Crash.Net GP2 News
Trident announces driver line-up for Sepang
20 March 2013
Trident Racing has revealed that its drivers for the first round of the 2013 GP2 Series will be Nathanaël Berthon and Kevin Ceccon.
"I would like to thank Trident and all the people who made this possible," said Berthon. "I am more than happy to be with Trident. This team is like a family, and they work really closely with the driver."
Berthon had worked with Trident in the first pre-season test session of the year at Jerez and had been seen as a leading contender for one of the two Trident seats. Ceccon is somewhat more of a surprise, however, not having run in a GP2 car since the end of 2011.
"When I realised that I was leaving for Sepang, it was a fantastic feeling," said the young Italian. "The opportunity to get back behind the wheel of a GP2 car may be unexpected, but I am so excited for this!"
Sauber F1 reserve driver Robin Frijns had been thought to be a leading contender to join the side, while Marussia F1's newly appointed test driver Rodolfo Gonzalez had also won praise for the team after battling through illness to turn out for the team in the last day of track activity in Spain, before the teams decamped to Malaysia for this weekend's season opener.
Both drivers miss out, at least for now. Notably, it appears that Trident have only confirmed Berthon and Ceccon for this initial round at Sepang International Circuit and not for the whole season. Overall, it appears from the outside that it's not the optimal circumstances surrounding their driver announcement that the team had been hoping for.
Berthon had been unable to return to the squad for the second pre-season test in Barcelona because of what the team called "a contractual glitch related to his previous career experiences," while Ceccon has been out of GP2 for almost a year and a half while he raced instead in the GP3 Series.
"I know I am not in the 'perfect' conditions since I could not complete all the pre-season tests, but, I kept on working hard in case this would happen," admitted Berthon, who completed a maiden season in GP2 in 2012 with Racing Engineering.
"I feel more than ready and I am confident for this season because I have one year experience in GP2 under my belt," he said. "But also because I feel Trident is supporting me fully and they show me that they want to work and progress with me.
"I already knew a few of them before joining the team, and after spending some days with all of them, I can honestly say they are a great group of people, with a lot of experience and knowledge and with extra motivation to win," added the 23-year-old Frenchman, who previously competed in Formula Renault 3.5.
"They are people who build a real relationship with their drivers and communicate a lot, and in only three days of testing I have learnt a lot in terms of engineering and technical parts," he added. "I think I have all the ingredients to do a successful season and fight at the top!"
Ceccon meanwhile has the experience of half a season racing with Scuderia Coloni in 2011 to fall back on. Ceccon, now 19, then took the decision to pull out of the feeder series and instead focus on his Auto GP World Series campaign, a decision that came up trumps when he won that year's championship.
He pipped compatriot Luca Filippi to the title, the man who ironically replaced him in Coloni's GP2 seat for the rest of that season. Filippi went on to finish as runner-up in both competitions that year. Ceccon meanwhile graduated to GP3 with Ocean Racing Technology in 2012, and had not been considered a leading contender for a race seat in GP2 this year until today's announcement.
Ceccon will be up against it going into this weekend's feature and sprint races. Not only does the confirmation of his race seat come less than 48 hours before the cars turn out for Friday practice, it will also be the first time he's experienced the sweltering conditions in Malaysia.
"I will also have to get familiar with the Sepang track, but in spite of these challenges I can't wait to get back in the car," he said, adding his thanks to his management team of Stefano Zuech and Tiago Monteiro for pulling together the last minute deal to race at Sepang.
"I hope to reward their trust and that of Trident Racing's in the best of ways," Ceccon added.
Trident's announcement on Tuesday leaves only Hilmer Motorsport to unveil its driver line up for the two Round 1 races.
Round 1 timetable
Practice: Friday, March 22 - 11.55am (3:55GMT)
Qualifying: Friday, March 22 - 3.55pm (7:55GMT)
Feature Race 1: Saturday, March 23, 11.15am (3:15GMT)
Sprint Race 2: Sunday March 24, 12.15pm (4:15GMT)
2013 confirmed driver line-up
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 - Sam Bird, Tom Dillmann
Caterham Racing - Ma Qing Hua, Sergio Canamasas
Barwa Addx - Jake Rosenzweig, Rio Haryanto
Rapax - Stefano Coletti, Simon Trummer
Trident Racing - Nathanaël Berthon, Kevin Ceccon
Hilmer Motorsport - TBA, TBA
Venezuela GP Lazarus - Rene Binder, Kevin Giovesi
MP Motorsport - Adrian Quaife-Hobbs, Daniël de Jong