Filip Salaquarda is set to join Prema Powerteam for the remainder of the 2009 World Series by Renault, having inked a deal to line-up alongside Julian Leal from the fourth round of the season in Budapest next weekend [13-14 June].
The Czech driver will replace Prema's F3 Euroseries regular Stefano Coletti, who made a one-off appearance on home soil in Monte Carlo two weekends ago, leaving a vacancy at RC Motorsport in the process.
"Salaquarda has proved to be a really fast driver, and he has quite some experience too," Prema team principal Angelo Rosin pointed out, "We followed him in the 2008 Formula 3 Euroseries, but we couldn't close a deal at that time, so we're glad to have him for the season, and I'm sure we will enjoy great results during our co-operation."
Salaquarda's experience comes from the junior formula, where he has been an F3 regular for some time, and not from the World Series, where he debuted alongside the likes of Coletti and Jules Bianchi in Monaco a fortnight ago. Moving to Prema, however, is seen as an immediate step up for the Czech.
"I'm extremely happy for an opportunity like this, which could definitely boost my career," he insisted, "I had the chance to test a World Series car, making my debut at the Monaco Grand Prix in the most important event of the season, and built an immediate feeling with it: it's really tough to tame, but extremely rewarding nonetheless. I'll be facing a tough job at Prema, but I'm sure I'll manage to get repaid for my efforts. I'm also looking forward to honour them with some great results after they trusted me for this new challenge."
There will also be a new face at series newcomer KMP Group/SG Formula, with Jules Bianchi being committed to the F3 Masters at Zandvoort. After an incident-packed baptism of fire at Monaco, the team has had a little time to work on its two cars since returning to its workshop in La Rochelle, but has confirmed that Anton Nebilitskiy will be joined in Budapest by GP2 racewinner Edoardo Mortara, who will make his WSbR debut with a view to gaining track knowledge ahead of August's GP2 round.
The Hungarian round, the fourth of the season, is a key one for those taking part in the championship, for it forms the first point at which one is selected for an outing in Renault's F1 car. The series leader after the Budapest double-header will drive the ING-backed machine during Silverstone's WSBR double-header in July.
As a result, Marcos Martinez's position will be much sought after as, with three race wins to his name in five events, the Spaniard has a five-point lead over Bertrand Baguette. The Belgian has yet to win in 2009, but has finished as runner-up on three occasions, and therefore hold sway over the two Britons in third and fourth respectively, James Walker and Oliver Turvey, who have each won one race, at Spa-Francorchamps and Monaco.
All four drivers, plus fifth-placed man Miguel Molina - who is just 17 points behind the leader - will be aiming to leave Budapest in first place, but there are plenty of drivers who need a good performance on the winding Hungaroring track, starting with Charles Pic.
The Tech 1 Racing pilot, a member of the Renault Driver Development programme, needs to put his disappointing start to the season behind him with a perfect weekend in Hungary, and the situation is pretty similar for Marco Barba, who has only scored four points in the first five races.
Thanks to his pole position and race win in Monte Carlo, Turvey has blazed something of a trail for the other rookies. It is now up to Turvey to confirm that his win was no fluke by repeating the feat, but his success will have given confidence to the likes of Jaime Alguersuari, Brendon Hartley, Greg Mansell, Julian Leal, Mihai Marinescu, Sten Pentus, Chris van der Drift and Federico Leo.