Knocking on the F1 door
Filipino-Swiss driver Marlon Stockinger, 21, is closer to becoming the first Filipino to make it to the world’s premier racing series Formula 1.
The Lotus F1 Team recently announced its roster of seven drivers for its newly launched Lotus F1 Junior Team, and Marlon, who went to Europe at the age of 17 to pursue a racing career, made it to the list. Marlon is considered the Philippines’ lone bet for the pinnacle of racing—the Formula 1 Championship—in the foreseeable future.
Eric Boullier, team principal of the Lotus F1 Team, said: “Lotus F1 Junior Team takes our previous i-Race Professional young driver academy and builds on it to be more closely aligned with the Formula 1 team and all the benefits brought by this association. We have announced seven highly talented drivers, many of whom will be competing against their fellow teammates from the program. We’re offering an in-depth and highly beneficial training regime which should encourage these drivers to develop and perform at their very best. Motorsport can be very daunting for young drivers, particularly everything that occurs away from the track, so we hope to give our drivers the very best preparation possible for their future careers.”
Lotus announced that these drivers will be supported in all areas of driving skills, physical fitness, health and nutrition, social and mental development, business ethics and principals, as well as PR training.
These seven drivers will compete within a variety of motorsport championships from the World Series by Renault Formula Renault 3.5 Series through the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 to KF category karting.
Aside from Marlon, Lotus has another driver, 22-year-old Marco Sorensen from Denmark who is in the same program this year to race in this year’s World Series by Renault to drive for the FR 3.5 Lotus World Series Team. Sorensen seems to have a slight edge in terms of experience and track record compared to Marlon.
Aside from Marlon and Sorensen, the other five drivers of the 2013 Lotus F1 Junior Team are the following: Alex Fontana (Switzerland) GP3 with Jenzer Motorsport, Oscar Tunjo (Colombia) with Eurocup FR 2.0 with Kaufmann Racing, Esteban Ocon (France) with Eurocup FR 2.0 with ART Junior Team, Alexander Albon (Thailand) Eurocup FR 2.0 team TBA and Dorian Boccolacci (France) Go Kart International KF category with Energy Corse.
And as Marlon competes in this year’s World Series by Renault, it is his chance to shine and perhaps have a crack in Formula 1 racing.
“It’s a great feeling to be associated with such a prestigious team. If you look back through the years as Benetton and Renault you can see that this team knows how to win championships, so to be surrounded by that heritage is a big honor for me. I really want to make the most of it and am looking forward to wearing the team colors with pride,” said Marlon.
Long road from Manila
Born and raised in Manila, Marlon is the son of Swiss businessman and racing enthusiast Tom Stockinger and Filipina Egin San Pedro. Right now, it is still a long road to Formula One
racing for Marlon. Since Lotus team boss Boullier has been eyeing Marlon for a while now, it implies that he has the skills to make it to the next level, perhaps even as a Formula One test driver in a couple of years. He already has the proverbial foot on the gas pedal in one of F1’s famous teams.
There is only one race in the series which will run as an undercard race on the same race weekend in the Formula 1 Race Championship circuit which takes place in Monaco. Marlon can have a shot at getting noticed there. On the same race last year, he bagged his first win in the 2012 GP3 Series at Monaco and set his first pole position and the fastest lap of the race.
“Of course, every driver wants to win, but I understand it’s a big step moving into a new category, so learning is the most important thing. Starting with testing, I need to take in as much as I can and from there it’s all about consistency and building a strong platform to progress through the ranks. I’m aiming to make a good start and develop as much as I can as the championship progresses,” Marlon said.
With his handsome Eurasian looks, Marlon can easily be tempted to the calls of the lucrative entertainment and celebrity brand endorsement industry, just like some of the past good-looking race car drivers in Philippine motorsports.
But with this stint with Lotus, those calls will most likely not be answered as he focuses on the race less traveled, and perhaps be the first-ever driver to race the Philippine flag in the world’s most glamorous and prestigious motor race.