Few know how to raise a future Formula One driver like Anthony Hamilton. The father of 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton fostered his son's development from birth through his F1 debut and world title the following year, and is still one of the most visible managers or family members in the sport. But Anthony isn't only interested in getting his own son into the sport, he apparently wants to help others as well.
Hamilton Sr. is in the process of arranging for several teams to lease their 2009 cars to him through his new GP Prep Drivers Academy. So far McLaren, with which the Hamiltons obviously share the closest ties, has already agreed to provide two cars, and negotiations are reportedly under way with other teams as well.
The driving force, so to speak, behind GP Prep is a result of the mid-season test ban still in place in Formula One. Because testing has been so severely curtailed, many aspiring drivers don't have a chance to get behind the wheel before their grand prix debut. Case in point Jaime Alguersuari, who incidentally backs the Hamilton venture, and who completed half a season with Scuderia Toro Rosso last year but couldn't participate in a test session until just a couple of weeks ago. Or recuperating drivers like Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa, who had to "borrow" old 2007-spec cars from Ferrari's client services department in order to get back up to speed.
GP Prep will manage to circumvent the rules because it's not part of any particular team, so who's to say what they can and can't do. The costs, however unbelievably, for a single day of testing will reportedly approach those of racing a full grand prix weekend. Still, there are more than a handful of drivers who'll want to take the opportunity to get up to speed – literally and figuratively – and sponsoring teams anxious for them to get there.
[Source: Autosport | Image: Mark Thompson/Getty Images]