After a successful first season racing in the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland in Germany, Connor de Phillippi has been retained by the German manufacturer for a second season as a Porsche Junior driver.
De Phillippi spent three seasons in Star Mazda here in the U.S., but when options failed to materialize for an advancement to Indy Lights (despite his prodigious talent) for 2013, he explored the sports car route.
In his first season, de Phillippi finished ninth in the championship in a field of more than 25 drivers, and was top rookie. He posted 10 top-10 finishes in 17 races, with a best finish of fourth place in the first race at Zandvoort.
“I now know how important it is to achieve a good qualifying result if you want to do well in a Carrera Cup sprint race,” he said in a Porsche release. “Winning the rookie classification was a good start. But next year I’ll be aiming for the podium. I’m up against some tough opposition, but my dream is to climb to the very top step.”
Three others besides the 20-year-old de Phillippi in the Porsche Junior program include Klaus Bachler (22, Austria), Alex Riberas (19, Spain) and Sven Mueller (21, Germany). De Phillippi and Riberas will receive funding of 150,000 Euro – approximately $205,000 – to support another year in Germany’s one-make series.
In the past, several of Porsche Junior drivers have been provided opportunities in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the opening round of the GRAND-AM (now TUDOR Championship) season. With the entry list revealed yesterday, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see any of the four Juniors spread among the 12 Porsche GT Americas entered for the race in January.
2015 GP3 Series champion Esteban Ocon will race in the DTM championship this year with Mercedes in tandem with a reserve role in Formula 1 at Renault.
Ocon joined Mercedes’ junior program in the spring of 2015 before becoming a fully-fledged member at the end of the year just days before his GP3 title success.
The Frenchman was known to be considering a move into either DTM or GP2 for 2016, but will now replace F1-bound Pascal Wehrlein at Mercedes’ factory team for the new DTM campaign.
“It’s an incredible feeling to be part of such a professional and strong racing series,” Ocon said.
“I’m very pleased to be driving for Mercedes-Benz. It’s the best team in the DTM and I’m very grateful for this fantastic opportunity.
“Mercedes is the most successful manufacturer in DTM history. You can only achieve that with real passion and hard work, and those are characteristics that we share. After driving in free practice during the final race weekend of the 2015 season at Hockenheim, I can’t wait to start a DTM race.
“I obviously have a lot to learn, but my goal – and that of everyone in the team – is to fight for wins as soon as possible.”
Fiat-Chrysler CEO and Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne believes that Italian car manufacturer Alfa Romeo must consider entering Formula 1 with a team in the near future.
Alfa Romeo last raced as a constructor in F1 between 1979 and 1985, but has enjoyed no involvement within the series since 1988 when it supplied engines to the Osella team.
Marchionne believes that a return to F1 would be an effective way for Alfa Romeo to grow as a brand and gain more public awareness.
“In order to restore their name, they must consider returning to Formula 1,” Marchionne told Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“Alfa Romeo are capable of making their own chassis, just like they are capable of making their own engine,” he added, before conceding that it could enjoy an engine supply from Ferrari should it wish to enter F1.
Marchionne believes that adding more manufacturers to the F1 grid is key to safeguarding the long-term future of the series.
“In the end this sport must be saved,” Marchionne said.
“The important thing is to make other car manufacturers enter grand prix racing.”