F2 Birthdays: 7/8/2011

Alex Brundle, the son of British F1 Commentator and former F1 driver Martin Brundle, celebrates his 21st birthday today. A racing driver himself, he currently participates in Formula Two.

In 2006, Alex began his open-wheel career, moving into Formula Palmer Audi from T Cars – both series run by Jonathan Palmer. He took part in the Autumn Trophy and finished 21st.
The next year he took part in the main series and finished 11th, then 8th in the Autumn Trophy. On the rise, he took part in the main series in 2008 and got three podiums and his first pole position. He came sixth.
With the revival of F2, Alex joined in the 2009 season but struggled. He gained only five points (under the old 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 system) to finish 19th. So the next year he switched to British F3. He got 11 points and finished 17th.
This year, Alex returned to F2 fresher and hoping for better. He has been a good qualifier, but has been hit with problems in his home races with punctures and mechanical problems. His best weekend was at Magny-Cours when he secured his first F2 pole position and finished on the podium in both races. He has 59 points and is eighth in the championship.
Still to secure his first win in open-wheel racing, Alex is likely to race with his dad in endurance racing next year. But it all depends on how the rest of the season goes. Certainly he has plenty of other driving opportunities even if they take him away from where Martin went. But you don’t always have to follow in your parent’s footsteps. Good luck to him.

GP2, F2 Birthdays: 3/8/2011

The two racing drivers who celebrate their birthdays today are the same age. Jules Bianchi and Tobias Hegewald are both 22 today.

French GP2 driver Jules Bianchi is the grand-nephew of Belgian F1 driver Lucien Bianchi, who was born Luciano in Milan. Lucien’s best finish was third in Monaco in 1968 driving for Cooper. He shared the podium with Graham Hill and Richard Attwood in a race where only 5 drivers finished of 16, and the last retirement was on lap 16 – a long way before the end.
Anyway back to Jules, who began driving in French Formula Renault in 2007. He won the series with 5 wins, 5 poles and 10 fastest laps. In 2008 he came third in F3 Euroseries despite only 2 wins. The winner that year was Nico Hulkenberg.
In 2009, he won the F3 Euroseries title taking 9 wins, and moved into GP2 for the next season. Immediately he prospered, coming third overall. He seems to have a great ability to adapt to new cars quickly. In the four-race GP2 Asia series this year he finished second.
Though Jules was tipped to take the GP2 title this season, he has has a lot of bad luck. After a good start, he had a lot of non-points finishes which dropped him down the table. But a recent resurgence has pushed him back up to fourth and he is likely to finish in the top three or four.
Jules is a Ferrari test driver, and one that the Scuderia have their eye on for the future. But as long as Sauber are watching Esteban Gutierrez and have Kobayashi and Perez as their main drivers, Ferrari are going to struggle to get him into F1.

Tobias Hegewald began racing in 2005, taking part in German Formula BMW. He finished 20th in his first season. The next year he finished 13th. He also took place in some FBMW USA races.
In 2007, he began driving in FR2.0 Eurocup and the Northern European Cup. He did well in the NEC and finished 2nd with 3 wins and 297 points. He continued in both series for 2008, as well as competing in the Formula Palmer Audi Autumn Trophy. He finished 5th in Eurocup FR, 3rd in the NEC and 7th in the FPA trophy.
For 2009 he participated in his first Formula Two season, and also drove two races in FR 3.5. He finished 6th overall in F2, and decided to move to GP3 for its inaugural season in 2010. He drove for Mucke Motorsport, scoring 6 points for them and finishing 22nd – that’s not too bad in a field of 30 or more drivers.
This year, Tobias has moved back to F2 and is currently 5th with 91 points. He achieved his first pole position of the season in the first Brands Hatch race. He’s unlikely to catch up with Mirko Bortolotti, but his future looks good.

F2 Birthdays: 16/6/2011

French Formula Two driver Benjamin Lariche celebrates his 24th birthday today. Born in the south of France, he began racing in Formula Renault in 2006. He moved into the main French series in 2007, which became the Western European Cup in 2008. He also competed in one race in Formula Renault Portugal (a quickly abandoned series) which he won from pole, taking the fastest lap.
In 2010, after finishing 10th twice in the WEC, he moved to Formula Two. He finished 14th with 33 points last year, his best finish being a sixth place at the Circuit de Valencia – the final round of the championship – though he scored points in most races.
The start to the 2011 season has been tricker, with a number of good drivers all competing fiercely for the championship. He has one point and is currently 16th, but has managed to avoid retiring from any races so far. The next F2 race is a week on Saturday in Spa.

F1, F2 Birthdays: 12/6/11

Neil Oatley is the less-prominent half of the McLaren technical leadership, and today he celebrates his 57th birthday. Maxim “Max” Snegirev is a London-based Russian racing driver in Formula Two, celebrating his 24th birthday today.

Graduating from Loughborough in 1976, Neil joined Williams in 1977 where he worked alongside Patrick Head, and soon became race engineer for Clay Regazzoni and Carlos Reutemann. In 1984 he moved to the FORCE F1 project, an American attempt to race in Formula One which lasted less than two seasons (1985-86) under the team name Haas Lola. They earned six points altogether, which is respectable considering their short time in the team and the relative difficulty back then of scoring points.
McLaren snapped Neil up shortly afterwards, and when his boss Gordon Murray moved to the road car side Neil became Chief Designer. He took titles in 1989, 1990, 1991, 1998 and 1999. In 2003 he was made Executive Director of Engineering.

Max Snegirev’s racing career began with Formula Palmer Audi in 2007, finishing 19th. The next year he continued in the series and finished 11th, before a brief forray into Formula Renault UK. He drove a full season with British Formula Three national class, with 108 points and a 4th place finish. In 2010 he moved into the main BF3 series, with points a lot harder to come by. He finished 18th overall.
This year he has moved to Formula Two. He scored two points in his first race, and is fifteenth overall.