Ma Qing Hua to test with Caterham GP2 squad
25 February 2013
With the GP2 Series teams set to commence their first three-day pre-season test at the Circuit de Jerez on Tuesday, teams without a confirmed 2013 driver line-up are revealing who will be behind the wheel for them this week in Spain.
Catherham Racing have yet to confirm either of their drivers for the 2013 GP2 Series season, and surprised everyone on Monday morning by announcing that Chinese driver Ma Qing Hua and Spain's Sergio Canamasas will be running for them this week in Jerez.
Ma was the reserve driver for the now-defunct HRT F1 team last season and picked up three Friday practice session outings during the course of the year, becoming the first Chinese driver to participate in a F1 Grand Prix weekend.
"This will be my first time in a GP2 car and it is a great opportunity for me to learn the car and work with such a professional team," said the 25-year-old from Shanghai, who added that he was looking forward to the opportunity to work with Caterham at Jerez.
He'll be joined in the test session by Sergio Canamasas, the Spanish driver who moved up from Formula Renault 3.5 Series to compete in half of the 2012 GP2 Series season with Venezuela GP Lazarus from Germany through to the season finale in Singapore.
"I am very happy to test with Caterham Racing in Jerez and I am looking forward to it," said the 24-year-old, who tested with the Trident, Lotus GP and iSport teams in the post-season tests at the end of last year.
"My target will be to develop the car and to show good performance," he added. "We are going to put everything in to the test and I feel sure that the preparation I have done over the last three months will show."
Canamasas achieved some notoriety with his last GP2 race outing when he failed to serve a drive-thru penalty for a member of his Lazarus team being late off the starting grid. Apparently suffering from radio failure, Canamasas also failed to see the increasingly frantic flag signals from the pits and ended up being disqualified from the Singapore sprint race.
Caterham Racing team manager Phill Spencer considers such unfortunate occurrences to be well and truly in the past, and was looking forward to giving both men a chance to prove themselves at Jerez from tomorrow.
"We are delighted to welcome both Ma and Canamasas to our team for the first test of the 2013 GP2 season," he said. "Both drivers have lots to offer and we look forward to working with them and helping develop their skills in the GP2 car."
Caterham previously tested Lucas Foresti, Simon Trummer and Alexander Rossi in the post-season tests at the end of last year. Rossi in particular had been expected to be signed as a full-time driver at Caterham in 2013, but the team press release made it clear that no decisions had yet been made and that they "will announce their GP2 Championship driver line-up in due course."
"I am very happy to test with Caterham Racing in Jerez and I am looking forward to it. My target will be to develop the car and to show good performance. We are going to put everything in to the test and I feel sure that the preparation I have done over the last three months will show."
Meanwhile, the Venezuela GP Lazarus team - which had had already confirmed that Austrian driver Rene Binder would be with them for the forthcoming season - announced on Sunday that Binder will be joined at Jerez this week by Kevin Giovesi, the reigning European F3 Open Copa Class champion.
Giovesi's selection is no surprise, as the 19-year-old Italian turned out for the squad on all four days of post-season testing at the end of 2012. Three of those days were alongside Binder, but the team also elected to give a one-day outing to Polish driver Kevin Mirocha, who has previously run a partial GP2 season in 2011 with Ocean Racing Technology and who has recently been linked with a seat at Hilmer Motorsport by European media reports.
Hilmer was the final team to announce its test line-up. The GP2 Series official twitter feed reported on Monday afternoon that the newest team in the GP2 line-up would be fielding Norway's Pal Varhaug and French driver Tom Dillmann for its first track session this week.
Varhaug competed for DAMS in the 2011 GP2 season alongside Romain Grosjean before switching to Auto GP World Series last year. Tom Dillmann started 2012 in GP2 with Rapax, before funding problems saw him replaced by Daniël de Jong.
The iSport team announced on Friday that they would not be attending the Jerez test at all, and were looking to sell their GP2 assets and quit the series with immediate effect over a funding shortfall.
After this week's test at Jerez, there is a second three-day pre-season track opportunity for the GP2 field at the Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona next week before the team's equipment is crated up and freighted to Malaysia for the season opener at the Sepang International Circuit on March 24.
Full Jerez test line-up
DAMS - Marcus Ericsson, Stéphane Richelmi
Lotus GP - James Calado, Daniel Abt
Arden - Johnny Cecotto Jr., Mitch Evans
Racing Engineering - Fabio Leimer, Julian Leal
Carlin - Felipe Nasr, Jolyon Palmer
Caterham Racing - Ma Qing Hua *, Sergio Canamasas *
Barwa Addx - Jake Rosenzweig, Rio Haryanto
Rapax - Stefano Coletti, Simon Trummer
Trident Racing - Robin Frijns *, Nathanael Berthon *
Venezuela GP Lazarus - Rene Binder, Kevin Giovesi *
MP Motorsport - Daniël de Jong, Adrian Quaife-Hobbs
Hilmer Motorport - Pal Varhaug *, Tom Dillmann *
iSport- Not attending
* denotes currently only confirmed for Jerez test