Arden International has plucked two stars from the current GP2 Asia Series for its main series campaign, with Edoardo Mortara and Sergio Perez inking deals with the 2005 series vice-champion.
The pair have managed two wins and two podiums between them in the last four Asia Series races, despite only graduating from Formula Three at the end of the 2008 campaign. Mortara follows arch-rival Nico Hulkenberg in arriving from the F3 Euroseries, while Perez moves up after a successful season in the British championship.
Mortara's deal with Arden comes after he made his debut with the team in Bahrain, a partnership that saw immediate success with the Italian on the podium in his first race. Runner-up to Hulkenberg in the Euroseries despite running the unfancied VW engine, Mortara admitted that he was delighted to be extending his agreement with the British-based Arden team.
“I am extremely excited to be racing in this year's main GP2 Series - and to be doing so with Arden,” he said, “This is a very professional team that knows how to win races. I'm already competing with them in the GP2 Asia Series and we're working really well together, so stepping up to the main championship should be straightforward.
“I already have a fantastic rapport with my engineers, Mick and Campbell, and my mechanics. I scored a podium finish in my first GP2 Asia event and hope to achieve similar results in the forthcoming races in Malaysia and Bahrain. My experiences in Asia will put me in the best possible shape for my first race in the main series, at Barcelona in May.''
A mid-season title challenger in last year's British F3 campaign, Perez secured his deal when two Asia Series wins in the last three races helped him become one of the most sought after drivers still without a contract for 2009.
With the soon-to-be-renamed Campos team, having already decided on its driver line-up for 2009, the Mexican has instead been snapped up by Arden which, in turn, benefits from secured title sponsorship from telecommunications giant Telmex.
“Driving for a team such as Arden represents a great opportunity for me and I am really looking forward to it,” says Perez, who becomes the first Mexican driver to secure a European GP2 Series seat, “Together, I believe we have great potential to mount a serious title challenge – and that has to be our goal. It is going to be an extremely tough, competitive season and I aim to make the most of the chance I have been given at an important stage of my career.
“I want to thank Telmex and all the sponsors that have made such a great effort to put me where I am. It is fantastic for Mexico to have a driver so close to F1, but I know I need to do a very good job to make it all the way to the top. I will give 100 per cent in and out of the car to help the team and fight for the championship.”
Arden finished sixth in the 2008 GP2 Series standings, scoring two wins and four podiums courtesy of newly announced STR F1 driver Sebastien Buemi, as well as running Yelmer Buurman and Luca Filippi. It has not reached the heights of a championship challenge, however, since Heikki Kovalainen lost out to fellow F1 graduate Nico Rosberg in the inaugural season showdown in Bahrain.