Teams assemble drivers for Barcelona test
26 October 2012
The GP2 teams are heading to the Circuit de Catalunya outside Barcelona in Spain, for the first of two two-day post-season test sessions which takes place on October 30-31.
The teams will have a double agenda for the session, with a head-start on preparations for the 2013 season every bit as important as trying out potential new drivers from the next generation of aspiring motorsport talent.
Rapax have addressed this by announcing a line-up headed by their newly confirmed 2013 lead driver Stefano Coletti, who will be joined at Barcelona by the newly crowned Formula 3 Euro Series champion Daniel Juncadella. The 21-year-old Spaniard won the title at the Hockenheim ring, and also claimed the prestigious European Formula 3 Championship which ran to an off-sync schedule.
Meanwhile, iSport have announced that they will be trying out Argentina's Facu Regalia - a graduate of Formula BMW, Italian Formula 3 and European Formula 3 who has also made race starts in GP3 and the Auto GP World Series - on the Tuesday, with Pal Varhaug taking over on the Wednesday. The Norwegian has previously raced in GP2 with the DAMS team in 2011 alongside Romain Grosjean, but subsequently lost his race seat and opted to move into Auto GP with the Virtuosi UK team, with whom he claimed the runner-up position in 2012.
"Pal has previous GP2 experience, so we expect him to be comfortable quite early, while Facu will be new to GP2 and will take a little more time to get settled," explained team principal Paul Jackson, who explained that the two would be running at Barcelona alongside Jolyon Palmer, the team's confirmed driver for 2013.
"This test will let us see how these two young drivers shape up against Jolyon," he said. “It is always interesting when you have new drivers in the team, to see how they work with the engineers and how you can help them develop."
After his outing with iSport, Regalia will be spending the second day of the two-day test at Barcelona with Racing Engineering, who will be fielding four different drivers in total. Brazilian André Negrão and Canadian Gianmarco Raimondo will take to the track on Tuesday, with Regalia taking over on the Wednesday working alongside Dutchman Nigel Melker, who has just completed his first season in GP2 with Ocean Racing Technology.
A native of Sao Paulo in Brazil, 20-year-old Negrão has just completed a second season in Formula Renault 3.5 Series with International Draco Racing. Canadian driver Raimondo, 21, has worked his way up through Formula BMW Americas, Italian Formula 3, Formula 3 Euro Series and currently leads the European Formula 3 Open series with Rp Motorsport having picked up five pole positions, four wins and 11 podiums in the 14 races so far.
Over at Caterham, the team seems to have a firmer idea on who it is looking at for 2013 with Alexander Rossi looking in pole position for a race seat. He will not only work with the team at Barcelona, he will also return for both days of the second post-season test session three weeks later in November at Jerez.
"It will be great to get back behind the wheel of the Caterham Racing GP2 car," said Rossi, who is also a Caterham F1 Team test driver. "Having raced at Barcelona just over a week ago in the final round of World Series by Renault, I'm very familiar with the circuit. I have experience with both Caterham Racing and the GP2 car from my outings with Caterham last year and look forward to working closely with the whole team again at the forthcoming tests."
Rossi wil be joined at Barcelona by Lucas Foresti, another graduate of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series.
"It will be great to work with the Caterham Racing team in Barcelona and I'm excited about trying out a GP2 car for the first time at a track I already know well," said the 20-year-old Brazilian driver, who was the F3 Brazil Open champion in 2011 and who has competed in two Macau Grand Prix events and spent 2010 in GP3 with Carlin.
"I've seen how much progress Caterham Racing has made in its first two years and am looking forward to working with a team that has already won in Monaco, Barcelona and Singapore," Foresti added. "I'm sure I'll learn a lot from my time on track and I'll do my best to help the team get through what is definitely going to be a busy program."
"We are also looking forward to working with Lucas in his first GP2 test and hope we have a successful couple of days in Barcelona," said Caterham Racing team manager Phill Spencer. "We are all looking forward to the test next week and are delighted to have Alexander back with us."
Britain's Auto GP champion Adrian Quaife-Hobbs has also been confirmed as running at Barcelona next week with Barwa Addax, before he moves down the pit lane to run with Arden for the second two-day session at Jerez.
"My plan for 2013 was to make a step up to GP2, and so I was pretty amazed when I realized the amount of interest that my Auto GP title win had generated in the GP2 paddock," said Quaife-Hobbs. "I really got a lot of contacts and to me that meant a lot: it's good to have different options when you must choose how your career will progress."
Arden announced on Twitter on Friday that their drivers for Barcelona would be their regular 2012 Swiss driver Simon Trummer alongside New Zealander Mitch Evans, who clinched the GP3 championship last month at Monza with Arden's sister GP3 squad.
Other teams still to unveil their driver selections for next week's test at Catalunya are Lotus GP, Trident Racing, Venezuela GP Lazarus and Carlin.
But surely the most sough-after race seat in 2013 will be at DAMS, after the team propelled Romain Grosjean to the 2011 GP2 title and followed that up by backing Davide Valsecchi to this season's championship over Arden's Luiz Razia.
Scuderia Coloni are also expected to participate in the session after all, despite having decided to exit the series after the 2012 season. They will field two of their 2012 driver, Daniël de Jong and Luca Filippi.
There's been no word so far as to whether a replacement team will take Coloni's spot on the grid for 2013, or whether the series organisers will opt to slim down the starting grid to 24 cars.