Could he be Bristol's first F1 driver? Dino Zamparelli gets backing from Steve Lansdown
LAST year he was shaking a collecting tin at the Cribbs Causeway motorshow.
But now 20-year-old Bristol driving sensation Dino Zamparelli has received the big break he needs in his bid to become the city's first Formula One driver – backing from Steve Lansdown.
Mr Lansdown's Bristol Sport Ltd, the umbrella group that owns Bristol City and Bristol Rugby, is expanding its sporting portfolio through a partnership with Dino, which will allow him to compete in GP3 – two rungs below Formula One on the motorsport ladder – this year.
The firm won't say how much its backing is worth, but motorsport insiders have suggested that financing a season on the GP3 circuit costs around £200,000 to £300,000 "as a conservative estimate" per driver. The drivers have to bring their own funding to the table to be able to compete, so although Dino has been snapped up by the Marussia Manor team – who also compete in Formula One – he must guarantee his own sponsorship.
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Bristol Sport (BSL) are helping to put him on pole position and also hope to attract sponsors from the city to further Dino's pursuit of his dream.
Dino took ThisisBristol for a drive round the city and explained how he got the racing bug and how Formula One is now firmly in his sights.
The former student at Queen Elizabeth's Hospital School in Clifton is targeting the GP3 title this season – and history shows the format is a reliable route to the glamour and riches of Formula One.
Both Esteban Gutierrez, the 2010 GP3 champion, and Valtteri Bottas, the 2011 winner, will compete in Formula One this season – and Dino hopes to follow suit in the coming years.
Dino, of Clifton, has a sporting pedigree, as his father Mike is a former powerboat racer. Last year he proved his mettle in Formula 2 and in 2011 he clinched the Protyre Formula Renault BARC championship title.
"This is a hugely exciting time for me and a massive opportunity to accelerate my career progression," said Dino. "It's always been my ambition to make it to Formula One but I've always been fighting the tide due to lack of funding.
"Now, with BSL's input, I can focus on my driving and my personal development. I'm a proud Bristolian, so to be working alongside a forward-thinking brand with strong roots in the city is a dream come true.
"This has given me a huge boost, but I'm fully aware that the hard work starts now. I want to represent BSL and the city of Bristol on the international stage – and to ultimately make the people of Bristol proud."
Watch Dino's reaction times in this video:
The Anglo-Italian driver, who has won two championships in the past five years, is one of the brightest driving talents in the country.
Martin Griffiths, the chairman of BSL, praised Dino's attitude, talent and potential.
"We immediately recognised Dino's incredible potential," he said. "He's a fiercely competitive character, who represents the qualities that BSL stand for – ambition, drive and a clear vision to succeed. Dino has overcome a number of obstacles in his short career already. This new relationship is a testament to our commitment to promoting and supporting sporting excellence in Bristol."