The Renault Driver Development class of 2006 For 2006, the RDD programme will include four young talents undergoing rigorous training in top level motorsport. For the past four years, the Renault Driver Development programme has successfully...
The Renault Driver Development class of 2006
For 2006, the RDD programme will include four young talents undergoing rigorous training in top level motorsport.
For the past four years, the Renault Driver Development programme has successfully discovered talented young drivers and helped propel them to the upper echelons of motorsport. Spotted by Renault in 2002, Finn Heikki Kovalainen spent four years in the programme before becoming the world champion Renault F1 Team's Test Driver in 2006.
This year, four young hopes will represent Renault in the GP2 series, World Series by Renault and F3 Euroseries championships.
Jose Maria Lopez -- Argentine -- 22 years old
Now the programme's oldest member, Jose Maria begins his fourth year in the RDD. After a testing first season in the GP2 series -- a feeder for Formula 1 -- in 2005, when he finished ninth in the championship with a victory and two second places, he will once again be racing for the SuperNova team.
"The RDD programme has given me another chance to show my worth," explained Jose. "I know it is a big opportunity, and proof that they have confidence In me. I learned a lot last year in GP2, and I want to be fighting for the title this year."
Lucas DiGrassi -- Brazilian -- 21 years old
In 2005, Luca finished the season third in the F3 Euroseries championship, and also won the prestigious Macao Grand Prix in November. Named best under-21 South American driver by a panel of expert journalists, he will be competing in the GP2 series for Durango.
"Renault has given me the opportunity to race in highly competitive championships for the past two years, as well as working hard on my training," revealed Lucas. "Thanks to the RDD programme, I have learned what being a top-line racing driver is all about. For my first season in GP2, my aim is to demonstrate I am one of the best drivers in the field."
Romain Grosjean -- French -- 19 years old
A new arrival for 2006, the young Frenchman dominated the Formula Renault 2.0 championship in 2005 with ten pole positions, and the same number of wins, in 16 races. Starting the Macao Grand Prix -- his first F3 race -- Romain finished 9th after gaining 11 positions. This year, he will compete in the F3 Euroseries championship for Signature.
"I am very pleased to join the RDD programme, which will teach me about being a racing driver. It is a huge privilege to develop as a Renault driver, and something I am very proud of. I know I am very lucky to be in this programme," commented Romain. "At Macao, I got my first taste of F3 and it went well. I want to be fighting at the front quickly this season."
Ben Hanley -- British -- 21 years old
Ben finished second in the Italian Formula Renault 2.0 championship in 2005, with nine podiums and six wins after dominating the second half of the season. It was the young Briton's first season racing cars. He will compete for CRAM in the World Series by Renault championship.
"This is a good opportunity for me, to join the RDD programme. I know it will be a valuable help in achieving my goal of becoming a professional driver," said Ben. "I will give 100% to show I have what it takes to be a Renault driver. My first tests in the World Series car this winter, convinced me that I can adapt to the championship very quickly."
About the Renault Driver Development programme
Created in 2002 by the Renault F1 Team, the RDD programme aims to sport the most promising young drivers of tomorrow. A rigorous, demanding programme, the RDD allows the drivers to develop for a year within the Renault F1 Team environment, and in the most appropriate championship, while completing rigorous sporting and physical training. The drivers are ambassadors for Renault, and evaluated both on their on-track performances, but also away from the circuit. The RDD programme is recognised as a selective, prestigious and effective programme.
All the latest news and results on the RDD 'Class of 2006' are available onwww.renaultf1.com, in the 'Young Drivers' section.