Crash.Net GP2 News
Coloni unveils 2012 line-up
10 January 2012
Stefano Coletti has been confirmed as Scuderia Coloni's choice for lead driver for their 2012 driver-line-up in GP2 in 2012.
The 22-year-old racer from Monaco is coming off a strong season with Trident Racing in 2011 which saw him win the GP2 Asia sprint race in Abu Dhabi, and then take too more sprint wins (at Spa and Monza) together with a second place at Silverstone before his season was prematurely ended with a crash at a water-logged Spa that sidelined him with back injuries. He returned to active duty at Abu Dhabi in November, switching to Coloni for the non-championship GP2 Final.
"I'm really happy of this agreement with Scuderia Coloni for the next GP2 season," said Coletti. "We started talking immediately after the end of the 2011 Championship and they made me understand that I was an important part of their project."
This will be Coletti's second full season in GP2 (having made his series début in two race weekends in 2009 with Durango) and Coletti is the first to admit how pivotal the forthcoming campaign will be for him.
"2012 will be a key year in my career, so I did put a lot of thinking on this choice," he said. "I wanted to be sure that the decision was the right one for my future.
"Right from the first test I did with Coloni I had an excellent feeling with the car, the engineers and the whole staff," he continued. "They are focused and their approach to the race weekend is aggressive, something that I really like. I'm looking forward to the first testing sessions and the start of the season, as the 2012 calendar is really fascinating."
Last year, Coloni started the season with Davide Rigon and Michael Herck as their drivers, but Rigon was sidelined with ankle injuries after a nasty crash at the opening GP2 weekend in Turkey and had to be replaced by teenager Kevin Ceccon for ten races. Ceccon bowed out midseason to concentrate on his AutoGP campaign and duly went on to win that championship; he was replaced at Coloni in turn by Luca Filippi, who went on to blaze his way from nowhere to second place in the drivers' championship.
Ceccon had been widely expected to take up the second Coloni seat after testing with the team at Barcelona and Jerez and then driving for Coloni at the GP2 Final, so the announcement that Coletti will instead be partnered by another AutoGP graduate Fabio Onidi came as something of a surprise.
After finishing in fifth place in the AutoGP championship in 2011 that included a race win at the first sprint race of the year at Monza, Onidi tested with Rapax in Barcelona and with Coloni alongside Ceccon at Jerez, before making his series début in the GP2 Final with Super Nova Racing where his best result was 11th in the Sunday sprint race from 18th on the grid.
"GP2 has been one of my aims in the latest seasons, so finally being part of it is a really good feeling, the first achievement of 2012 for me," said the 23-year-old from Milan, Italy. "The feeling with the team was immediate, and the same was with the car," he said, adding that "I would have liked to race with them in Abu Dhabi but in the end it wasn't possible."
While 2012 will be his rookie year, Onidi knows that he will have only one chance to make a first impression on the GP2 paddock.
"I'm pretty confident, but at the same time I know that for a driver the début year in GP2 can be a tough one," he said. "That's why I'm really pushing to be ready, both working with Scuderia Coloni's simulator at their HQ and obviously at the gym with the physical preparation. I want to be in the best possible shape when the championship starts, and the next three months will be vital for that”.
Team boss Paolo Coloni said that he had lots of reasons to be happy with his new driver line-up.
"We are heading towards the start of the season with a promising and competitive line-up, with two drivers that impressed us by how quickly they got acquainted with the team and the car in the winter testing," he said. "Stefano managed to be GP2's best rookie despite missing two race weekends due to his back injury in Spa, while Fabio showed with his results and consistency that he's ready for the huge leap to GP2.
"Our expectations are obviously high," he said, adding: "We know that we have what it takes to be successful and we aim to show that right from the start”.