Ratel: Youngsters should chase GT3 deals over F1 dreams
Stephane Ratel, organiser of the Blancpain GT Series, believes that young drivers would be better served aspiring to works GT3 contracts, rather than chasing their Formula 1 dreams.
While young, ambitious and talented drivers in the past have tended to aim solely for a Grand Prix seat, a switch to GT racing wasn’t considered as a serious alternative.
But that’s changing with the arrival of more youngsters in GTs, and some of them have specifically targeted this discipline from the outset.
One of the recent examples is Dries Vanthoor, the 18-year-old younger brother of Laurens Vanthoor. Both driving for Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, Dries has seen Laurens clinching great successes with the team since 2012.
Teaming up with Robin Frijns, another driver who used to chase the Formula 1 dream, both made a strong appearance during the opening weekend at Misano. Despite rookie mistakes, Vanthoor proved his skills by racing in front of the 39-car field.
Dutchman Jules Szymkowiak takes a similar road to success. The 20-year-old is sharing the Mercedes AMG GT3 with five-time DTM champion Bernd Schneider at HTP Motorsport.
The youngster has shown a steep learning curve thanks to the expertise of his German teammate. Together with Schneider he won the qualifying race of the Blancpain GT Sprint Series Cup at Brands Hatch, a result that was followed by a second place during the main race.
Ratel is pleased to see this development and said that drivers have a chance to become a works GT3 driver and therefore generate an income.
“The chances of getting into Formula 1 are very slim, while the chance for a decent driver to get a factory deal in GT, to be paid, to have a job, is reasonable these days,” Ratel told Motorsport.com.
“The young guys are very good. They can get a contract with BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Nissan, Bentley and so on. So I think it becomes very attractive for many young drivers that want to become a professional.
“Maybe not becoming a Formula 1 star, but a professional racing driver.”
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