Barcelona driver line-up confirmed for final test
4 March 2013
With the GP2 Series teams set for their final pre-season test opportunity this week ahead of the first race of the 2013 championship in Malayasia, it's a final opportunity for those teams yet to confirm their drivers for the year to try out some of the remaining contenders for race seats.
All 13 of the teams set to compete in this year's feeder series are scheduled to take part in this week's three day test from Tuesday through to Thursday at the Circuit de Catalunya just outside Barcelona in Spain.
For the first time, the teams will be joined by new outfit Russian Time, unveiled on Monday morning as the replacement for the outgoing iSport International which has quit the series over funding concerns.
Russian Time and its new team principal Igor Mazepa wasted no time in revealing that they would be fielding two top talents at Barcelona, with Formula 2 champion Luciano Bacheta set to make his début in a GP2 car. The 22-year-old Briton from Romford also previously competed in the 2011 GP3 Series for RSC Mücke Motorsport.
Bacheta will be working alongside French driver Tom Dillmann, who caused a stir last week by topping two of the three days of the first pre-season test at Jerez while working with another of the 2013 rookie teams, Hilmer Motorsport.
That leaves Conor Daly stepping in for the first two of the three days of testing for Hilmer this week, as the American is still waiting for his 2013 GP3 deal to come together.
"This was totally unexpected," admitted Daly. "I was in England and within a day the deal was talked about by The KINC agency and I was on a plane.
"I'm very much looking forward to the experience," he added. "I know the engineers and the team have assembled some very experienced people. The weather forecast is not great but I will still learn a lot."
In the second car, Hilmer will retain the services of Norwegian driver Pal Varhaug for another week.
Sauber F1 test and reserve driver Robin Frijns will return to the Trident Racing fold again, this time joined by Venezuela's Rodolfo Gonzalez who last year competed for the Caterham Racing team.
The only driver who participated in the Jerez tests to miss out on a return flight to Spain this week so far is Nathanael Berthon.
Also returning for a second week of pre-season testing are Kevin Giovesi at Venezuela GP Lazarus and Sergio Canamasas at Caterham Racing.
Canamasas will once again be joined at Caterham by Ma Qing Hua, who has now been confirmed as the team's 2013 driver after last week's test session at Jerez. Ma was the first Chinese driver to participate in an F1 Grand Prix weekend when he turned out for HRT in three practice sessions in 2012.
The other eight drivers are only confirmed for the Barcelona test at this stage, with the teams still to make a formal announcement about who will get the race seat.
The remaining test seats will be taken by the teams' confirmed 2013 drivers, who will be eager for their last opportunity to familiarise themselves with their race equipment and teams. The next time they will head on track after this week will be for practice on Friday, March 22 at Sepang International Raceway ahead of the Malaysian rounds of this year's GP2 championship.
Full Barcelona test line-up - Tuesday
DAMS - Marcus Ericsson, Stéphane Richelmi
ART GP (formerly Lotus GP) - James Calado, Daniel Abt
Arden - Johnny Cecotto Jr., Mitch Evans
Racing Engineering - Julian Leal, Fabio Leimer
Carlin - Felipe Nasr, Jolyon Palmer
Russian Time - Luciano Bacheta *, Tom Dillmann *
Caterham Racing - Sergio Canamasas *, Ma Qing Hua
Barwa Addx - Jake Rosenzweig, Rio Haryanto
Rapax - Stefano Coletti, Simon Trummer
Trident Racing - Robin Frijns *, Rodolfo Gonzalez *
Hilmer Motorport - Conor Daly *, Pal Varhaug *,
Venezuela GP Lazarus - Rene Binder, Kevin Giovesi *
MP Motorsport - Adrian Quaife-Hobbs, Daniël de Jong
* denotes currently only confirmed for Barcelona test