F1 »

Honda to test di Grassi.

Honda continues to keep its options open with regard to its 2009 Formula One line-up after revealing that it intends to test GP2 frontrunner Lucas di Grassi during this month's Barcelona group session.

The team has not confirmed whether it intends to change its line-up next season, but the rumour mill suggests that F1 veteran Rubens Barrichello could find himself as the odd man out when decision time comes - despite the Brazilian insisting that he is driving as well as ever and has no plans to retire. Honda, meanwhile, now has two young Brazilians on its testing roster for November, having confirmed that it intends to run Bruno Senna at Jerez in the coming weeks, and di Grassi's addition to the list suggests that, should it intend to dispense with Barrichello's expertise, it would look to one of his countrymen to fill the void, particularly with Brazilian oil company Petrobras coming on board for 2009.

di Grassi, meanwhile, will be keen to impress having been overlooked by Renault for next season. The RDD pilot had hoped that his sterling performance in GP2, where he finished third overall - with three race wins - despite missing the first six races would have convinced the regie to use him as replacement for Nelson Piquet Jr, but Renault confirmed earlier this week that it would field an unchanged line-up in 2009, forcing di Grassi's hand somewhat lest he find himself again restricted to a testing role.

Keen to finally graduate to a race seat in F1, the Brazilian will join Honda at the Circuit de Catalunya for the first test of the winter, where he will run alongside Senna during the 17-19 November session. di Grassi will spend all three days with the team, beginning his 'audition' with a part-day familiarisation programme and culminating in a full day of track work in this year's RA108.

"We are delighted to provide Lucas with a test," team principal Ross Brawn commented, "This is a very well-deserved opportunity for Lucas to prove his potential after such an impressive performance in GP2 this season, and during his testing responsibilities with the ING Renault F1 team. We look forward to seeing him in action and will take a keen interest in how he performs."

di Grassi served as Renault's third driver for the 2008 season, having been a part of the French marque's driver development programme since 2004, but found his seat time extremely limited as Fernando Alonso, Piquet and RDD colleague Romain Grosjean all took turns behind the wheel.

"I am very excited to have the opportunity of testing with the Honda team in Barcelona, and look forward to proving myself to the team, the 24-year old admitted, "I would like to say thank you to the Renault team for all their support and for allowing me this opportunity to help further my career.

"The next two weeks will be a very important stage in my development and I will be spending a lot of time at the Honda factory before the test to speak with the engineers and learn as much as possible in advance of the test."

Italian Luca Filippi and Briton Mike Conway appear to have been overlooked for winter tests with Honda, despite being a part of the team's own driver development initiative. Filippi struggled to make an impact in his second season of GP2 and is in danger of slipping off the radar, while Conway is reported to have turned his attention to America, where Honda powers the entire IndyCar Series field. Veteran Alex Wurz served as chief test and reserve driver after retiring from competition following a year at Williams in 2007.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Lucas di Grassi celebrates victory in the feature race at Monza   [pic credit: GP2 Series]
26.03.2017 - Race, Alain Prost (FRA) Renault Sport F1 Team Special Advisor
26.03.2017 - Race, Max Verstappen (NED) Red Bull Racing RB13 and Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault Sport F1 Team RS17
26.03.2017 - Race, Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault Sport F1 Team RS17
26.03.2017 - Race, Jolyon Palmer (GBR) Renault Sport F1 Team RS17
26.03.2017 - Race, Jolyon Palmer (GBR) Renault Sport F1 Team RS17
26.03.2017 - Race, Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault Sport F1 Team RS17 and Esteban Ocon (FRA) Sahara Force India F1 VJM10
26.03.2017 - Race, Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren MCL32 leads Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault Sport F1 Team RS17
26.03.2017 - Race, Start of the race, Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 VJM010 and Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault Sport F1 Team RS17
26.03.2017 - Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault Sport F1 Team RS17
26.03.2017 - Jolyon Palmer (GBR) Renault Sport F1 Team RS17, Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB13 and Marcus Ericsson (SUE) Sauber C36
26.03.2017 - Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault Sport F1 Team RS17
26.03.2017 - (L-R) Zak Brown (USA) McLaren Executive Director, Eric Boullier (FRA) McLaren Racing Director and Ross Brawn (GBR) Formula One Managing Director of Motorsports
26.03.2017 - Jerome Stoll (FRA) Renault Sport F1 President and Cyril Abiteboul (FRA) Renault Sport F1 Managing Director
26.03.2017 - Cyril Abiteboul (FRA) Renault Sport F1 Managing Director, Jerome Stoll (FRA) Renault Sport F1 President and Helmut Marko (AUT), Red Bull Racing, Red Bull Advisor
26.03.2017 - Alain Prost (FRA) Renault Sport F1 Team Special Advisor
26.03.2017 - Alain Prost (FRA) Renault Sport F1 Team Special Advisor
26.03.2017 - Jolyon Palmer (GBR) Renault Sport F1 Team RS17 and Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas F1 Team VF-17

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.

Gaz - Unregistered

November 07, 2008 1:43 PM

His seat is safe Macbeth but IMO, he should have been given the boot. Has been outperformed by Rubens IMO (Outqualified 9-8 and 11-3 on points). Will be a shame if Rubens is forced to retire as he clearly still has the pace. If Rubens is forced out at Honda, I hope he gets a seat at Torro Rosso.

Nanbawan - Unregistered

November 07, 2008 5:08 PM

NOT ENOUGH TEAMS IN F1... unfortunately, it doesn't look as if it will get better on this account. I really miss the time when teams could be promoted from F3000 as well as drivers. Only a few did survive -Jordan notably - but at least it helped young drivers put a toe in the series and the experienced ones could still get a shot. In other words, many things to watch for fans other than just the current fight for the top ! It's actually an important aspect in any proper sport. It would have been nice to see teams like DAMS, Oreca, Supernova, ART, etc. try their luck at this level. Let's hope future regulations can allow that again, without killing the spirit of F1, of course.

© 1999 - 2017 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.