New Zealand’s Brendon Hartley will race with Coloni Motorsport in the last two rounds of the GP2 series; starting with the two races at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza in Italy this weekend, and followed by the final round in Abu Dhabi on November 13-14
“It is a fantastic opportunity and I’m looking forward to a new challenge,” said Hartley, who has not raced since the 3.5 World Series Renault round in Hungary in early July.
“I have been preparing myself for this opportunity since my release from the Red Bull Junior team and I am ready to fight for my future. With a lot of assistance from Peter ‘PJ’ Johnston and Barrie Thomlinson; I have secured a drive in the strongest Formula 1 feeder category.
“There’s been a lot going on behind the scenes during the last few weeks. We’ve all been very busy so we have chosen to keep a low media profile while looking at my options for the future.
“There are a number of potential opportunities for me so I will be pushing hard to show well this weekend. I’m determined to prove that I am ready to progress towards my goal of racing in Formula 1."
The two race deal for the 20-year-old from Palmerston North to race with the experienced Coloni team was announced in Italy on Wednesday night (08.00 Thursday morning NZ time). Hartley’s faithful personal sponsor L.J. Hooker is being joined by new sponsors Amazing Thailand, Spy Wine Cooler and Siam Winery.
Hartley is now in Italy working with the Coloni team’s engineers and has been on the team’s simulator; learning the racing lines for the high speed Monza circuit and getting to understand the set up of the GP2 single seater.
Scuderia Coloni are based at Perugia in Italy. Paolo Coloni’s team has been associated with many top drivers during their years of competing in motorsport in various top line categories, including Formula 1.
Making the announcement in Italy Paolo Coloni described Hartley as “a highly esteemed and talented driver, who was selected by Red Bull Racing to be their test driver.”
“This recognition is something very rewarding for the team. We face a really big task at Monza as Brendon has never driven a GP2 car, but he has great experience in high-powered cars and the team will support him in the best possible way.
“We are confident that working together we will be able to find the right pace in the little time available”.
At the most recent GP2 round at Spa, Coloni introduced 25-year-old Portuguese driver Alvaro Parente into the team. Parente, a previous GP2 race winner, has two seasons of experience in the category and showed the Coloni team’s potential by finishing on the podium in both Belgian races.
“Alvaro will be my teammate at Monza which is a big bonus and will help me measure my performance as I progress through my first weekend at the wheel of a GP2 car,” said Hartley.
“I’m very excited to be with Scuderia Coloni: they have been in the championship right from the start in 2005 and they have a great history and a lot of experience. So, I’m confident that I can learn a lot and make the most of the little time I have.
“Obviously I have to keep in mind that I have never driven the car before and I’m competing against drivers that have contested the whole championship.
“Matching their performance won’t be easy, I have managed to do a good job with the Coloni simulator and I’m confident that working with the team we will be able to improve steadily,” said Hartley.
This one-make FIA backed series races with an Italian-built Dallara chassis powered by a 4.0-litre Renault V8 engine that produces 612bhp at 10,000rpm.There is a top class entry of 24 cars at Monza and included in the field are many of Hartley’s old rivals from Formula 3 in Britain and Europe.
The GP2 format for the Monza Grand Prix weekend will give Hartley just 90 minutes of practice on Friday, followed later in the day by the 30 minute official qualifying session..
Race 1 is on Saturday and during the 75 minutes (32 laps) cars must pit to change two tyres. The Sunday sprint race has no pit stop and a duration of 45 minutes (21 laps).
“The GP2 low downforce aero set up for Monza means my first GP2 race will be on the fastest circuit of the championship with top speeds approaching 330kph on the 5.79 km Milan track.
The race at Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates is on the all-new 5.54km Yas Marina Circuit. “It’ll be a new circuit for many of the current drivers so that’s good for a GP2 Rookie,” said Hartley.