Although this could change very soon with 20-year-old Queenslander Chris Wootton announced as one of just three drivers to be granted a $100,000-plus scholarship to compete in the Formula BMW Pacific Series – catapulting him into the spotlight of the leading Formula 1 teams.
He will compete under the watchful gaze of the BMW Sauber F1 Team, currently headlined by Nick Heidfeld of Germany and Robert Kubica of Poland.
“I’m stoked to be chosen as one of the three second year Formula BMW Junior drivers worldwide, it’s humbling and a real honour. Formula BMW Pacific is a brilliant Series and provides arguably the best entry level to ‘wings and slicks’ racing anywhere in the world." said Chris
Like his mentor Mark Webber, Chris is one of the fittest competitors to line up in Formula BMW competition - finishing fourth in the Mark Webber Pure Tasmania Challenge in 2008 – ahead of many experienced adventure racers.
During his stint with BMW, Chris will be driving a Formula BMW FB02 which accelerates to 100km/h in under four seconds and hits a top speed of 230km/h.
The goal is to make it into European open-wheel competition in 2010, before reaching the pinnacle of world motorsport – Formula 1.
“From round one, we’re aiming to be on the pace and in a winning position. Regular race wins will be tough – there are some great competitors out there, but that’s what we have to do to meet our objectives and show BMW they made the correct decision by picking me to be part of the Junior Program.”
Five of the drivers which currently make up the Formula 1 grid are Formula BMW alumni, including Webber’s Red Bull F1 team-mate – Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg (Williams), Adrian Sutil (Force India), Timo Glock (Panasonic Toyota Racing) and Sebastien Buemi (Scuderia Toro Rosso).
The Formula BMW Championship is conducted in three territories – the United States (Formula BMW Americas), with Formula 1 Grand Prix in Europe (Formula BMW Europe) and the Formula BMW Pacific Series in pan-Asia.