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Carlin and Trident finalise 2011 drivers
27 January 2011
New British GP2 outfit have signed British driver Max Chilton for their first season in the series, racing alongside Russia's Mikhail Aleshin in both the GP2 and GP2 Asia series in 2011.
Despite being just 19-years-old, Chilton has already completed a full season in both GP2 and GP2 Asia. He drove for Ocean Racing Technology in the main series last year and finished in 24th position, having scored 3pts. His highest finish during the year was the sprint race at Monza. Previously he drove most of the 2009-10 GP2 Asia season for Barwa Addax, but his only points finishes came when he switched to Ocean for the second Abu Dhabi weekend.
Chilton had previously competed in the 2009 British F3 International Series, claiming two race wins and five podiums and taking 4th place in the championship driving for Carlin. He said: "I'm really happy to be back with Carlin; I have a lot of good memories from my time with the team in 2009 and it feels very right to be with them in GP2. I learnt a lot in my rookie season and I feel like I'm really going to be able to make the most of those lessons now with Carlin.
"I feel very confident that we have a package that will enable me to challenge for podiums this season."
Alongside him at Carlin will be Formula Renault 3.5 champion Mikhail Aleshin. The Moscow-born driver won three races and claimed eight podiums on his way to the title, making Aleshin the first Russian to have won an international championship.
"It is an amazing feeling to be with a great team again, especially after what we achieved together last year," he said. "I'd like to thank them for this opportunity. I know how important this year is for the team with it being their first season in GP2 and I am determined to give 100 per cent for them."
Aleshin said that the changes to the GP2 car this season will make it a much more even and competitive championship. "Also, the car this year will be even closer to an F1 car - in terms of power, aerodynamics and tyres, and this was one of the main reasons that I chose to race in GP2 this season."
"We have a very close working relationship with Mikhail. He is a very mature driver with a lot of experience who we expect to be a great asset to the team this season," said racing director Trevor Carlin. "Max had a fantastic season in F3 with us in 2009 and it's great to have him back racing with us this year. His experience in GP2 last year will prove invaluable to the team in 2011."
The Carlin team has been operating since 1996 when they were originally formed to operate a pit-stop challenge around Europe for the Williams F1 team. Since then the Hampshire-based outfit has grown into a full racing team and has competed in Porsche Supercup, Nissan World Series, Formula BMW UK, World Series by Renault and F3 Euro Series. They joined the GP3 series last year, and this year make their debut in GP2.
Meanwhile, Trident Racing also announced the signing of Rodolfo Gonzalez to complete their own driver line-up for the coming GP2 and GP2 Asia campaigns.
The Caracas, Venezuela-born driver has been in GP2 since replacing Andreas Zuber at FMS International in the 2008-9 GP2 Asia series. He was only given one-off weekend outings in the subsequent 2009 GP2 and 2009-10 GP2 Asia series, running for Trident, Arden International and Barwa Addax before finally getting a full season of GP2 starts with Arden last year. He scored 4pts during the season - all of them at the Belgium weekend at the end of August - and ended up in 24th position in the championship.
"I'm really satisfied to have with us a driver like Rodolfo, who proved, during the latest winter test he entered with our team, to have huge determination, and a strong will to emerge at the top," said team founder Maurizio Salvadori. "We'll be able to count on a really motivated racer with an one-year experience in the championship."
Gonzalez will be joined at Trident by Monaco-based driver Stefano Coletti, whose signing was announced by Trident last October. Coletti appeared in three races in GP2 in 2009 for Durango and last year competed in both GP3 and the Formula Renault 3.5 Series.
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.
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