In a rather unusual fashion, Red Bull’s good Doctor Marko has made a bid to take into the Red Bull Junior program a racer aged 24; ex F1 driver Gerhard Berger’s nephew Lucas Auer.
At the ripe old age of just 24 years, Red Bull will be putting their latest protégé into the program and he’ll be competing in the Japanese Super Formula series, what was once known as Formula Nippon.
The move is unusual as often the Junior program doesn’t include drivers of that age group. Red Bull will be in effect ‘stealing’ a Mercedes driver however, as the youngster was a factory DTM Mercedes driver and had tested for Mercedes in a Force India at the mid season F1 test at the Hungaroring in August this year.
Super Formula is widely regarded as a intensely fast form of single seater racing, not too far away from F2 and even pre-2017 F1 in terms of power and downforce.
Ex Ferrari driver Gerhard Berger’s nephew Lucas Auer was part of the DTM series with the factory Mercedes Benz team, before their decision to drop the premier touring car series in favour of Formula E for 2019.
Red Bull have decided that Auer is worthy enough to try and return to single seaters in a bid to collect as many super license points as possible, starting with Japanese Super Formula.
“On the one hand, the situation of Auer after the DTM exit from Mercedes was not good” says Helmut Marko
“we want to keep Auer’s career going and our new partnership with Honda is having an effect.”
This means: Red Bull can occupy three Honda cars in the Super Formula with their protégés.
Notable inclusions into the 2019 season with Lucas Auer will be Macau winner Dan Ticktum from the UK, and Adrian Newey’s son Harrison Newey, although Marko stresses that the Red Bull Racing designer’s son is not supported by the Red Bull Junior programme.
“We support the young Newey, but he is not RB junior team member.” concedes Marko.
“With the Super Formula alone, Auer can not get the points for the creating a Formula 1 license, he needs more. ”
It’s widely anticipated that Auer will also compete in other Asian series simultaneously in a bid to increase the points required for his super license.