Rising British racer Lando Norris will contest the full FIA Formula 3 European Championship season in 2017 with Carlin.
Norris, 17, was one of the most successful young drivers on the European junior racing scene in 2016, claiming both the Formula Renault NEC and Eurocup 2.0 titles as well as the Toyota Racing Series crown in New Zealand.
Norris’ primary focus through 2017 will be the FIA F3 series that has recently helped to launch the careers of Max Verstappen, Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll, all of whom will race in F1 next year.
On Thursday, Norris confirmed that he would be continuing his partnership with British racing team Carlin through 2017, setting his sights on the FIA F3 title in his first full season, having enjoyed three races in the series this year.
“I’m very excited to be joining Carlin and can’t wait to contest the FIA Formula 3 European Championship,” Norris said.
“My aim is simple and the same as at the start of every season: I want to win the championship title outright. Although it’s my ‘rookie’ F3 season, I’m totally confident with the package, the team and Volkswagen.
“The competition will be tough, it’s an ultra-competitive series, of that there is no doubt. Many of the drivers I’m up against will be in at least their second year in the category so will have a lot of F3 experience on the tracks we’ll be racing on.
“There will be a couple of circuits totally new to me but this year in Renault I learnt them quickly. If, in my first year, the outright F3 title is not within my grasp, it won’t be for the want of trying and then winning the ‘rookie’ title is an absolute must.”
Team owner Trevor Carlin added: “We are very pleased and proud that Lando and his management have chosen to stay with the team for a third season, and I’d like to thank them for the trust they’ve placed in our FIA F3 team after two very promising outings in Hockenheim and Macau.
“Lando is an incredibly exciting young driver and has already shown in his short career his talent, dedication and work ethic. We very much look forward to working with him again in 2017 and showing what we can achieve together in FIA F3.”
The two-day Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy Test concluded on Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
Combined times after the two days of running are below, with Nico Jamin (Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires) and Oliver Askew (Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires) remaining on top from Saturday to Sunday, and Darren Keane (Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda) supplanting Andres Gutierrez at the head of that field.
Previous notebooks are linked here (Friday, Saturday), with additional Sunday notes to follow.
Several drivers pulled double duty between series, namely Parker Thompson (Exclusive Autosport in Pro Mazda and USF2000), Carlos Cunha (Juncos Racing in Indy Lights and Pro Mazda) and Aaron Telitz (Team Pelfrey in Pro Mazda, RJB Motorsports in USF2000). Telitz (above) added a run in Pro Mazda in Team Pelfrey’s No. 82 car; the Wisconsinite has done a lot of the series’ testing for the new Pro Mazda Tatuus PM-18, and had hoped to run all three series. We’ll have more meanwhile on Thompson and Exclusive’s double in the days to come; the Michael Duncalfe-led team out of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan was one of three new Pro Mazda teams adding those cars to USF2000 efforts (Pabst Racing, BN Racing) this week.
There were a handful of drivers that changed cars or teams for Sunday’s second day of the test, primarily in USF2000. While Keane ran both days at Newman Wachs, the Brian Halahan-managed team ran David Osborne and Oscar DeLuzuriaga in the Nos. 37 and 38 cars, taking over from Jake Craig and Max Peichel. Osborne switched from Team Pelfrey, where he ran Saturday, and where Jacob Loomis ran Sunday. Justin Gordon ran a second Exclusive Autosport chassis, switching to the No. 90 on Sunday after running the No. 92 Saturday.
The PM-18 best lap set by Askew is more than three seconds faster than the series’ official track record (Pato O’Ward in 2016, at 1:22.8800, 105.941 mph). Askew’s best time of 1:19.8142 averages 110.010 mph around the 2.439-mile circuit. Neither the Indy Lights nor USF2000 cars eclipsed the existing lap records in those categories.
Drivers largely extolled the PM-18’s outright pace and potential with the horsepower upgrade, in what is a significant step forward for the series. “Following prototype testing of the new PM-18, I believed that we had a special race car and this weekend’s testing confirms that,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “Based on team and driver comments, this is a fantastic race car and I am very pleased with what Tatuus, Elite Engines and my team have assembled. It fits perfectly in between the USF-17 and the IL-15 in terms of lap times and, more importantly, it takes what a driver learns in the first step and introduces higher HP, higher grip and higher aero. This will be a great training car for years to come, and seeing our program now with three excellent and well-designed cars is very satisfying to me.”
Keane, one of the few veterans (relatively speaking) within USF2000 was plugged in this weekend as the only driver outside Pabst Racing to threaten the top of the timesheets. “It’s a good boost in confidence for me heading into next year. I am really happy with how everything is going with the team. They are a great group of guys and it’s just really good to see us improving and being where we want to be,” he said.
Rinus Veekay hailed the Indy Lights Dallara IL-15 Mazda this weekend in his first test there, although the talented Dutch teenager may well focus on Pro Mazda next season and shoot to win that championship, and continue his battle with Askew established in USF2000. “The car is very nice, quick,” noted VeeKay. “You can really feel the downforce and it was a pleasure to drive.”
The MRTI is done with official running for the year, but the $200,000 MRTI Scholarship Shootout remains in December at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, the former Firebird Raceway, outside Phoenix. The winner of that will get a ticket into USF2000 for the 2018 season.
Full MRTI spring training will take place at Homestead-Miami Speedway in February 2018, with undoubtedly a bevy of driver and team announcements to come over the following months.