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Teen prodigy Shwartzman becomes first Russian racer to join Ferrari Driver Academy

October 24, 18:39 UTC+3 MARANELLO

The Russian racer will undergo special driver training program and will be taking part in race practices and other events on the academy’s schedule

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© Vyacheslav Prokofiev/TASS

MARANELLO, October 24. /TASS/. Russian auto racer Robert Shwartzman, who is a driver of the SMP youth racing team and the winner of several Formula Renault 2.0 races, was enrolled on Tuesday into the Ferrari Driver Academy (FDA), a prestigious European racing school that opens doors to the Formula One world.

Shwartzman, who turned 18 last month, is considered to be among the most promising auto racers in Europe and became the first Russian ever to be accepted by the FDA.

Addressing a news conference in Italy’s Maranello on Tuesday, Boris Rotenberg, founder and chief of the SMP Racing program, said Shwartzman "is one of the most promising drivers."

"It is extremely important that the Italian academy expressed interest in one of the drivers from our program," Rotenberg said. "He is a very talented racer, they (FDA) saw potential in him and we reached an agreement on Shwartzman’s training at the Italian academy."

The Russian racer will undergo special driver training program and will be taking part in race practices and other events on the academy’s schedule. The goal of the program is to train a driver and prepare the racer for Formula One competitions.

"A serious and massive effort awaits our driver," Rotenberg said. "He will have to learn to be an athlete. His fellow students at the academy will not only be his friends and colleagues but future racing rivals as well. There are not many vacant places in Formula One, and he needs to do his utmost to get there."

Shwartzman became the first Russian to study at the academy joining current trainees Giuliano Alesi, Marcus Armstrong, Enzo Fittipaldi, Antonio Fuoco, Charles Leclerc and Guan Yu Zhou. Last week the FDA announced that 18-year-old British driver Callum Ilott also joined the academy.

"Education program at the Ferrari Driver Academy is a brilliant chance to reach new levels," Shwartzman said addressing the news conference. "I will do my utmost. I am confident that the result will be obvious in 2018. My only goal is to win."

According to the FDA official website, the academy’s aim "is to shape the drivers from an agonistic and human point of view, in addition to a professional one."

"The aim of the Ferrari Driver Academy is to give the necessary resources to the young drivers for their growth from a personal point of view, in order to help them to develop their driving techniques, their physical training, to become familiar with economic aspects regarding the automotive sport," the FDA says on its website.

The first Russian racer to enter the world of Formula One racing was Vitaly Petrov, who made his debut in 2010 and retired three years later. Another Russian driver, Daniil Kvyat, joined F1 racing in 2014 and is currently racing for Team Toro Rosso.

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