An 18-driver field from across the world will fight for a place on the FIA Institute's inaugural Academy scheme in a shootout, which starts on Sunday. America's Josef Newgarden was on the shortlist, but has withdrawn due to racing commitments at home, which mean he is unable to travel to Europe for FIA Institute Academy training sessions this season. Alexander Rossi will therefore be the sole American in the group.
The drivers come from race and rally backgrounds and face a three-day shootout for one of 10 slots on the ground-breaking Academy, which will be run by Alex Wurz and Robert Reid. Wurz will put the 18 through a rigorous examination of their driving skills, including the ability to maintain the highest possible average speed around a circuit mixing high and low-speed corners, while in top gear in a race-spec BMW M3.
The drivers will also be expected to demonstrate their prowess in controlling a sliding car before going into Tuesday's finale, when they will run a pursuit style knock-out event to decide the top 10.
The whole event takes place at the Road Safety and Motorsport Training Centre in Melk, 60 miles east of Vienna. The driving side of the assessment is conducted by Wurz's firm Test and Training International.
Reid will be running the classroom and fitness-based side of the program through his Elite Sports Performance company. This will include psychological profiling, team-building, strength and conditioning tests and presentation and interview techniques.
The successful 10 drivers, who meet in Melk for an introduction meeting tomorrow afternoon, will be selected on Tuesday evening and will then receive a fully funded year of training in the Academy.
The 18 drivers are: Kevin Abbring (21, Netherlands); Hamad Al Fardan (23, Bahrain); Paul-Loup Chatin (19, France); Albert Costa (20, Spain); Alon Day (19, Israel); Philipp Eng (20, Austria); Robin Frijns (19, Netherlands); Adam Gould (23, UK); Timmy Hansen (18, Sweden); Egon Kaur (23, Estonia); Andreas Mikkelsen (21, Norway); Norman Nato (18, France); Alexander Rossi (19, USA); Jan Skala (19, Czech Republic); Richie Stanaway (19, New Zealand); Molly Taylor (22, Australia); Stoffel Vandoorne (18, Belgium), and Joni Wiman (17, Finland).