More on GP2
The driver confirmations for GP2 2011 are now starting to flood in. Since I published the last entry on it, another three teams have confirmed their line-ups.
DAMS were the first, as the update to the last post shows. Former Renault F1 driver Romain Grosjean will be joined by Norway’s Pal Varhaug. DAMS once again seem to be resorting to the quality driver + pay driver formula, as Varhaug’s record in GP3 wouldn’t necessarily guarantee him a promotion. Last year, they initially hired Jerome d’Ambrosio and Ho-Pin Tung, only to drop d’Ambrosio halfway through the year for Grosjean. The Belgian then returned with the disappointing Chinese driver suffered injuries in a crash at the Hungaroring, with the team deciding wisely not to rush him back, or in fact bring him back at all.
Next up were Spanish team Racing Engineering, who confirmed that Dani Clos and Christian Vietoris would continue as the team’s drivers in the main series. Both won races last year, with Clos winding up 4th overall just behind Jules Bianchi, and so you’d think that the continuity, something GP2 teams rarely choose to have, may give them an edge. Having won the drivers’ title with Giorgio Pantano back in 2008, who’d bet against another title challenge? Clos certainly has to – it will be his third year in the series, pretty much the last chance saloon as far as GP2 goes.
A side note to that is that in GP2 Asia, Clos will be joined by the young Frenchman Nathanael Berthon. He makes the step up to GP2 level after spending the 2010 season with Draco in Formula Renault 3.5, in which he finished on the podium four times, including a win at Magny-Cours. He is potentially one to watch for the future.
And finally Carlin have just confirmed that their first GP2 line-up will be made up of Mikhail Aleshin and Max Chilton. Neither are strangers to the team. Aleshin, who is still only 23, spent four seasons with the team in FRenault 3.5, culminating in his title victory last year. 19 year old Chilton drove for them in British F3 and his father is reputed to hold a stake in the team. Surprisingly this will be the Russian’s first full season foray into GP2, having only previously briefly substituted for Michael Ammermuller at ART for two rounds, while Chilton competed in 2010 for Ocean. Unlike his touring car star brother Tom, he has raced in single-seaters since 2007, famously making his British F3 debut a day after his 16th birthday.
I should also point out that Razia and Cecotto haven’t been confirmed at Team Air Asia yet, meaning there are 7 seats left to be confirmed (2x Air Asia, 2x Ocean, 1x Trident, 1x Super Nova and 1x Rapax). However, Cecotto was confirmed at Super Nova for GP2 Asia yesterday, with a view to racing in the main series for them.
UPDATE: And now Venezuela’s Rodolfo Gonzalez has been confirmed at Trident alongside Stefano Coletti.