Caterham chance for van der Garde

Today Caterham announced their reserve driver for 2012. The GP2 race winner had been hinting on his Twitter account that something would be revealed today, so it was no surprise for Giedo van der Garde to be announced in that position. Van der Garde, originally linked with the race seat at HRT, partnered Charles Pic at Addax last season to help the team to victory.

In his rookie GP2 season, the Dutchman was with iSport. He won three races, and finished 7th in the championship. In 2010 he didn’t win any races, but got several second places to again finish 7th in the championship. Last season he still failed to make the top step of the podium but secured extra points with pole and a fastest lap at Barcelona. With a total of five podiums, he finished 5th in the championship. He also finished 3rd in GP2 Asia 2011, with a double podium at Imola.
A very consistent driver, van der Garde will get Friday outings for Caterham. This seems to be the way teams are going with regard to getting drivers F1 experience before potentially taking them on as a race driver the next season. It remains to be seen whether van der Garde will be driving for Caterham in GP2 this year.

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New driver announcements

It has been a busy day in the world of motor racing, with driver announcements across all levels of the sport, in single-seaters and tin-tops. Here’s a summary of the single-seater news:

Formula One
First up, HRT revealed their second driver to be none other than Narain Karthikeyan, who drove a part-season for them last year. He and Pedro de la Rosa will make up the oldest team on the grid, and will have a combined age of 76 years at the Melbourne GP. Despite this, they have less F1 experience than several other teams, having only 113 F1 starts between them.
Ferrari and Force India both launched their cars today – the F2012 and the VJM05. Ferrari’s rather ugly, square design and Force India’s smoother design both have the platypus nose that was first seen on the Caterham CT-01.

GP2
Josef Kral is the latest driver to be confirmed for the series. The Czech, who drove for Arden last season and picked up podiums in Monaco and Belgium, will be driving alongside Johnny Cecotto at Addax.

GP3
Marussia Manor Racing have confirmed their first driver as Dmitry Suranovich, who is currently competing in the Toyota Racing Series in New Zealand. Born in Belarus, Suranovich is a Russian citizen and drives under a Russian license. The 16-year-old last year competed in Formula Arbath Europe and Italy. He did not have brilliant results. However, his rookie season in TRSNZ is going well and he is 9th in the championship, having picked up a podium at Timaru.
Carlin have also been confirming drivers in various series, including one in GP3. This is Alex Brundle, son of Martin, who will also be competing in European rounds of the WEC. Brundle had mixed luck in F2 last year, taking one pole and three podiums and finishing 7th in the championship.

British F3
A number of drivers have now been confirmed for the 2012 BF3 season, very few of whom are British. Carlin have five drivers signed so far – Pietro Fantin (BRA), Jazeman Jaafar (MAL), Jack Harvey (GBR), Carlos Sainz, Jr (ESP) and Harry Tincknell (GBR). At Fortec, Pipo Derani (BRA) joins FR UK champion Alex Lynn and another graduate of the series Felix Serralles. Only one driver – Spike Goddard (AUS) has been confirmed for T-Sport so far.

IndyCar
Takuma Sato, who drove for KV Racing for the last two seasons, was today announced as Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (wow, long name or what?) lead driver. The Japanese driver has taken two poles and a best finish of fourth in his career so far. This will be Rahak’s first full IndyCar season since 2008, and they also hope to run a second car at some point.

Bacheta signs up for full F2 season

F2 announced its first driver today with Luciano Bacheta, a British racer of Indian and Italian descent. In 2011, Bacheta began in GP3, taking fifth in the Silverstone feature race having started 24th after a great decision to start on wet tyres. He left GP3 to compete in a part-season of F2, taking top-ten finishes in all his races including a best of fifth in the second race at Monza. He beat Jordan King, who also had four top-ten finishes, by a single point, and only lost out to Thiemo Storz, who was doing a complete season, by the same amount.
Bacheta, who will be driving the number four car, said on Twitter “It’s confirmed, I’m racing F2 this year!!! So happy and excited for the season :-).” (@LucianoBacheta)

Also confirmed today was Johnny Cecotto, Jr., who will be driving for Addax in the 2012 GP2 season. The German-born Venezuelan who is the son of motorbike champion Johnny Cecotto will be entering his third full season in the sport.
Finn Aaro Vainio, meanwhile, continues his GP3 campaign as Lotus confirm he will be partnering Daniel Abt at the team. Vainio picked up 12 points last season, including third in the Barcelona feature race. Though his results were inconsistent, this should improve with the change of team.

Four seats TBA in GP2 final

GP2
Addax have confirmed that Jolyon Palmer, who drove for Arden this season, will be one of their two drivers for the GP2 final in Abu Dhabi. The second will be American Jake Rosenzweig from Formula Renault. At Ocean Racing, French driver Nicolas Marroc will be joining Antonio Felix da Costa. Marroc currently drives in the International GT Open, but last year took part in the F3 Euroseries. He is the third Frenchman currently signed up for the final.
The remaining seats to be announced are at Arden and Super Nova.

F1
In the young drivers’ test, Dani Clos (GP2) will be driving for HRT; Renault/Lotus will have Formula Renault 3.5 champion Robert Wickens, Estonian Kevin Korjus, and their reserve driver Jan Charouz; and Max Chilton will be driving for Force India.
Korjus will be only the second Estonian to drive an F1 car, and along with Kevin Ceccon will be one of the first drivers called ‘Kevin’ in an F1 car since 1981.

Race of Champions
Marussia Virgin’s Timo Glock will be competing in the ROC alongside Timo Scheider, the German touring car star. They will make up a second German team, with the first being Schumacher and Vettel.

In other news, former F1 driver for Williams and Team Lotus and American CART champion Alex Zanardi, who was injured in a CART accident in 2001, has won the New York Marathon handcycling class. Good work!

Pic attempts to break into F1

Charles Pic, one of the major contenders for GP2’s runner-up spot going into the final races of the season (along with teammate Giedo van der Garde, Jules Bianchi, and Luca Filippi), doesn’t want to be in the series any more. French and Belgian media have been reporting that he is in negotiations with three teams: Virgin, Lotus and Toro Rosso.
He won two races last season: the feature at Barcelona, and the sprint at Monaco where he started from reversed pole position. At Valencia he suffered the traditional GP2 pole position curse, when he retired from both races. He also had pole at the Nurburgring and Monza, each time finishing the feature race second, but he was disqualified from the sprint in Germany, and retired in Italy. That retirement left the battle for GP2 runner-up to Filippi and Bianchi, which the Italian eventually won.
The Frenchman has only completed two years of the series, but he had an impressive first season with Arden after winning his first race (the Spanish feature). He also had a pole at Hockenheim, which he converted into third place. Looking further back, he also has a good record from Formula Renault 3.5: four wins, seven podiums and three poles. In his debut season he finished 6th, and came third in 2009. He came third in his only season of Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup as well.

Getting into F1 is tough, but Pic has a good record. On the other hand, Virgin have interest in Robert Wickens, Lotus have Alex Rossi and Karun Chandhok as well as their GP2 team, and Toro Rosso have four drivers to decide between.

Trident take over Addax in GP3

GP2 team Trident Racing announced today that they will be entering the GP3 series in place of Addax, with whom they have made an agreement. The Italian team have had a successful GP2 career, and are hoping to expand themselves into the category’s junior series. Meanwhile Addax will be focusing on GP2, having become team champions this season.

Trident began participating in GP2 in 2006. Their seasons have been up-and-down, picking up four wins before they got any other podium finishes, but never with any consistency. This is never more dramatically shown than in the Monaco sprint of 2008, when Mike Conway and Ho-Pin Tung scored a Trident 1-2. It was Ho-Pin Tung’s second and last points score of the season – the first coming in the feature race where he finished seventh. Conway also had only a handful of points finishes.
This year, Trident racing have been Rodolfo Gonzalez and GP3 graduate Stefano Coletti. And the Monegasque driver did them proud, picking up points throughout the season. This included two sprint race wins, coming back from 21st in Hungary due to clever tactics. Unfortunately his teammate has failed to score points, and Coletti was injured at Spa. He was replaced by compatriot Stephane Richelmi at Monza, but should return next season.

Addax’s GP2 success has been phenomenal. Founded in 2005 as Campos Racing, their first two seasons were not impressive. But in 2007 they finished third in the driver’s championship with Vitaly Petrov and Giorgio Pantano. The name change came in 2008, and since then the team has been champion twice and runner-up twice. They have successfully brought two GP2 runner-ups into F1 (Petrov and Perez) and also did a good job with Grosjean in 2009 before he joined Renault.
This season, both Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde have had strong seasons for Addax, and both would have deserved to be runner-up or third-placed. Despite being beaten by Bianchi and Filippi in the final rounds, they still won the team their championship.
In GP3, they haven’t had the same success, finishing eighth both years. They had a couple of podiums in 2010, and two more this year with Dean Smith.

I hope the switchover goes well, and that Trident have a successful time in GP3. As for Addax, expect another strong GP2 season for 2012.

GP2 race and season summary

In the GP2 race, it was a hectic first couple of laps which saw Charles Pic find himself in a tangle of cars and he took himself out of the race with Romain Grosjean’s rear wing. Grosjean rejoined the race two laps down with a replacement wing. Meanwhile Jules Bianchi found himself in third after cutting the chicane at the start and then being overtaken by Fabio Leimer. He had Sam Bird on his tail, and Luca Filippi overtook to fifth before sticking behind them. In their current positions, unless Bianchi got the fastest lap, Luca would be second in the championship.
They processed around their track, a rather quiet race with not much overtaking. Esteban Gutierrez the former GP3 champion found himself sixth for his final point of the season. Meanwhile, after going straight on at one of the chicanes and finding himself a short way behind third and fourth, Luca set the fastest lap as he was getting himself back with Bianchi and Bird. This sealed his second place finish in the championship, a position previously held by Heikki Kovalainen, Nelson Piquet Jr, Lucas di Grassi, Bruno Senna, Vitaly Petrov and Sergio Perez. Bianchi finished third, where he also finished last season.
Luca Filippi has been in GP2 since 2006. This year he finally beat his previous-best of fourth with Super Nova in 2007. He has competed 107 races in the series with five wins, seven seconds, four thirds. He has had two pole positions and nine fastest laps – five of which he achieved in the last eight races.
What’s next for Luca? Well, it could be F1 although the Italian has expressed interest in IndyCar. Championship winner Romain Grosjean will almost certainly be racing next year, and will definitely be racing in 2013. It’s gonna be good.

Charles Pic ended up fourth in the championship with Giedo van der Garde fifth. Sam Bird came sixth with today’s winner Christian Vietoris seventh. AirAsia’s Davide Valsecchi finishes eighth despite a troubled second half to the season, followed by Dani Clos and Marcus Ericsson. Stefano Coletti’s accident means he finishes eleventh as he had no chance to make up the three points to the Swede.
Teams champion was Addax with 101 points, followed by DAMS with 89 – all supplied by Romain Grosjean. In third, the mighty Racing Engineering with 75 points, and five points behind them are iSport. Lotus ART are only two behind iSport on 68, and in their first season AirAsia finish with 49 points.
Scuderia Coloni finish seventh – Luca Filippi’s amazing end of season not able to help them enough but shooting them well off the bottom of the table where they were for most of the season. They had 46 points. Trident in eighth only managed 22 points thanks to two wins in sprint races. Super Nova managed ninth with 20 points, and Rapax were 10th with 15 but equal to Arden International apart from their sprint race win from Fabio Leimer. Ocean came in 12th with four points – the same as Carlin who finish their first season in last place.