Anthony Hamilton, father of Formula 1 star Lewis, is planning to run a fleet of 2009-spec Formula 1 cars in an effort to help young drivers gain mileage in current grand prix cars without being constrained by the testing restrictions.
Hamilton Sr. intends to lease year-old cars, along with equipment and personnel, from teams and run them independently in a program called the GP Prep Drivers Academy. He has already agreed to terms with McLaren for the supply of two cars, and is in advanced talks with other teams. Hamilton said that the idea was to give young drivers who would otherwise not get a chance to test an F1 car a chance to prove their potential.
"If you look at our sport. drivers are very lucky to make F1, because there's no career path structure for it," Hamilton told AUTOSPORT. "There are guys who don't get a look in. The idea with GP Prep is to provide more of an opportunity for young drivers to be spotted."
Costs are still being determined, although it is expected that a day's testing will require a similar budget to a weekend of racing in a high-level open-wheeler. Deals are also being finalized with circuits, although it is anticipated that most running will take place in the UK. The program is expected to be launched in March.