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DAMS opt for Ericsson and Richelmi
14 December 2012
Sweden's Marcus Ericsson has landed one of the most sought-after race seats in GP2, with confirmation that he's stepping into the lead role at DAMS for the 2013 season.
DAMS have been behind the last two successful championship campaigns, with Romain Grosjean clinching the 2011 title with the team and Davide Valsecchi following in his footsteps this year. Now the French team will seek to extend that run in 2013 with Ericsson.
"I'm extremely proud to get the opportunity to drive for the DAMS team," said Ericsson. "Their results over the last couple of years say it all."
Ericsson has been competing in the feeder series full time since 2012 when he made his debut with Super Nova and claimed his first sprint race win at Valencia. In the most recent two season he's been competing with iSport, and claimed his first feature race win this season with victory at Spa on his way to finishing eighth in the championship.
With Valsecchi no longer eligible to compete in GP2 after winning the title, and the team's second driver in 2012 Felipe Nasr already signed up for next season by Carlin, DAMS found themselves in need of an all-new line-up for next season and duly went to work auditioning drivers at the four post-season test days at Barcelona in October and Jerez in November.
"After testing successfully together in the Jerez post-season tests, there were no doubts as to where I wanted to be in 2013," said Ericsson, who spent a day with the team at Jerez. "The preparations for next year have already started and I feel ready to fight at the front of the championship together with DAMS.”
Other drivers who tested with DAMS after the end of the season were Nigel Melker, Arthur Pic, Sergey Sirotkin, Mitch Evans and Rio Haryanto. Stephane Richelmi also spent a day with the team at Jerez in November, and was ultimately the choice of team CEO Jean-Paul Driot to pair with Ericsson.
"I'm delighted that Marcus and Stéphane have signed with us for 2013," said Driot. "Both have experience in GP2 and they're bringing us a perfect combination of maturity and fieriness."
Richelmi made his GP2 début in the final race of the 2011 season at Monza as a stand-in for the injured Stefano Coletti, and was retained by Trident for a full rookie season in 2012 that saw him win his first podium at Silverstone.
Being picked up by the current championship-winning team is a big step up for the 22-year-old Monegasque, who is the younger son of former French Gravel Rally Champion Jean-Pierre Richelmi.
"I'm very happy and very proud to be a part of the DAMS family," he said. "I hope to fight at the front next year while helping DAMS to clinch another teams' title."
Richelmi explained that he'd put a great deal of thought and effort into ensuring he signed up with the right team for his 2013 sophomore effort.
"After a fairly difficult 2012 season I was determined to have a good winter test session to join a top team and improve in 2013," he said. "Thus, I drove for Lotus GP for one day, then with Trident, and finally with DAMS. I soon chose the reigning teams' title holder.
"The way the engineers work really impressed me," he added. "The team's level of professionalism is faultless and the very pleasant ambience makes you feel at home straight away."
Team boss Driot certainly felt that the combination offered DAMS the best chance of extending their run of success in GP2.
“We've been GP2 champions for the last two years and we're hungry for more titles - we had to recruit drivers capable of keeping us at this level," he insisted. "I'm convinced that we're going to enjoy another great season in GP2 with them."
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