earlier this year but team principal Maurizio Arrivabene strongly denied it at the time.

It has now emerged Ferrari plans to grow the programme, though not to the size of Red Bull's equivalent, and tweak its approach.

As part of the move, sporting director Rivola will replace Luca Baldisserri as the programme's chief, with the move expected to be confirmed later this month.

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

But while Red Bull's junior programme has propelled Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, and Daniil Kvyat into its senior team and many others into Toro Rosso seats, no driver from Ferrari's academy has made the step up to the Scuderia's F1 programme.

The current members are GP2 racer and Sauber reserve driver Raffaele Marciello, GP3 driver Antonio Fuoco and Chinese teenager Guan Yu Zhou, who is likely to race in the Formula 3 European championship next year.

Canadian Euro F3 racer Lance Stroll left the programme recently to take up a development driver role with Williams.

Although no FDA graduates have raced for Ferrari in F1, the late Jules Bianchi was part of the programme, as was Sergio Perez prior to his decision to join McLaren in 2013.

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.

Ferrari's current line-up of Kimi Raikkonen, 36, and Sebastian Vettel, 28, is one of the oldest on the grid.

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