"Passion. Dedication. Tradition." Even 42 years after the founding of Van Amersfoort Racing, Team Principal Frits Van Amersfoort remains true to his talent factory's motto every day of his life. "I enjoy the challenge of working with young drivers, helping them to develop and making them successful," said the Dutch ADAC Formula 4 team boss.
These young drivers will contest this year's ADAC Formula 4 for VAR: Felipe Drugovich (16, Brazil), Louis Gachot (17, Great Britain) and Kami Laliberté (17, Canada). "We're very pleased with our three drivers," says Van Amersfoort, who is of the opinion that the 'highly-competitive ADAC Formula 4 is the best training ground': "Felipe Drugovich came on amazingly well last year. Louis Gachot was very quick in testing, and Kami Laliberté rounded off last season with a win and two more podium finishes at the finale in Hockenheim."
Together, the three of them will plug the gap left by Joey Mawson (20, Australia). The 2016 ADAC Formula 4 champion is moving up into the next class within the team and will line up as a rookie in the FIA Formula 3 European championship this season. This is exactly what Van Amersfoort regards as one of its great strengths. "It's how we can shape young drivers right from the start, taking the next step up the ladder with them when they are ready. Joey Mawson is the best example of that," said the 62-year-old.
Even without their Australian driver, the team is aiming this year to build on its strong showing in the ADAC Formula 4 last season which ended with Mawson's title win and second place in the team standings. "Our motto is quite simple - to win," says Frits Van Amersfoort. The Dutch outfit provides the drivers with the ideal conditions to meet that goal. They are extremely well catered for, and team headquarters in Zeewolde are very modern with rooms for fitness training and three in-house simulators. What's more, many of the mechanics, engineers and managers have worked together for a long time and are very well practised as a team.
Van Amersfoort: Comprehensive support both on and off the race track
Frits Van Amersfoort set up the team in 1975 and has already seen many young talents make it to the top, including former VAR driver Max Verstappen, who recently made the move up into Formula 1. "But we mustn't forget all the guys who've raced with us and now earn their living as works drivers," said the Dutchman: "We know for sure, that all the drivers racing with us this year in Formula 4 and Formula 3 have what it takes to be successful in motor racing."
But it is not just about success on the race track. Van Amersfoort also aims to support the young drivers away from the asphalt. Van Amersfoort: "You have to look at each driver individually. Some 15-year-olds are more mature than others. This is why we have to promote each of them in a differentiated manner in order to support their development both as drivers and people."
Van Amersfoort added in conclusion that he has focused a great deal on this particular aspect of his work over the past few years: "How can we help this young, soon-to-be adult develop in and through motorsport? We want everyone to get a start in motor racing, but the truth is that many are called but few are chosen, which is why we see it as our duty to create an environment in which they can mature as sportspersons and people.