Hilmer duo completes Malaysia driver line-up
21 March 2013
New GP2 Series team Hilmer Motorsports heads into its first-ever race of the championship with Conor Daly and Pal Varhaug as their drives for the 2013 season opener at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.
The names of both drivers were finally disclosed by the official event entry list, which placed Norway's Varhaug in the Hilmer #22 entry and young American racer Conor Daly in the #23.
Both drivers had earlier spilled the beans with postings on the social media network Twitter over the last three days, which had revealed that both were flying to Malaysia and would be in action in GP2 this weekend.
"I will be traveling to Malaysia in some hours. Will be awesome to start on the grid again in GP2 again," wrote Varhaug late on Monday, with his tweets after landing reporting that it was "crazy hot" in Kuala Lumpur.
"Just booked a flight to Malaysia leaving tomorrow," Daly had posted an hour earlier. "So stoked [to] get in GP2 wagon again." With only one team still with unconfirmed race seats, there was little doubt which team they would be working with. On Thursday morning, Daly added: "It looks to be more official now that I see my name on the Hilmer Motorsports #22 car! Getting prepped here on the surface of the sun."
The news was subsequently endorsed by the GP2 Series' official Twitter feed, although there was no immediate formal press release from the team itself, or any further indication about whether the two drivers were running with the team just for Malaysia, or if they had secured a longer full-season deal in the feeder series.
Daly, 21, had already joined Hilmer for two days of testing in the pre-season session at the rain-hit Circuit de Catalunya at the start of March, and even returned at short notice on the afternoon of the third day of the test to benefit from the chance of some dry track conditions. He is the son of Irish former F1 and Champ Car driver Derek Daly, and has spent the last two seasons competing in GP3 with Carlin and Lotus GP. Although he finished sixth in the 2012 GP3 championship and took a race win in Spain, he's currently best remembered for a scary incident last year at Monaco which saw his car launched through the air over the back of Dmitry Suranovich's damaged car and into the catchfence, which caused the sprint race to be red flagged.
Malaysia will be Daly's - and Hilmer Motorsport's - début in GP2 competition. The German-based team took over from Ocean Racing Technology in mid-January, after Ocean had been forced to pull out of the competition due to a lack of funds forthcoming from financial partners that included the Portuguese government.
Pal Varhaug had also worked with Hilmer in the pre-season tests at Barcelona, and he already has a full season of experience in GP2 under his belt. He is making a return to the series after a year away in the Auto GP World Series in 2012, in which he finished as the championship runner-up to Adrian Quaife-Hobbs - who is himself making the move to GP2 this season with another new squad on the grid, MP Motorsport, which replaces Scuderia Coloni on the 2013 grid.
Varhaug, 22, competed in the 2011 GP2 Series with the DAMS team putting him alongside that year's championship winning driver Romain Grosjean, who subsequently got the nod to move back up to F1 with the Lotus team on the back of his feeder series success. The Norwegian has also spent seasons competing in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 and International Formula Master, and in 2008 he clinched the Italian Formula Renault 2.0 championship with Jenzer Motorsport. He stayed with that team for a year in GP3 in 2010.
The signing of Varhaug and Daly by Hilmer Motorsport completes the full 26-driver line-up for this weekend's season opener, with under 24 hours to go before the cars head out on track for the first official practice season of 2013.
As well as Hilmer and MP Motorsport, a third new team will be on the grid at Sepang after Russian Time bought up the GP2 assets of iSport International earlier in March. That team had already completed its driver line-up for 2013 earlier this week with the announcement that Britain's Sam Bird will be racing alongside Tom Dillmann
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 Motorport - Pal Varhaug, Conor Daly
Venezuela GP Lazarus - Rene Binder, Kevin Giovesi
MP Motorsport - Adrian Quaife-Hobbs, Daniël de Jong