Trident Racing have announced that they will be giving 21-year-old Monaco-born driver Stéphane Richelmi a début run in the GP2 Series next weekend, in the season finale race at Monza.
Richelmi will be substituting for a fellow Monegasque, Trident's regular driver in the #21 car Stefano Coletti, who was injured during the sprint race at Spa-Francorchamps a week ago.
Unsighted by water spray from a sudden downpour on lap 15, Coletti ran into the back of Mikhail Aleshin and was launched into the air, the impact causing Coletti to sustain two vertebral compression fractures that have meant he is unable to return to the cockpit for the final GP2 season race of the year at Monza on September 10-11. Coletti was able to leave Spa the day after the accident and return home to Monaco thanks to a private flight laid on by Ferrari F1 driver Felipe Massa.
In a press statement announcing Stéphane Richelmi's GP2 début at next weekend's race, Trident said that they were proud to be able to "profit from giving a chance to one of the best young prospects of the international panorama."
"I'm taking this as a good chance to start my GP2 Series experience," said Richelmi with an eye to the future. "The chance given me by Trident Racing is great to put myself at test, and after this weekend I'll gather some valuable feedback I'll be able to take advantage of while planning my 2012 program."
Richelmi has been racing in various regional Formula Renault and Formula 3 series across Europe for the past five years, and was runner-up in the 2010 Italian Formula Three Championship with Lucidi Motors after picking up four wins along the way. In 2011 he has competed in nine Formula Renault 3.5 races in the World Series by Renault, with the International Draco Racing team.
"I hope to be helped by my experience at the racetrack, which is the last low-downforce one left," said Richelmi in the team press release. "In this kind of configuration, the car should not be really different than the one I drove on the same circuit in the World Series, but it'll take the clock to confirm that."
Although he said that he wasn't expecting an easy time of things in his first run in a GP2 car without even an opportunity to test before the weekend, he added: "I'll be at Monza with no stress or strain, and I'll try to do the best I possibly can."