Carlin Motorsport has cemented another couple of pieces in its F3 jigsaw with the signing of Red Bull duo Brendon Hartley and Daniel Ricciardo for respective campaigns in Europe and Britain in 2009.
Now 19, Kiwi Hartley rejoins Carlin for a second season, but makes the switch from the British national series to the F3 Euroseries, while Australian Ricciardo joins
the reigning British champions for his first full year in the category.
Hartley completed his first season of F3 racing with Carlin in the 2008 British series, running eventual top two Jaime Alguersuari and Oliver Turvey - both Carlin team-mates - close in the final standings. His five race wins were only matched by eventual champion Alguersuari, and his immediate speed was marked by four fastest laps and ten front row starts – more than any other driver throughout the season.
While carrying out an extensive winter test programme with Carlin, Hartley has also sampled F1 power for the first time, having been called up to test with the Red Bull Racing team in place of the injured Mark Webber during December. The teenager impressed with his ability to adapt to the F1 machine before heading straight from Jerez to Valencia where rejoined Carlin to complete the team's final F3 test of 2008.
“Brendon is a very valued and well-liked member of the team," principal Trevor Carlin commented, "He showed stunning pace in British F3 last year and, towards the end of the season, a new maturity and confidence emerged in his racing which I'm sure we'll see again in Euroseries in 2009."
Ricciardo, meanwhile, will follow a similar career path to his new team-mate by joining Carlin's championship-winning British F3 team from the Formula Renault Eurocup, where he ended the season as vice-champion. The 19-year driver was a frontrunner throughout the 2008 campaign, taking six wins and seven podiums to finish just
four points shy of the title.
The Australian learnt his craft in the 2006 Formula BMW Asia championship, where he finished third overall and went on to finish fifth in the FBMW World Finals. Ricciardo went on to compete in the Formula Renault Italy championship in 2007, his success attracting the attention of Red Bull, which made him part of its Junior Team for 2008. Like Hartley before him, he made his F3 debut with an unexpected call-up to contest the annual Masters event at Zolder, but was unable to pocket a result after being involved in a first lap accident while running with French team SG Formula.
“I'm delighted that Red Bull have entrusted us with one of their most promising young drivers," Carlin said of Ricciardo, "Daniel has been fantastic so far in testing - he's been quick, consistent and has gelled really well into the team. Although 2009 will be his first full year in F3, I think we can expect some great performances
Ricciardo will join the already-confirmed Max Chilton and Henry Arundel in Carlin's UK line-up which, although no official confirmation has been forthcoming, should be powered by Volkswagen engines, after Red Bull decided to align its motorsport programme with the German giant. Confirmation of the deal - which would also see Carlin running VW power in Europe, is expected imminently.