It wasn't just the latest driver to sign for Mercedes-AMG, Valtteri Bottas, who was over the moon when the most coveted cockpit in Formula 1 found a new home this January. In Oschersleben too, or more precisely, at the ADAC Formula 4 racing team Motopark based there, everyone was extremely proud of Bottas, who succeeds German Formula 1 world champion, Nico Rosberg. After all, the Finn was a very successful driver with Timo Rumpfkeil's team before going all the way into Formula 1, which is the big dream of many young motor racing talent.
Since its inception in 1998, Motopark has set great score on training new talent. Careful mentoring should smooth the young drivers' path into professional motor racing, so Rumpfkeil plans to tackle the new ADAC Formula 4 season with three or four talented junior drivers - one of whom will be Jonathan Aberdein (19, South Africa) - and they will all be mad keen to make progress in motor racing and maybe at some point, follow in Bottas' footsteps.
"Formula 1 is, of course, the long-term goal. So far, six of our drivers have made it into Formula 1, while many more are in the DTM or WEC," says Rumpfkeil with just eight weeks to go before the season kicks off on the weekend of 28th - 30th April in the Motorsport Arena Oschersleben. Apart from Bottas, current top drivers such as Max Verstappen and Kevin Magnussen also used to drive for Motopark.
Ex-racing driver Rumpfkeil knows that success in motor racing is linked to hard work and due diligence, which is why Motopark is in demand as a supporter and promoter. "For us, the training of young talent is at the forefront. We are committed to providing our rookies both with a good programme and with appropriate conditions, and that has worked really well for us for years now," says the 41-year-old. We see ourselves as the first point of call for young drivers wanting to enjoy suitable training on their way to becoming pro drivers." The long-term goal, according to Rumpfkeil, is "to be able to earn a living from motor racing at a later stage."
The ADAC Formula 4 has an integral part to play and fits the team's way of thinking, as it offers a route into the sport. In Formula 4, drivers should be able to develop, so that, ideally, they can then move up to join the team's own Formula 3 squad. "The ADAC Formula 4 is the perfect training ground for young drivers coming up from karting. What the ADAC has on offer is definitely an excellent package. They can develop further there and then maybe move up into Formula 3," says Rumpfkeil: "Our Formula 4 team functions very well. We've been extremely successful in the past, and drivers can move up directly into Formula 3 here within the squad. It's very important that the way forward is secured and that they can continue to grow here in the team."
Prime example Joel Eriksson - From ADAC Formula 4 to Formula 3
Young Swedish driver Joel Eriksson (18) admirably proves that Rumpfkeil's way of doing things works. The 2015 ADAC Formula 4 championship runner-up ended his first Formula 3 season with Motopark as best rookie and fifth overall in the standings.
"He will stay with us for another season and is certainly a future Formula 3 title contender. It is, of course, the ideal setup if we can continue to make progress together," says Rumpfkeil: "It suits us both when our juniors can make the switch seamlessly and go on working with the same people."
Home race in prospect end of April at season opener
Motopark's team headquarters are located directly next to the Oschersleben circuit and offer excellent possibilities for practice. The home race at the very start of the season is, of course, a special race weekend. However, Rumpfkeil is not prepared to say at this stage who will be taking his seat in a Motopark cockpit next to Aberdein at the end of April. The only thing he would say on that score was: "We're pleased to report that we are well placed as far as having decent drivers goes. We've done our homework over the winter!"