The continued uncertainty over the future of Honda's Formula 1 team and Bruno Senna's possible involvement with it is stalling the GP2 Series driver market for 2009, David Sears contends – explaining that the Brazilian is firmly on the shopping list of 'anybody who has a spare seat'.
The nephew of the late, great three-time F1 World Champion Ayrton Senna was believed to have been close to a deal to make his grand prix debut with Honda this year until the Japanese manufacturer suddenly put its Brackley-based operation up for sale last month, taking the whole paddock by surprise.
Whilst the 24-year-old retains a chance of graduating to the top flight this season should a buyer be found for Honda and wish to give him his top flight bow, if that does not materialise then Sears reckons there is no shortage of teams in the feeder category keen to snap up the 2008 GP2 Vice-Champion's services – his own Super Nova outfit amongst them.
“I think if Mr Senna would make his mind up about whether he's going to F1 or staying in GP2 then it would release a lot of other drivers onto the market,” the former Formula Ford and Group C sportscar racer told Crash.net Radio
. “I would say he's obviously on our shopping list, along with [that of] anybody else who has a spare seat.
“If he doesn't come to a deal to continue with iSport, we would look at him and we would look at Luca Filippi and we'd look at Andy Zuber. We haven't signed anybody, but by next week I hope we'll have signed two.”
Sears confirmed that the squad's Asia Series drivers Javier Villa and James Jakes are both also 'absolutely' in the reckoning for the summer campaign, and whilst he acknowledged that the current economic downturn has affected various spheres of motorsport – most notably F1 – for now, he argued, GP2 has escaped the backlash relatively unscathed.
“So far I don't think it has [affected GP2],” explained the son of inaugural British Touring Car Champion – then British Saloon Car Champion – Jack Sears. “I think a lot of these countries that drivers are coming from, like Venezuela or other South American countries, are not affected in the same way as Europe at the moment or America.
“Everybody is trying to do deals, but it costs what it costs. We're hopeful that by the third week of January we might have a team sponsor, which would make things a lot easier for the next few years.”
Sears was also open about whether he believed Jonathan Palmer's new, FIA-endorsed Formula Two Championship will be complementary or in competition with GP2, suggesting that the people who matter will consider the two series' in entirely different manners.
“As Jonathan is a long-standing friend and adversary from Formula Ford and Formula 3 and Group C, I would say it's a totally different deal to GP2,” he quipped. “I don't believe that the Formula 1 teams look at it in any way in the same light – you're not allowed to develop cars in the same way or work with engineers and data and God knows what else [in Formula Two], so I wouldn't see it as a threat, no.”
The third round of six on the 2008/09 GP2 Asia Series calendar will take place at Sakhir in Bahrain on 23-24 January.
by Russell Atkins