|BMW's commitment to young driving talent goes back as far as the 1970s, when the company supported the BMW Junior Team and the spectacular Procar series over many years. From 1991 to 2001, BMW was involved in the Formula ADAC championship as the engine supplier, helping gifted young drivers progress from go-karts to Formula racing. In many cases, these drivers subsequently went on to compete in international motor sports.|
Indeed, over the past twelve years, well over forty beneficiaries of BMW ADAC Scholarships have made their way into Formula 3. The most famous graduate has to be Ralf Schumacher, who competed in his first Formula ADAC race on the Norisring in 1992 and is now one of the leading drivers in Formula 1.
In only its fourth year worldwide, Formula BMW has become one of the top choices of karters around the world to make the progression to race cars. The series provides a strong platform of races along with a diverse Education and Coaching Program. With the help of four championship series held in Germany, the UK, the United States and Asia, Formula BMW takes talented young drivers who have outgrown the kart track and introduces them to professional motor racing.
Even the best talent needs support. That is why BMW doesn't just offer gifted young go-kart drivers a seat in a Formula racing car - it promotes the most promising candidates as Formula BMW Juniors.
Apart from financial support, the young drivers are offered an Education and Coaching Program that gives them the best possible preparation for their career in motorsports. This program is of course also available to all other drivers in the championships.
The primary objective is to back motor racing at the grass-roots level by offering drivers the comprehensive training they need. Internationally applied sporting and technical regulations ensure that all participants compete against each other with identical equipment and in a fair, competitive environment. That means nobody gains an advantage through financial or technical means, and that is the basis of an absolutely level playing field in the context of relatively limited budgets.
As a vital part of experienced racing teams, the young talents get accustomed to the atmosphere in a professional single-seater series. The effectiveness of this concept has produced drivers such as Nico Rosberg, Ralf Schumacher, Christian Klien, Timo Glock and many more, who have made it from the Formula BMW into a Formula One cockpit.
The Fastest Classroom on Earth
Drivers wishing to compete in the Formula BMW Championship must first obtain their Junior or International C license. . Drivers as young as 15 can apply for a 'Junior' license as long as they turn 16 within their first year of racing in the category. Drivers older than 18 require a C-license to compete in a Formula BMW Series. Instruction for either two-day license course takes place at the Formula BMW Racing Center in Valencia, Spain, where drivers are taught both the theory and the practicalities of such subjects as set-ups, gear changes, braking, racing line, flags, regulations, standing starts, and how to behave while the safety car is on track.
All this is carried out under the professional supervision of Jörg Müller (current BMW works driver) and Mike Strotmann (Coordinator Formula BMW Racing Center). These two experts pass on their invaluable expertise to a new generation, and are responsible for short-listing talented young drivers and making the final assessment that determines who will be accepted into the BMW Motorsport Scholarship Program in the upcoming season.
Formula BMW is one of the world's leading entry-level classes in Formula racing.
Formula BMW is truly a global program by having championships not only in North America, but also in Germany, the UK and Asia. With its four championships, Formula BMW is now firmly rooted in racing calendars throughout the world and has become one of the leading entry-level introductions to single-seat car racing, a bridge between karting championships and more powerful formula cars.
The first Formula BMW championship was launched in Germany in 2002 together with long-term partner ADAC. The Formula BMW spread to Asia in 2003 and then to the USA and UK in 2004. Drivers come from many more countries than the four championships might suggest. Over thirty nations were represented in last year's German, Asian, British and North American championships.
The circuits visited are truly impressive: Spa-Francorchamps, Zandvoort and Hockenheim, Sepang and the fantastic Suzuka circuit. Brands Hatch and Silverstone have UK championship rounds, and the US calendar visits North America's best circuits like Mid-Ohio and Road Atlanta.
But globally, there are five weekends throughout the year that make the individual schedules really stand out - the Asian Sakhir (Bahrain) and Shanghai (China) rounds, the German Nurburgring event and the Montreal (Canada) and Indianapolis races in the US championship. There, Formula BMW will support rounds of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, putting the entire field of drivers under the watchful gaze of F1 team owners, who are, of course, their ideal employer of the future…
In December 2005 the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) hosted the first Formula BMW World Final where 35 young race drivers from the four regional Formula BMW series competed against each other for the grand prize: a test with the BMW Sauber F1 Team.