F1, GP2 Birthdays: 11/05/2011

Ferrari’s team principal Stefano Domenicali can have a happy 46th birthday today thanks to Alonso’s podium at the weekend. GP2 driver Julian Leal won’t be in quite such a good mood on his 21st, thanks to the accident with Davide Rigon and some rather disappointing results.

Born in Imola, Stefano was destined to enter motorsport despite studying business administration at Bologna University. The Italian graduated in 1991, and immediately joied Ferrari. He did some race directing between 1992 and 1994 for various racing series, and was soon working in a managerial position in the sporting side of the team. In 2002 he became Sporting Director, and in 2007 when Jean Todt left for the FIA presidency, he became Team Principal. It’s good to see that you don’t have to be a rich Asian businessman or an engineering type to make it to Team Principal.
Domenicali oversaw the win of the 2008 constructor’s championship, and last season’s third place with Alonso second in the championship. This year, he will be pushing the team towards winning again, and trying to close the gap on McLaren and Red Bull. This has already taking place slightly with Alonso’s podium. But they will need to overtake Red Bull soon if they are going to aim for the championship. Second place is probably the better option right now, unfortunately.

Columbian Julian Leal (also known as Omar Leal earlier in his career) competes with an Italian license in GP2. He began his career in 2006 with FR 2.0 PanamGP, finishing 9th. He quickly moved to Europe for Euroseries 3000 and Italian F3000, coming 9th in Euroseries 3000. The next year he continued in thise series, winning Italian F3000 despite not winning any races. In 2009, he moved into FR 3.5, but didn’t do very well there. In 2010 he remained in that series but also competed in AutoGP [formerly Euroseries 3000] for Trident. He took one win, one pole and one fastest lap in the same race to finish 9th.
For 2011, he has moved to GP2. He came 26th in GP2 Asia, and so far stands at 23rd in the main series. But he is driving for Rapax – the team who won the championship last year – so he should hopefully improve once he’s found his feet.

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