Rupert aiming for Formula One

AUSTRIAN Formula One driver Christian Klein believes that this season of racing could be crucial for Ipswich hopeful Rupert Svendsen-Cook if he is to reach the top of the motorsport ladder.

Stuart Watson

AUSTRIAN Formula One driver Christian Klein believes that this season of racing could be crucial for Ipswich hopeful Rupert Svendsen-Cook if he is to reach the top of the motorsport ladder.

Klein, who has raced for Jaguar, Red Bull and Honda during his first full three seasons of Formula One, is now the reserve driver for BMW Sauber.

But it was in the very same series that 17-year-old Svendsen-Cook is now racing in - Formula BMW - that the 25-year-old believes he learnt the most during his racing education.

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Between 1999 and 2001, when the series was known the BMW ADAC Formula Junior Cup, Klein celebrated nine race wins and also claimed the Rookie Cup.

Just three years later he was taking to the Formula One grid for the first time - 46 grand prix starts and 14 world championship points following in quick succession.

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And Klein isn't the only current Formula BMW product to be racing in Formula One, Nico Rosberg, Adrian Sutil, Timo Glock and

Sebastian Vettel all graduates of the series.

Formula BMW has undergone many logistical changes since Klein's time in the series, the single-seater championships now supporting seven of Formula One's European races, however, the original concept of providing a relatively low cost entry level championship in order to develop young drivers aged between 15 and 18 still remains.

At the latest rounds of the series, held around the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Klein - along with his team mate Nick Heidfeld - took time out to speak to the current crop Formula BMW Europe drivers about his breakthrough years.

He said: “I received a lot of support from BMW during my time in Formula BMW, it is a great series. When you come from karting it is important to learn as much as possible in your early years of motorsport.

“I was constantly trying to learn and improve and because of that I was in Formula One by the time I was 20.”

Svendsen-Cook has certainly made the most of his Formula BMW experience so far. This season he has already established himself as the top British driver on the series, which was again reiterated at his home track of Silverstone recently.

Round five on Saturday brought dry but windy conditions and, having started 11th on the grid, Svendsen-Cook managed to gain two places, despite an imbalance in his car set-up and the track being notoriously lacking in overtaking opportunities.

The following day saw torrential rain deliver horrendous racing conditions, however, Svendsen-Cook remained unphased and once again claimed ninth place thanks to a brilliant over-taking manoeuvre past fellow Brit Ollie Millroy on the penultimate corner of the timed race following a momentous battle throughout.

Those back-to-back ninth place finishes meant that, not only was he the top British driver in both races, but is also the leading British driver in the overall table at an impressive joint 10th from a vastly experienced field of 28.

“To be the top British driver is very important to me,” said Svendsen-Cook. “It was especially nice to be top of the Brits in both races at my home track.

“This weekend has been my best so far and that is always my aim, to make sure I keep progressing race by race. You have to look at the championship as a whole, but my main goal is to improve overall this season from last.

“This weekend was a good experience for me as I have proved that, not only am I am fast in the dry, but also that I can perform in the wet. All the greatest drivers are fast in the wet, the likes of (Michael) Schumacher and (Ayrton) Senna, so this was a good test for me this weekend.”

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