Former F1 driver Romain Grosjean won the first GP2 Asia in 2008 ahead of Sebastian Buemi and Vitaly Petrov, and duly moved up to F1 with seven GP appearances in 2009. However he was not retained by the team for the following season and was replaced by Petrov, although Pirelli did make use of his testing services replacing Nick Heidfeld, ahead of their return to F1 as a tyre supplier.
Instead, the 25-year-old French/Swiss driver returned to GP2 with DAMS in mid-season, briefly replacing Jerome d'Ambrosio at the Hockenheim round before then filling in for d'Ambrosio's injured team mate Ho-Pin Tung for the final three events of the year. He finished 14th in the championship despite competing in fewer than half the events.
"In just a few races last year the team welcomed me with open arms, and I soon understood that we were linked by a common objective – to make it to the top!" said Grosjean on Tuesday. "I've got no doubts about the level of performance of the cars prepared by DAMS, and I know we'll get the best out of them. We'll all chase the title together."
Grosjean's new team mate Pal Varhaug will be one of the youngest drivers on the GP2 grid, turning 20 today (January 26). Born in Stavanger, Norway, he started his single-seater career with Jenzer Motorsport in the the Swiss Formula Renault 2.0 championship in 2007 as well as selected races in Formula Renault 2.0 NEC and Italian Formula Renault 2.0 before moving to the latter series full-time to win the championship in 2008 alongside driving duties in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0.
In 2009 he moved to the International Formula Master series and finished 5th, and was runner-up in the rookie classification to Alexander Rossi. In 2010 he moved to the new GP3 series and became its first-ever race winner with victory at the season-opener at Barcelona, and while he failed to score any further points during the year (a third place at Spa being penalised for overtaking under the safety car) he had nonetheless caught the eye of GP2 team owners.
"Pal convinced us that he's a promising driver in the making during the GP2 tests at the end of 2010 in Abu Dhabi," DAMS' general manager Loic Davidsaid. "Normally, a debutant is around 1.5 seconds slower than the quickest on the first day, and he was only one second behind an experienced driver."
"Romain Grosjean's experience combined with the talent of young Pal Varhaug has given our title ambitions a serious boost," agreed the team's Chief Executive Officer Jean-Paul Dirot. "The 2011 GP2 Series looks very exciting from both a sporting and technical point of view. We're waiting to see how things will unfold [and] hoping to be among the front-runners in 2011."
The DAMS team was founded in 1988 and is based at Le Mans in France. They came 6th in the 2010 G2 championship with the combined efforts of d'Ambrosio, Tung and Grosjean. DAMS also operated the A1GP teams for France, Switzerland, Mexico and South Africa at various points of that now-defunct series, winning the inaugural year with Team France.
The first GP2 Asia race is on February 11, while GP2 is scheduled to begin on May 7 as one of the support events at the Turkish F1 Grand Prix.