Conor Daly has been confirmed for a full season of GP2, with the same Venezuela GP Lazarus squad he has tested and raced the opening round of the season with.
The 22-year-old American spent the winter determining whether another season in Europe or a full-season in North America would be his next career step after racing the last three seasons in GP3, and also dovetailing with some other part-time open-wheel opportunities.
Unfortunately for Daly, options for both a full Verizon IndyCar Series season or even a month of May program dried up, due to the nature of requiring a sizable budget for opportunities. Thus when Lazarus came calling late this year to confirm he’d be testing for them at Abu Dhabi, GP2 suddenly became an option.
This officially confirms Daly alongside Alexander Rossi as the two Americans with full-season programs in GP2.
“This has been a long winter of uncertainty for me, but I am committed on my path to Formula One,” Daly said via a team release. “GP2 is where I want to be right now, and the Lazarus team really has a great group of people. We have learned a lot so far this season and have more work to do, but I will give everything to the team to help achieve a great result.”
Added team principal Nicolo Gaglian, “We are delighted to have reached an agreement for this season with Conor Daly, a driver we have followed in recent years in GP3 and that has now thoroughly impressed when he got behind the wheel of our GP2 test in Abu Dhabi. It is a pleasure for us to be able to get on track an US driver: Conor, despite having little experience with the GP2 car, knows the circuits having raced three seasons in GP3. He’s a talented driver and we hope to reach good results together.”
Romain Grosjean felt pleased with his first simulator run in the new Haas Formula 1 car ahead of its on-track debut in Barcelona on February 22.
NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas will take his F1 operation onto the grid this season after two years of preparation, with Grosjean joining ex-Ferrari reserve Esteban Gutierrez at the team for its maiden campaign.
Ahead of the car’s first on-track run at the beginning of pre-season testing in Spain later this month, Grosjean has completed some laps in it using a simulator, and reported that the initial feedback was positive.
“The impressions were quite good, even if in the beginning it was necessary to resolve a lot of small technical problems such as turbo lag, the energy recovered under braking, etc,” Grosjean told L’Equipe.
“The morning was spent doing this. But once everything was settled we had the opportunity to run extensively in the afternoon.
“I think the car’s baseline appears to be good. We now know the simulator corresponds to the windtunnel, but the differences with what we find in reality are sometimes huge – at Lotus for example, the car changed dramatically between track and simulator.”
Haas will lift the covers off its first F1 car on Monday 22 February ahead of the initial on-track running later that day.
Valentino Rossi may extend his contract with Yamaha in MotoGP until the end of 2018 depending on how he fares in the opening stint of the coming season.
Rossi has won a motorcycle world championship on nine occasions, and came within just four points of a 10th title in 2015 when he narrowly lost out to teammate Jorge Lorenzo at the final race of the year.
Rossi, 36, heads into the final year of his Yamaha contract in 2016, and confirmed to Sky Sports Italia that he would be seeking an extension until the end of 2018 depending on how the beginning of this season goes.
“At the end of 2016 my contract will expire, so I will have to decide whether to continue for another two seasons or not,” Rossi said.
“If I continue, it will be for two seasons as all the contracts are for two years.
“It will be like 2014 when I said I will look at it after the first few races. You have to look at the first five or six races then start thinking.”
Rossi had considered walking away from MotoGP at the end of 2014 after a quiet return to Yamaha the previous year, only for his early-season form to convince him to sign a two-year extension.
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.”
Trident has completed its line-up for the 2016 GP2 Series season by signing Indonesian driver Philo Paz Armand.
Armand has previously raced in a number of European Formula Renault 2.0 championships, and most recently took part in half of last year’s Formula Renault 3.5 rounds, scoring one point.
Armand will now step up to GP2 for the 2016 season, racing alongside 2015 GP3 runner-up Luca Ghiotto at Trident.
“We are very excited to start this collaboration with Philo and we are confident he will express all his talent thanks to the team’s help,” Trident team manager Giacomo Ricci said.
The grid for GP2’s support series, GP3, is also beginning to come together for the new season following the announcements of Tatiana Calderon and Honda junior Nirei Fukuzumi.
Calderon moves into GP3 from FIA F3 and will race for Carlin, while Fukuzumi joins ART Grand Prix, continuing the French squad’s association with Honda.