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Teams gather for second two-day test

18 October 2011

The GP2 field is busy preparing for another two-day test session this week, with Barcelona the destination on Wednesday and Thursday for cars and equipment before they're shipped off to the next race weekend in the Middle East.

Once again a variety of drivers are being given a chance to try out the GP2/11 chassis, as teams look around for candidates to pilot their cars in the GP2 Final in Abu Dhabi next month as well as longer-term planning for the full 2012 GP2 season.

Racing Engineering have once again opted to field GP2 regular Fabio Leimer, who dominated the September testing in Jerez by topping three of the timesheets and recording the fastest time of anyone during the two days there. Leimer will be joined for both days by Formula Renault driver Nathanaël Berthon, who had outings with iSport and Lotus ART at Jerez and who previously competed for the team in the GP2 Asia Series at the start of 2011.

For their part, iSport International are opting to test four drivers at Barcelona, with Marcus Ericsson alongside Tom Dillmann on Wednesday and Nigel Melker and Kuba Giermaziak taking over on Thursday.

"We are looking forward to having Ericsson back with us and he will be experimenting with suspension developments with next year in mind," said iSport's chief engineer Gavin Jones. "It will be Polish driver Giermaziak's first GP2 run after a successful Porsche Supercup campaign where he currently lies 2nd, and Dillman and Melker will be carrying on from their impressive debut tests at Jerez."

Over at Caterham Team AirAsia, American driver Alexander Rossi had already been announced for the test session for both days, and the team confirmed at the weekend that he will be joined by Team Lotus third driver Luiz Razia for one day, and by Rodolfo Gonzalez for the other.

"We are very proud to maintain and nurture the relationships we have with these young drivers," said team principal Riad Asmat. "We had a positive test in Jerez last month and I am confident the drivers we have in the car [this] week will do a sterling job before we move onto Abu Dhabi for the final GP2 race of the year."

"It is very good that we maintain the continuity with both Alexander and Luiz and welcome Rodolfo to the team for his outing - he already has links with us since he tested with our F1 counterparts last year at the Abu Dhabi young driver test," added team manager Phill Spencer. "We are in discussions with several drivers for the race seats for Abu Dhabi too, so everything is looking very positive and we are keen to get out on the track again before the year comes to a close."

Trident Racing will have 2011 season regular Stéphane Richelmi returning to the cockpit for the team, with Josef Kral joining him on the first day and Sam Bird on the second. Both Kral and Bird also tested with Trident at the last two-day session in Jerez in September.

British F3 series runner-up Kevin Magnussen will take a seat at Carlin for both days at Barcelona, building on a strong Formula Renault 3.5 test last week in which he was quick around the Catalan circuit. "We know that Kevin is a very quick driver around Barcelona," said Carlin. "It will be very interesting how quickly he adapts to the demands of the GP2 car over the two days."

Carlin have recalled their 2011 driver Max Chilton for Wednesday's test session in the other car, before handing over the keys to former Arden driver Jolyon Palmer for Thursday. "Max will continue the great development we began in Jerez to make us even stronger next year," said team boss Trevor Carlin. "It will be good to have another experienced GP2 racer like Jolyon in the car and we look forward to his feedback."

Palmer will also test with Barwa Addax on Wednesday, where he will be alongside fellow series regular Julian Leal. Josef Kral and American driver Jake Rosenzweig take over for the championship-winning team on Thursday.

Stefano Coletti will also be back in a GP2 car, 53 days after a crash during a wet race at Spa while racing with Trident left him with a compression fracture of two vertebrae and the cracking of a third. His orthopaedic consultant, Dr Giancarlo Raffermi, said: "We observed a period of absolute rest during the three weeks following the incident and then we started physiotherapy ... A complete recovery will need 2 to 3 more weeks of work but this test will allow us to check on the progress obtained so far."

Coletti will spend Wednesday with the Dams team and then move on to test with the Coloni squad. "I cannot wait to be back at the wheel of the GP2 Dallara after such a long and difficult period. This is the first time - and hopefully the last - that I am forced to miss tests and races for so long ... I want to start working to be ready, if possible, for Abu Dhabi's race in November."

Coletti will be paired at Coloni with Auto GP champion Kevin Ceccon, who is the team's confirmed selection for next month's GP2 Final. "We are really happy of having Kevin with us already in Barcelona, that way we will have the time to prepare ourselves for the Abu Dhabi finale in the best possible fashion," said team boss Paolo Coloni. Dani Clos will pair Ceccon on Wednesday.

At Dams, Coletti will be testing alongside Indonesian Auto GP driver Rio Haryanto, while 20-year-old British driver Adrian Quaife Hobbs will step into the car on the second day after a season in Formula Three Euroseries in 2010 and GP3 in 2011.

Over in the Ocean Racing Technology garage, Antonio Felix da Costa will return to the team on Thursday after a promising one-day stint with the team in Jerez which saw him set the sixth fastest time on the second day in Jerez. "I am sure that we can be in the top 5 or 6 in the Barcelona tests," he said. "The first session went very well and my goal, and the team's goal, is to take it to the next level in our development process." He is already confirmed to drive the Ocean car in next month's GP2 Final, and will spend the Wednesday with Lotus ART.

New Zealander Brendon Hartley - who appeared in the final two rounds of the 2011 GP season for Ocean - will also be testing, as will Dutch driver Nigel Melkur on the Wednesday before his day with iSport.

"We have a dual objective," said the team's general managers, Tiago Monteiro and Jose Guedes. "Testing drivers in order to establish the best driver line-up for 2012, and finding the best technical solutions before the upcoming Abu Dhabi races."

Lotus ART have already announced that Mexican driver Esteban Gutierrez will be taking part in both days of testing at Barcelona, as well as racing at Abu Dhabi before going into a confirmed second full season with the team in 2012.

Barcelona testing line-up

Barwa Addax

  • Jolyon Palmer (Wed)

  • Julian Leal (Wed)

  • Josef Kral (Thurs)

  • Jake Rosenzweig (Thurs)


Dams

  • Rio Haryanto

  • Stefano Coletti (Wed)

  • Adrian Quaife Hobbs (Thurs)


Racing Engineering

  • Fabio Leimer

  • Nathanaël Berthon


iSport International

  • Marcus Ericsson (Wed)

  • Tom Dillmann (Wed)

  • Nigel Melker (Thurs)

  • Kuba Giermaziak (Thurs)


Lotus ART

  • Esteban Gutierrez

  • Antonio Felix da Costa (Wed)

  • James Calado (Thurs)


Caterham Team AirAsia

  • Alexander Rossi

  • Luiz Razia (Wed)

  • Rodolfo Gonzalez (Thurs)


Scuderia Coloni

  • Kevin Ceccon

  • Dani Clos (Wed)

  • Stefano Coletti (Thurs)


Trident Racing

  • Stéphane Richelmi

  • Josef Kral (Wed)

  • Sam Bird (Thurs)


Super Nova Racing

  • Adrian Quaife-Hobbs (Wed)

  • Jake Rosenzweig (Wed)

  • Albert Costa (Thurs)

  • Giacomo Ricci (Thurs)



Rapax

  • Fabio Onidi

  • Pal Varhaug (Wed)

  • Julian Leal (Thurs)


Arden International

  • Craig Dolby

  • Roberto Merhi (Wed)

  • Simon Trummer (Thurs)


Carlin

  • Kevin Magnussen

  • Max Chilton (Wed)

  • Jolyon Palmer (Thurs)


Ocean Racing Technology

  • Brendon Hartley

  • Nigel Melkur (Wed)

  • Antonio Felix da Costa (Thurs)




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