Internationalization of Formula BMW is continuing unabated. Following on from Germany and Asia, the racing series for young drivers will also be held in Great Britain from 2004.

Next year, the Formula BMW UK Championship will start there with two races each on ten weekends over a distance of approximately 30 miles. Nine racing weekends will fall within the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC), and one race is supposed to take place within the European Touring Car Championship (FIA ETCC Championship).

"Our concept for promoting talent is directed towards successful cart drivers who want to get into formula sport," was how BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen described the target group. "BMW is interested in teaching young talent about all the demands of professional motorsport." Quite apart from driving instruction, preparation includes sustained fitness training and a training programme with instruction, in such matters as nutrition, languages, media work and marketing.

Talented youngsters between 16 and 25 are entitled to line up on the starting grid. They will learn all about the nuts and bolts of their sport with the most innovative Formula racing car in its class. Five sponsor candidates will be identified at the Formula BMW Racing Centre in Valencia (ESP) during the course of competitive training. Apart from being put through the professional training programme, each of these candidates will be awarded a sponsor sum amounting to 35,000 pounds sterling.

The Formula BMW ADAC Championship was launched in Germany in 2002. BMW was already engaged in promoting new talent as early as 1991. This year, Formula BMW Asia races are being held in Asia for the first time. Formula BMW UK will now become the third pillar of BMW talent promotion.

Driver training also includes cooperation between BMW and Formula 1 partner WilliamsF1. "I'm certain that this new series will be a big success. And I shouldn't be surprised if one or two of the pilots were to pop up again in Formula 1, two or three years down the line," commented WilliamsF1 team principal Frank Williams.

Formula BMW sets new benchmarks especially in safety standards. The small single-seater is powered by a 140 bhp BMW motorcycle engine and can accelerate up to speeds of 230 km/h. It has a high-tech carbon-fibre chassis, meets the safety requirements of the significantly more powerful Formula 3 racing cars, and has even been expanded to incorporate a Formula 1 standard with in-house production of the BMW Formula Rescue Seat (Fors).

Formula BMW and its forerunners have already launched numerous pilots into orbit. In the case of BMW WilliamsF1 Team driver Ralf Schumacher, who made his debut in the talent hothouse in 1992, his career has taken him to the Formula 1 Championship.

The provisional racing calendar for the

Formula BMW UK Championship 2004:

10/11 April - Thruxton

1/2/3 May - Brands Hatch

15/16 May - Silverstone

30/31 May - Oulton Park

12/13 June - Mondello Park

26/27 June - Knockhill

24/25 July - Croft

21/22 August - Brands Hatch

04/05 September - Snetterton

TBC - Donington Park