Prema Racing

Prema unveils 2017 GP2 livery; Nabil Jeffri joins Trident

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Prema has revealed its new-look livery ahead of the 2017 GP2 Series season, sporting a look fitting for a team represented by two Ferrari juniors.

Prema made its debut in GP2 last year, taking both titles at the first attempt as drivers Pierre Gasly and Antonio Giovinazzi diced for the drivers’ crown.

Red Bull junior Gasly came out on top, securing a move into Super Formula for 2017, while Giovinazzi has linked up with Ferrari as its new reserve in Formula 1.

Prema will field 2016 GP3 champion Charles Leclerc and fellow Ferrari junior Antonio Fuoco in GP2 this year, with the team’s new-look livery being unveiled on Thursday.

In other GP2 news, Trident has confirmed the signing of Malaysian racer Nabil Jeffri for the 2017 season.

Jeffri made his GP2 debut in 2016 with Arden, scoring two points with a best finish of seventh in Baku, and will return for his sophomore year at Trident.

“I am really honored to be the first Trident driver announced for the 2017 GP2 program,” Jeffri said.

“Having the chance to return to the series for my second season, and doing it with a Team with such a long and winning history is a dream for me. I am sure that they will support me best in 2017.”

The new GP2 season begins on April 15 in Bahrain.

Hartley happy with ‘big progression’ on first day with Toro Rosso

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With 69 laps completed (28 in free practice one and 41 in free practice two) and respectable lap times in both sessions, Brendon Hartley quickly acclimated to a modern day Formula 1 chassis in his first run with Scuderia Toro Rosso in Friday practice for the United States Grand Prix.

The Porsche factory driver has been drafted into the team following a convoluted series of musical chairs that sees Daniil Kvyat back after a two-race absence, Carlos Sainz Jr. now at Renault and Pierre Gasly racing at the Super Formula season finale in Suzuka.

Over the time in the car today, Hartley experienced changeable conditions in FP1 before a more normal FP2, and discovered the new F1 cockpit after a day learning in the garage yesterday.

“A steep learning curve today! It all went pretty smoothly and I kept the car on track without making too many mistakes, so I’m quite happy,” the New Zealander reflected at day’s end.

“I didn’t really know what to expect from today because I just had so much to learn! I think I made quite a big progression throughout the day.

“The biggest difference from what I’m used to is the high-speed grip, it’s incredible here in Formula 1…it was quite an eye-opener! Another challenge are the tires, which are also quite different to what I’m used to. On the other hand, the long-run looks quite positive and I did a good job managing the tires there – the biggest thing I need to work on now is the new tire pace, and I’ll get another crack at it tomorrow morning before qualifying.

“All in all, I’d say it’s all coming together. We’ll now work hard and go through plenty of data tonight and hopefully I’ll make another step forward tomorrow.”

His best lap was 1.1 seconds up on Friday driver Sean Gelael, the Indonesian Formula 2 driver, in FP1 (1:39.267 to 1:40.406, good enough for 14th) and 1.1 seconds off the returning Kvyat in FP2 (1:37.987 to 1:36.761, good enough for 17th). Interestingly, the Gelael/Hartley combination in FP1 marked the second time in three races that Toro Rosso had a pair of drivers in its cars without a single Grand Prix start between them – Gasly’s debut at Malaysia was the other, when he and Gelael were in in FP1.

Coming into Friday’s running, Hartley said he was more ready for this opportunity now than he had been as a teenager. He admitted he’d called Red Bull’s Helmut Marko in the wake of Porsche’s LMP1 withdrawal news earlier this year to say he was game for any chance that might come.

“I’m a lot stronger than I was back then, basically. I wasn’t ready at 18 years old. I like to think I’m ready now,” he said.

“I haven’t driven a single-seater since 2012, but I like to think that Porsche LMP1 has hopefully prepared me well.”

As for the rest of his weekend, it’s been made more complicated by Hartley being assessed a 25-spot grid penalty, even though Hartley had done nothing to accrue the penalties.

The roundabout sequence of driver changes at Toro Rosso saw Gasly replace Kvyat, Kvyat replace Sainz, and now Hartley replace Gasly, as is outlined by NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton below.