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Imagine getting a contract with a major F1 team before you're even out of high school. That's what Lewis Hamilton got with McLaren when he was young(er), and what karting protégé Will Stevens has achieved with the Honda Racing F1 Team, reflecting a growing trend in motorsport recruitment. While team leaders have always kept an eye on feeder series like Formula 3 and, more recently, GP2, to scout up-and-coming talent, the rising level of competition has driven the teams to start earlier and earlier with their recruitment programs.

At 16 years old, Stevens has the FIA-CIK KF2 European and Asia-Pacific, International Open Masters KF2, WSK Junior ICA and MSA British Junior titles to his name, along with five national championships. He met over the weekend with Honda's Ross Brawn and Nick Fry to sign a long-term driver support agreement that will help him develop and advance through the ranks until he's ready to race in Formula One, giving David Coulthard a heads-up on the next little pischer to complain about. Details are in the press release after the jump.

[Source: Honda F1]


Honda Racing F1 Team signs Will Stevens
Karting star to benefit from Honda support through the junior ranks.

The Honda Racing F1 Team is delighted to announce that it has signed 16 year old British karting star Will Stevens under a long-term driver support agreement.

Will is firmly established as one of the leading young kart racers in the world. For the 2008 season he is racing with the prestigious TonyKart Racing Team in the KF1 class competing in all the major European races, alongside participation in the WSK International Series and the World Cup in Japan.

In 2007, Will won the FIA-CIK KF2 European and Asia-Pacific Championships, along with the International Open Masters KF2 title. He was the 2006 WSK Junior ICA Champion and the 2005 MSA British Junior Champion, in addition to winning five previous national titles.

As Will seeks to progress through the junior motorsport ranks, Honda will assist him in developing to the level of performance that is required to potentially become part of Honda's Formula One programme in the future.
Will visited the Honda Racing F1 Team's headquarters in Brackley today to meet Team Principal Ross Brawn and Chief Executive Officer Nick Fry, and tour the impressive facilities of the team's UK operational base.

Ron Meadows, Sporting Director for the Honda Racing F1 Team with responsibility for Honda's Young Driver Programme, commented, "We are delighted to welcome Will to the Honda Racing F1 Team. Will has had a very promising career in karting to date and we very much look forward to assisting his advancement through the ranks of the junior formulae towards achieving his ultimate ambition to race in Formula One. Honda considers the development of emerging motorsport talent to be a key part of our strategy and our commitment to Formula One. We look forward to seeing how Will progresses with our support over the course of the next few years."

Commenting on today's announcement, Will Stevens said, "I am extremely proud to be joining the Honda Racing F1 Team and this provides me with a great opportunity to progress my career towards my goal of reaching Formula One. I would like to thank everyone who has helped me so far in my career and especially Honda for their commitment and support of my future. I intend to do my very best to ensure that their belief in me is rewarded."

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      Funny, he doesn't look a day over 10!
      • 7 Years Ago
      He looks like he gets beat up a lot at school.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Formula1 drivers have strong necks due to all of the g forces they experience. You can already see that in this kid.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Wow...you are right look at that kids neck...
        • 7 Years Ago
        The g forces also cause disruption with developing bones

        He has some attributes of a midget
      • 7 Years Ago
      he looks like mr bean
      • 7 Years Ago
      Another case of a family pushing too hard. This father's priorities are all screwed up if he is working three jobs to support his kids hobby.

      I bet the rest of the family is a total mess.

        • 7 Years Ago
        Don't judge until you know more of the family. The dad may be working three jobs because the kid loves racing. I'm sure Honda will find out...
      • 7 Years Ago
      Honda better develop a booster seat for him because I don't think he's tall enough to ride a rollercoaster or drive at the local go-kart track!

      I would be curious to see the average size of an F1 driver, I know they're small but I have know idea how small. I remember Jeff Gordon had to have the seat padding reduced when he tested the Williams at Indy a few years ago and he is very short.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Makes me wish I'd pursued karting instead of football and basketball when I was a kid. I think I'm a better driver than athlete anyways... hell, who am I kidding. There's no way my parents would've sprung for a kart plus all the other associated racing costs when sneakers and jerseys were that much cheaper. Damn them...
        • 7 Years Ago
        For all of the karting series this guy has been in or is in right now, $300,000 over the course of his career isn't even close to what he really had to pay to get to where he is now. I think it would be much closer to a cool million when you include everything like travel expenses, from air fair to Asia, hotel, etc. This is the difference between racing as a sport and everything else. If your family isn’t well off, wealthy or down right rich, your talent will get you no where! It’s too bad that the talent in racing is only selected from a pool of rich kids. When I say rich, this means if your family is somewhere between a $250,000 household income to millions, you fall in the category of not having to worry about creating opportunities to showcase your talent.
        • 7 Years Ago
        @ BENDI999 -1
        Wrong. -From Lewis' autobiography and is also quoted on Wikipedia "When supporting his son became problematic Anthony Hamilton took redundancy as an IT Manager and became a contractor - sometimes doing up to three jobs at a time to support his son's career."
        • 7 Years Ago
        It's estimated that a karting career from start to pro costs $300k...makes my youth hockey equipment seem like a bargain...
      • 7 Years Ago
      Unless Honda turns their program around, I actually feel kind of bad for him.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Yes, getting a major corporation to pay you long-term for driving a race car must really suck. I too feel bad for him.
          • 7 Years Ago
          I'm sure the money's wonderful but you'd have to imagine that maybe, just maybe, he'd like to win an F1 race or compete for the championship.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Theres a couple of years before this kid is going to hit the track. And in these coming years, look at Honda to become a power house, with Ross Brawn at the wheel; first: a new car, its still relatively new for Honda so it might take a couple of seasons for them to perfect. Second; hires Wurz as test driver, and Third: get this kid (which is probably talented and may very likely turn out to be the next Hamilton.)

        Not to mention that Honda is a larger company then both Fiat, and Mercedes-McLaren, which means deeper pockets. How do you think Toyota jumped from basically roadkill to a decent competitor; cold hard cash.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Nice DC rip!
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