iSport International principal Paul Jackson believes that moving to the former GP2 Series champions for his second season in the category could be the making of new signing Diego Nunes.
iSport unveiled Nunes as its chosen 'replacement' for Bruno Senna - who had earlier informed the team that he was going to hold out for an F1 opportunity rather than commit to GP2 at this point in the season - and will pair the Brazilian with the already confirmed Giedo van der Garde. Jackson admitted, however, that his decision was based on a hunch that Nunes could emerge as a surprise package.
"It was really a case of looking at who's around, and who we felt had the potential," he told Crash.net Radio
, "There isn't a guaranteed race-winning driver out there that's staring you in the face, [although] there's a lot of good drivers who have got potential and who you've got to make a judgement on. We took that judgement on Diego and time will prove us right or wrong, but I think he's going to be one of the dark horses that, in the right circumstances, can do very well."
Having spent his debut year with DPR, Nunes attracted a reputation as being both quick and erratic, but his new employer believes that the rough edges can be smoothed out in 2009.
"He tested for us in the winter tests, and he actually did a very good job, ending up third or fourth quickest on the day" Jackson reasoned, "We'd always felt, watching him in 2008, that there was some potential there, and that he was, if you like, in a difficult situation, but occasionally showed some real promise and did some good races. Certainly, the test with us backed that up, so he's got the potential.
"I think that there's a danger that most drivers in their first year can have what appears to be an erratic performance because of the way that GP2 is structured, with the limited amount of track time and so on. They're under a lot of pressure and don't have a lot of time to get their act together, so I think the fact that he's going to be in his second year will help an awful lot and I think, hopefully, we can offer him the right kind of environment, with a good team-mate, where they can work together and bounce information off each other to make some real significant progress."
Although van der Garde is a GP2 rookie, taking his first steps in the current Asia Series, Jackson is confident that he has the right man to pair with Nunes as iSport attempts to go one better than it managed in 2008 and reclaim the titles of two years ago.
"Giedo comes with quite a good pedigree, and is quite a polished act. He's very easy to get on with, a very nice guy, very calm, takes it very seriously and works hard at it - and those are all the right ingredients. In GP2 Asia, we haven't had the best of luck as a few circumstances have gone against us, but he's been pretty much on the pace.
"He's treating the Asia Series as something of a learning experience, getting mileage and experience in the car, so I think you'll find, when he comes to Europe, he'll be quite well prepared and he'll up his game and be somewhere on the pace, I'm sure."