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The Next Generation

2018 marks a high-point for the Red Bull Junior Team with six graduates of the programme expected to line-up on the grid in Albert Park for the first F1 race of the season.

Elsewhere in the wide world of motorsport, other alumni of the programme have titles to defend and challenges to mount. It's very difficult, in fact, to point to a single elite-level racing series anywhere in the world that doesn't have a former Red Bull Junior Team member expected to bring home the silverware this season.

The programme doesn't rest on its laurels, however, and expectations are high for this year's Team members. Competing across a range of European Championships from karting up to Formula 3, the intake will be getting plenty of seat time but also access to the wider sporting education, from advice on nutrition and fitness regimes, to media training and marketing activities.

So here they are, the names to watch in 2018. History suggests there's a champion or two lurking in this list.

Name: Dan Ticktum
Age: 18
D.O.B: 8/6/99
Nationality: British
2018 focus: FIA F3 European Championship

Dan Ticktum ended last season on the highest of highs, winning the Macau Grand Prix. He also competed in the final three events of the GP3 Championship, adapting quickly to finish on the podium in the final race of the year at Yas Marina. This year he'll be concentrating on the FIA F3 European Championship with Team Motopark for whom he was driving when he won on the Guia Circuit.

Name: Neil Verhagen
Age: 17
D.O.B: 18/2/01
Nationality: American
2018 focus: Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup

Neil Verhagen will be spending a second season in the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup after a promising debut in 2017. Verhagen, a winner last year at Assen in the sister FR2.0 NEC competition, will this year race in Eurocup with the Tech 1 team, who have previously had both Carlos Sainz and Pierre Gasly in their FR2.0 ranks.

Name: Jack Doohan
Age: 15
D.O.B: 20/1/03
Nationality: Australian
2018 focus: British F4

We've had a couple of decent Aussie drivers who've cut their single seater teeth in British junior formulae and have high hopes for Jack Doohan who's making that journey this year. Jack finished third in the CIK-FIA European Junior Championship last year and now makes the step up from karting into British F4 with the Arden team. And yes, he is.

Name: Dennis Hauger
Age: 14
D.O.B: 17/03/03
Nationality: Norwegian
2018 focus: British F4

Jack Doohan's team-mate at Arden in British F4 will be our first Norwegian driver, Dennis Hauger. Dennis is also making the transition from karting to single seaters, having last year become the youngest champion of Germany's DKM OK Senior Class.

Name: Jonny Edgar
Age: 14
D.O.B: 13/02/04
Nationality: British
2018 focus: OK Class Karting

British driver Jonny Edgar will be contesting the OK-Senior karting category for Forza Racing in 2018. Last year Jonny won the OK-Junior European Championship. It's the latest in a very long line of karting trophies for the Edgar family cabinet – he's the fourth generation, and the 13 member of the extended family to take to the track.

Name: Harry Thompson
Age: 13
D.O.B: 05/08/04
Nationality: British
2018 focus: X30 / OK Class Karting

Also in the karting ranks, Harry Thompson, last year's IAME International World Final winner in the X30 Junior class will continue in the category, racing for Fusion Motorsport, while also contesting the OK Junior Class with Ricky Flynn Motorsport.

...and finally
While not a member of the Junior Team, Japan's Nirei Fukuzumi has also recently become a Red Bull athlete. The 21 year-old driver is a former Japanese Formula 4 champion. Last year Nirei won two feature races in GP3 and had four other podiums on his way to third in the championship. This year he's doubling up, racing for Team Mugen in Super Formula, while closer to home he'll be contesting F2 with Arden.