Racing Engineering has confirmed that 22-year-old Swiss driver Fabio Leimer has been signed up to lead the team's 2012 GP2 championship bid.
"I am extremely happy I could sign an agreement with the Spanish Racing Engineering team and to participate with them in the 2012 GP2 Series," said Leimer. "I am really looking forward to working with Racing Engineering and am thankful to the team for believing in me and that they will always provide me with the best possible car."
Leimer tested with the team after the conclusion of the 2011 season and topped the timesheets, before going on to race for the squad in the non-championship GP2 Final event in November at Abu Dhabi. He claimed pole position in qualifying and then won the feature event, and the team is evidently hoping to pick up just where they left off for the new season.
"I am very happy that Fabio is joining the team for the 2012 season," said team president Alfonso de Orléans-Borbón. "He is a driver with tremendous talent and tenacity. He never gives up and has shown so during the post season tests as well as the race meeting in Abu Dhabi, which he dominated in the Racing Engineering car."
Racing Engineering came third in the 2011 GP2 team championship with the combined driving efforts of Dani Clos and Christian Vietoris, as well as Alvaro Parente who stood in for Vietoris early in the year after the young German suffered concussion in the first race weekend of the year at Turkey.
2011 was Leimer's second full season in GP2. After a rookie year with Ocean Racing Technology, which saw him claim a win first time out in the Spanish sprint race, Leimer repeated his success in the 2011 sprint race at the Circuit de Catalunya racing with Rapax. However he was not back into the points until the season finale at Monza, where he picked up second place in the last sprint event.
De Orléans-Borbón was clear that the expectations of the Spanish team based in Sanlucar de Barrameda were far greater than merely getting the odd race win in 2012, however.
"Our aim as a team is to make sure he wins the championship and we are putting all our tools at his disposal," said the team president. "After the great work we did together this winter, all we have to do is fine-tune everything at the next tests in Jerez and Barcelona so that the competition for the 2012 championship can begin."
Leimer himself shared the optimism for a break-through season in the feeder series.
"During these tests in Jerez and Barcelona, but also the races in Abu Dhabi we were very competitive," he pointed out. "If we work like this during the 2012 season, then I am convinced we will be quite high up in the final standings of the championship."
The team did not confirm the identity of their second driver, which will be announced at a future date.
The first race of the 2011 season will be at Sepang, in Malaysia on March 24. Prior to that there will be two pre-season test sessions for all GP2 teams that will be held in Spain, with the first at Jerez from February 28 to March 1 and the second a week later at Barcelona from March 6-8.