Costa Toparis, of the brightest young motorsport talents in Goulburn, recently received international recognition when he was one of two Australian drivers selected to participate in the Ferrari Driver Academy Scouting World Finals.
Although the 14-year-old was forced to decline the invitation due to the difficulty around scheduling a return trip to Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic, where the finals will be held, he was humbled.
"I feel flattered to have made it this far. The Ferrari Driver Academy is such a prestigious opportunity and to be selected as one of the candidates for the Finals feels amazing," Toparis said.
"I think it's a major step forward as I continue my career in motorsport.
"I want to thank my parents and family for everything they have done to support my racing career as well as how hard they tried to get me overseas for the event during the pandemic."
Toparis was named alongside Victoria's Jesse Lacey to represent Australia at the FDA event, which featured three other drivers.
The Scouting World Finals bring together a handful of promising juniors from across the globe each year, who then undergo testing at the Ferrari facility in Fiorano.
This includes physical and mental assessments, which are followed by simulator sessions and, finally, two test sessions per driver in a Formula 4 car on the Fiorano track.
The best-performing driver, if they are deemed to be at a high enough level by Ferrari engineers, will then be invited to join the FDA training program in 2022.
Costa was initially approached by the FDA on the back of both his phenomenal results in 2021, which include wins in 50 individual races, and his work ethic.
"He's quite well-known for how hard he works off the track with his fitness and helping younger kids," Costa's father, Con Toparis, said.
"He has a good reputation there, and he has good results internationally in years gone by."
Though Costa was "devastated" to miss out on the opportunity to travel to Italy, his father said that he handled the bad news with impressive maturity.
Selection in the event represents a significant shift for the youngster, as he prepares to make the move from karting into Formula 4, which he will be able to do once he turns 16 in 2022.
"Between now and then, we'll need to seek a competitive team in Europe, and the Ferrari Driver Academy will assist with that," Con said.
The FDA Scouting World Finals concluded yesterday, with drivers currently awaiting the decision of the Ferrari engineers as to who is the best candidate to join the academy.
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