Red Bull has announced the addition of three new drivers to its junior programme ahead of the 2016 racing season.
In 2015, the junior programme comprised of GP2 drivers Pierre Gasly and Dean Stoneman, and Formula 3 racer Callum Ilott, and although the final line-up for 2016 is still to be confirmed, another three drivers have now been drafted in.
Luis Leeds, 15, will race in the British MSA Formula series with Arden in 2016 following a season in Formula 4 in his native Australia, and is excited about the prospect of working with Red Bull.
“To think that I am now part of the Red Bull Junior Team is just incredible and I can’t wait for the MSA Formula season to start in Britain,” Leeds said.
“I know that the level of competition will be much higher but at least the cars will be the same so I can take what I have learnt here and make use of it.”
Niko Kari, 16, established himself as one of the brightest talents on the European junior racing scene after dominating the SMP F4 series in 2015 by taking seven wins and 19 podiums in 21 races.
“It was a great year and the series had some really good drivers so it wasn’t easy,” said the Finn, who will race in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship next year.
“I believe that if you do your work well you can achieve your aims and shouldn’t be worried about it. That’s the way I am looking at next season, of course I will have a lot to learn in F3 but I will work hard to make the best of this big opportunity.
“It’s a great feeling to be invited to be part of the Red Bull Junior Team. I think it will be a fantastic year, I can’t wait to see Pau, that will be my first street circuit and to go to Spa, that is my favourite, I have already tested there a few times in a Formula Renault and F3 car.”
Kari will be joined at the Motopark team by Brazil’s Sergio Sette Camara, 17, who has also joined the Red Bull junior programme after taking two podiums in his debut season in FIA F3.
“My first season in single seater didn’t start that well for me but the podium in Spa came at the right time and from there things improved a lot and specially the second part of the season with the podium in Red Bull Ring and the 3rd in the Zandvoort Masters gave me a lot of confidence,” Camara said.
“I am very proud to join Red Bull family and it is a great opportunity to be part of it, I am very grateful for it. I am very confident for this coming season and really looking forward to start competing again. I am sure that, together with the team and working on the same direction as we are, we will get our objectives.”
The Red Bull Junior Team has operated since 2001 with the goal of supporting young talent in motorsport and nurturing drivers for its Formula 1 teams.
Sebastian Vettel, Daniil Kvyat, Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr. all worked their way into F1 through the Red Bull junior programme, while others such as Jaime Alguersuari, Jean-Eric Vergne and Scott Speed also enjoyed backing from the energy drinks giant.