ART Grand Prix has completed the driver line-up it will charge with defending its GP3 Series title in 2016 with the signing of Charles Leclerc.
The Monegasque driver made his car racing debut in 2015 driving for Van Amersfoot Racing in the European Formula 3 Championship, the 18 year-old proceeding to turn heads by winning on his maiden race weekend.
The first of four wins that would take him to fourth in the overall standings, the teenager – who is managed by Nicholas Todt – will move into GP3 this year with the crack ART squad as one of four drivers to defend Esteban Ocon's 2015 title.
“I am delighted to be joining the great ART Grand Prix family after my karting seasons in 2012 and 2013,” he said. “GP3 is a very competitive series and I am onboard with the best team since the championship started. The tests late last year in Abu Dhabi went very well and I felt very comfortable in the team right from the start.
“The atmosphere here is good and everyone is working with just 1 goal in mind, victory. I'm excited about the new car they have prepared for this season and for the start of the championship. My objective is clearly to fight for the title.”
“ART Grand Prix is facing one of the biggest challenges in the company's history: keeping the titles we won last season in both GP2 and GP3 in the team and driver categories,” said team manager Sebastien Philippe. “In GP3, Charles ideally complements our driver line up. His is a natural, his pure speed and racing intelligence are rare qualities in a driver of his age. We are very confident that Charles will flourish in ART Grand Prix and will quickly join in the fight for victories with the front runners.”
Leclerc will be joined in the team by McLaren protégé Nyck de Vries, former F3 rival Alexander Albon and Japanese youngster Nirei Fukuzumi