Luca Filippi back as Coletti joins Rapax
5 September 2012
Luca Filippi is to return to GP2 this weekend at Monza with his old team Scuderia Coloni, stepping into the seat vacated yesterday with the announcement that Coloni had parted ways with their former driver Stefano Coletti.
"We thought that an all Italian line-up for our home race would have been the best thing to do," said team principal Paolo Coloni making the announcement on Wednesday. "We did a great job together last year."
Last year, Filippi transferred to Coloni after a lacklustre early part of the season with Super Nova Racing. But once he moved into the Coloni cockpit his season took off.
Monza was the final weekend of the 2011 season, and Filippi won the feature race with Coloni and then went on to finish in the points again in fifth place in the Sunday sprint race which meant that he edged Jules Bianchi for the runners-up spot by a single point, while Romain Grosjean taking the championship title.
Given Filippi's success, Coloni said that he'd expected Filippi to snap up a deal in a major series, such as Grosjean found with Lotus F1 and Jules Bianchi as Force India's test and reserve driver. That didn't happen, however, and Fillip's hopes of running the Indianapolis 500 with Rahal Letterman Lanigan also came to nothing because of a lack of sponsorship.
"Frankly I would have expected Luca to be contacted by some manufacturer for a works program this season [but] it didn't happen," said Coloni.
Filippi will be teamed with the series; remaining regular driver, Fabio Onidi.
"With Filippi and Onidi Scuderia Coloni is reassessing its role of sole Italian team that helps national talents to get under the spotlight," said Coloni.
Meanwhile, the ousted Stefano Coletti has revealed on Twitter that he will be driving for Rapax this weekend, replacing Daniël de Jong in the #21 car.
The message was short and to the point, simply stating "News: driving for rapax in monza! Wish me luck :)" He had not referred to the circumstances of his depature from Coloni on Tuesday.
A team press release later added: "Rapax is proud to announce the deal reached with driver Stefano Coletti for the upcoming GP2 Series round at Monza. The Monaco-based racer will be joining the team, owned by the Sovernigo brothers, in the penultimate round of 2012."
The team said that it was happy to be renewing a relationship with Coletti that stretched back to Coletti's previous test with them at Paul Ricard two years ago.
De Jong was only contracted for four of the GP2 weekends this season, which proved to be at Valencia, Silverstone, the Hungaroring and Spa. Even if extended, he would most likely have had to miss the GP2 races in Singapore in any case because of a clash with the AutoGP World Series in which he also competes, and which is racing the same weekend at Sonoma Raceway in California.
There had been speculation that the team's original driver from earlier in the season, France's Tom Dillmann, might get back a chance to return to the cockpit after de Jon's stint, but Coletti's move to the team for Monza suggests that Dillmann will be further out of luck. However, it's not been confirmed whether Coletti will actually also stay on for the season finale on September 22/23.
Coletti is currently in 14th position in the GP2 drivers' championship, with the overwhelming majority of his 35 points coming from two races: a fifth place finish in the Malaysia feature race in March, and a third place on the podium in Spain in May. He collected a further 3pts at Spa with eighth place in Sunday's sprint race.
The 23-year-old Coletti from Monaco moved to Coloni after spending 2011 with Trident, where he had finished in 11th place in the championship and claimed two wins in GP2 at that season's Turkish and Hungarian sprint races. A back injury sustained in an accident during a wet weather race at Spa meant he missed the end of the season while recuperating.
Coletti will be paired with Angolan racing driver Ricardo Teixeira in Monza.