Coloni – Michael Herck & TBA
Drivers’ Titles: 0 – Teams’ Titles: 0 – Race Wins: 6
The name Coloni may be familiar to some readers, the Italian squad having run in F1 between 1987 and 1991 (though they only started 14 races from 82 attempts to qualify). They’ve subsequently contested Formula 3000 and hung around for GP2, racing under the Fisichella Motor Sport moniker between 2006 and 2009 when former F1 driver Giancarlo Fisichella invested in the team.
Never front-runners, Coloni are nevertheless a resilient bunch who always punch a little above their weight. For 2011 they’ve got Michael Herck – the second most experienced driver confirmed on this year’s grid – signed to drive. The Romanian has been around for a long while now, his father Andre having first invested in and then bought the DPR team to give his boy somewhere to race (this is actually fairly common in the lower formula).
When GP2 reassessed its teams at the end of 2010 DPR were dropped, but Michael returns this season with Coloni. Okay, he’s no Senna, but Herck topped the final pre-season test and now has the experience to at least score points on a semi-regular basis. Good luck to the lad.
No second driver is yet confirmed but double Superleague Formula champion and Ferrari Academy member Davide Rigon has run for them in testing. He’d make a lot of sense but nothing has been announced yet.
Badger Prediction: Could score points on a fairly regular basis if Herck lives up to pre-season promise. Rigon also has solid experience and pace to boot, and would make a good choice for the second seat.
Badger Fact: Coloni ran Subaru engines for the 1990 F1 season. Belgian racer Bertrand Gachot subsequently failed to qualify for all 16 races that year.
Trident – Rodolfo Gonzalez & Stefano Coletti
Drivers’ Titles: 0 – Teams’ Titles: 0 – Race Wins: 5
Italian squad Trident avoided finishing bottom of the pile by just three points last season, and little is likely to change for 2011. After an impressive first season with ex-F1 racer Gianmaria Bruni in 2006 they’ve been on a gradual downward spiral, picking up the odd win thanks to Pastor Maldonado and Indycar star Mike Conway in 2007 and 2008 respectively, but not making the podium since.
Driver-wise there’s not too much to get excited about here. Seat one is occupied by Rodolfo Gonzalez, a driver who has failed to display the talent necessary at this level thus far. He was well beaten by Charles Pic at Arden last season, picking up just 4 points all season and generally finding himself towards the back of the grid. That’s unlikely to change at Trident.
His team-mate for what is expected to be a tough season will be Stefano Coletti. Monaco-born, so you know he’s not short of a few quid, Coletti ran a three GP2 races for the beleaguered Durango team back in 2009 before contesting GP3 last season. He was decent, ending up ninth overall, and also had a good run in this winter’s GP2 Asia campaign, winning the Abu Dhabi sprint race on his way to fourth in the standings. Not too much can be expected at Trident but if, as expected, he beats Gonzalez, he’ll have had a tidy enough year.
Badger Prediction: Grid-propping anonymity awaits.
Badger Fact: Trident took a race victory at only their second GP2 event, with former F1 racer Bruni triumphing at Imola in 2006.
Ocean Racing – Johnny Cecotto Jr. & Kevin Mirocha
Drivers’ Titles: 0 – Teams’ Titles: 0 – Race Wins: 2
Ocean took the wooden spoon last season and, in all honesty, it’s hard to see them doing any better in 2011. A driver line-up of the crash-prone Johnny Cecotto Jr. and in-at-the-deep-end rookie Kevin Mirocha hardly inspires confidence of a revolution.
Cecotto is the son of former grand prix motorcycle champion and F1 racer Johnny Snr. and switches from Trident after a poor 2010 in which he scored just three points. A decent run at Monaco aside Johnny did little more than get involved in on-track scrapes last season. He’ll need to drop that, then add some pace, if he’s to push on this year.
Mirocha meanwhile has come from nowhere to join the GP2 field. The 19-year-old German ran a partial season in the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup last year, achieving decent but not outstanding results, and has also run (largely without success) in Formula 3 Euro Series and the main Formula Renault 2.0 category. The jump to GP2 is a massive ask and he’ll likely find himself on the final few rows of the grid.
Badger Prediction: Likely to be fighting Trident on the back two rows
Badger Fact: Ocean are part-owned by former Jordan and Midland driver Thiago Monteiro.
Carlin – Max Chilton & TBA
New team for 2011
British squad Carlin continue their march towards F1 by stepping up to GP2 this season. Having dominated British F3 for the last decade and recently taken title glory in Formula Renault 3.5 Trevor Carlin’s outfit will now race in the pinaccle of F1 junior categories, and you have to feel that, given a few years, they can be right at the front here too.
Driver-wise they have second year British driver max Chilton on board. Max didn’t set the world alight last season but was racing for strugglers Ocean, and so wasn’t exactly best placed to do so. With a year’s experience behind him and knowledge of all the cirucits he should be able to perform a little better
Mikhail Aleshin was signed to race the other car but funding issues seem to have sidelined the Russian, who beat Daniel Ricciardo to the Formula Renault 3.5 crown last season. Brit Oliver Turvery has taken his place in testing, and we’d be rather chuffed if he got the gig full-time. Turvey was a revealtion in GP2 last year, winning races for iSport, and his budget issues are yet more eveidence that simple, boring old talent and ability aren’t enough in this game. We’ve got wind of a deal that will take Oliver away from single-seaters this year, but hopefully he’ll get a chance at Carlin – he’s definitely quick enough.
Badger Prediction: Put Turvey in the car and plenty – including race wins – could be possible.
Badger Fact: The likes of current F1 stars Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg and Robert Kubica all drove for Carlin during their early careers.
Team Air Asia – Davide Valsecchi & Luiz Razia
New team for 2011
Just as Fernandes chose two experienced drivers to lead the Lotus F1 effort he’s hired two GP2 old hands for Air Asia’s debut campaign. Valsecchi is in fact the most experienced man confirmed for 2011 (likely Super Nova man Luca Filippi will overtake him if he gets the drive) having contested 55 races in the series. In that time he’s won two races but generally flattered to decieve. Undoubtedly quick, Valsecchi needs to display his pace consistently this season. He can’t afford another year in GP2.
Razia meanwhile has his moments but has never really stood out. Stick him on pole and he can win – no problems there – but he’s thus far failed to cut through a pack to score a strong result. There’s time for him to develop, but he too is edging towards the ‘too long in GP2’.
Badger Prediction: With experienced drivers and a wealthy owner they could win races. It all depends on which versions of Valsecchi and Razia turn up.
Badger Fact: Valsecchi won the 2009-10 GP2 Asia title, and is currently the only winner of the series not to race in F1.