Venezuela's Johnny Cecotto Jr. has won one of the most coveted race seats in GP2, and will be behind the wheel of the Barwa Addax car for the forthcoming 2012 season.
Barwa Addax won the GP2 team championship in 2011 thanks to the successes of its two drivers Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde. Pic has since been signed up by Marussia F1 for this year's Grand Prix season, with van der Garde rumoured to also be in the running for an F1 seat with HRT. Previous drivers for the team have included Lucas di Grassi, Vitaly Petrov, Romain Grosjean and Sergio Perez.
Now it's the 22-year-old Cecotto Jr. who will have the opportunity to show if he has what it takes to win races and set himself up for an F1 ride in the future.
"The fact that I'll be competing with Barwa Addax in the 2012 GP2 Series means an important step forward in my sporting career," agreed Cecotto Jr. "I hope that I can demonstrate to the Barwa Addax Team that they were right to have placed their confidence in me. I feel certain that we will have a very successful season and will be fighting for the title."
Cecotto Jr. is the eldest son of a double former world champion of motorbike racer Johnny Cecotto, who won the 350cc championship in 1975 and the Formula 750 in 1978 before switching to F1 in the 80s with Theodore Racing and Toleman. He also competed in three 24 Hours of Le Mans events.
Cecotto Jr. started his own race career in karts before moving to Formula BMW ADAC in 2005. More races followed in the German Formula Three Championship, Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup, the International Formula Master series and Formula Three Euroseries, before he entered GP2 for the final two weekends of the 2009 season with David Price Racing (DPR).
He switched to Trident for 2010 and claimed his first points in Abu Dhabi's GP2 Asia weekend before going on to take fourth place in the GP2 Monaco sprint race. In 2011 he switched to Ocean Racing Technology alongside Kevin Mirocha and Brendon Hartley but failed to score any further points. However, he did pick up a special award for "Best Fighting Spirit" at the end-of-season prize ceremony in Monza in September for his efforts to stay in the points in the Spa sprint race.
Cecotto Jr. tested with the team at Jerez in September alongside Dani Clos, but Addax opted to sign up Jolyon Palmer and Jake Rosenzweig for the non-championship GP2 Final event at Abu Dhabi in November. Palmer went on to claim third place in the feature event and fourth place in the following day's sprint race, confirming the ongoing strength of the Addax package that the team hopes will continue into 2012.
"We are delighted to welcome Johnny Cecotto on board, he is a driver we have been following over the last two seasons," said team owner and principal Alejandro Agag. "In the test which he did with us in Jerez, he demonstrated his true potential, his ability to work hard and his talent as a driver.
"It's going to be very important the experience he has gained, after having competed two full seasons in the GP2 class because it will help him to adapt quickly to the new modifications to the rulings this season," Agag continued. "We feel that he is at a very important stage in his career and we want to give him the necessary support, confident that we will achieve great results."
Barwa Addax have yet to announce who will partner Cecotto Jr. for the season. As well as Clos, the team also tried out Palmer (now with iSport), Rosenzweig, Julian Leal (now signed up by Trident) and Josef Kral during the post-season tests at Jerez and Barcelona.