Friday, April 2, 2010

GP3: Another Formula 1 Feeder Series emerges

In case you weren’t aware, this year will see the debut of the GP3 Series, another Single Seater category slated to provide aspiring racers a somewhat clearer path to Formula One, as GP3 aims to be part of the Ladder system feeding into GP2 which arguably is the last stop for Drivers prior to graduating into F1.

And great minds think alike, eh? As Ryan has just scribbled ‘bout this, while I’d also read that “Kana-duh’s” next great Formula Uno hope known as Robert Wickens has just been confirmed at Status Grand Prix for this year’s inaugural GP3 season and apparently will be piloting their No. 4 racecar. Recall that the 21yr old Torontan nicknamed the “Young Wicky,” according to ex-A1GP teammate known as ‘Hinge, a.k.a. James Hinchcliffe, was last year’s F2 runner-up behind series Champion Andy Soucek, who’s now signed on as Virgin Racing’s F1 Test/Reserve Driver after previously having tested for Williams last December during the F1 Young Drivers program.

The GP3 Series will consist of 10 Teams fielding three chassis apiece and the competitors are: ART Grand Prix, Status Grand Prix, Manor Motorsport, Mucke Motorsport, Carlin Motorsport, Addax Team, MW Arden, Jenzer Motorsport, Tech 1 Racing and Hitech Racing. These ten teams comprise of seven nations, with France having two entries, the United Kingdom three and one apiece for Australia, Germany, Ireland, Spain and Switzerland

Somewhat entertaining, the Car numbers were originally awarded Alphabetically with Addax Team granted the No’s 1-2-3 for the series first two tests before being awarded to the fastest team; ART Grand Prix when Alexander Rossi emerged quickest in the Qualifying session held at Circuit Paul Ricard.

Thus Wickens will definitely have his work cut out for him, as I’d hazard to guess that the strongest driver trio is the ART concern, with Mexican Esteban Gutierrez having the honours of carrying the Number 1 plate, with American Alexander Rossi, (No. 2) and Pedro Henrique. (No. 3)

Both Rossi and Gutierrez are former Formula BMW standouts who both took part in last year’s F1 Young Driver’s program with BMW Sauber. Ironically it was Rossi defeating Gutierrez in Mexico City for the Formula BMW World Finals in 2008.

It’s also worth noting that ART Grand Prix is owned by Nicolas Todt who manages Felipe Massa and Jules Bianchi, as well as having guided drivers Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Hulkenberg to their respective GP2 Crowns.

Another name I recognized was Italian Mirko Bortolotti who won the 2008 Italian F3 series and drove for Scuderia Toro rosso in this past winter’s F1 Young Driver’s program... As I was unaware that he’d previously been awarded a test with the Scuderia Ferrari in November, 2008, While Bortolotti with backing from Red Bull raced against Wickens in F2 last year and will now contest GP3 for the Addax Team.

And speaking of the Addax Team, interestingly, its owner is ex-Politician Alejandro Agag, a close personal business associate of Uncle Bernaughty, nee Mr. Bernard Ecclestone and “Flavour Flav.” (Flavio Briatore)

Manor Motorsport is the same concern now known as Virgin Racing in Formula 1, while MW Arden is a collaboration between F1 Driver Mark Webber and Red Bull Racing Boss Christian Horner.

The GP3 Series will contest an eight round Championship as a support event for the F1 Circus and will host its first race on May 8th at Barcelona as part of the Spanish Grand Prix weekend...