22-year-old Brazilian Luiz Razia made his F1 debut in FP1 today, driving the second Team Lotus entry in place of Jarno Trulli. So who is the lad, where did he come from, and where on earth is he going?
Born in the Brazilian state of Bahia in April of 1989, Razia is about to enter his third season racing in F1 feeder series GP2, driving for Lotus boss Tony Fernandes’ Team Air Asia. His current record reads 38 starts, one win and three second places with a best championship finish of eighth last season. Not too shabby, but not eye catching either. He does have money behind him though, which does tend to grab the attention.
Razia got his first taste of GP2 machinery in the off-season Asia Series, competing for Christian Horner’s Arden team. By mid-way through the campaign he was scoring points, and at the final round in Baharin – in front of the watching F1 team bosses – he registered his maiden win after starting from pole in the reverse grid sprint race.
He made his main series debut in 2009, driving for Giancarlo Fisichella’s Coloni-run Fisichella Motor Sport outfit. Results weren’t good, with Razia travelling to the penultimate race in Italy pointless. However the Monza event would prove profitable, with another win from a reverse grid pole.
He remained in the F1 feeder series for 2010, joining veteran Pastor Maldonado at the Rapax team. Razia was nowhere near Pastor, who spent the season winning races for fun, but did put together a solid run early on. Over the first three rounds he scored points in all six races, including second places in the Spanish and Turkish sprint events.
However this is where the wheels came off, with zero points scored in the next six rounds. He ended the season well enough, taking seventh in the Abu Dhabi feature race and then second in the sprint, but overall it was a disappointing season, with Maldonado by 87 points to 28.
And there’s a clear theme to Razia’s GP2 results: the impressive finishes have all come in reverse grid sprint races. It’s proof that the lad has pace if you stick him out front, which is something to build on, but thus far this been little proof that he can fight his way through a pack.
Prior to GP2 Razia raced in South American Formula Three, taking the title in 2006, before switching to Europe and running in Euroseries 3000. He finished third in his maiden year but slipped to fourth the following season, contesting both campaigns with Fisichella Motor Sport. He was also a reserve at Virgin Racing last season but didn’t run free practice for the team.
This season he joins fellow Lotus reserve Davide Valsecchi (who we said hello to last weekend) at Fernandes’ GP2 squad and in this, his third campaign, needs to start stringing together some strong results. Valsecchi is no slouch, but also no megastar, so beating him will be the minimum requirement. That said Razia has got the cash to keep plugging away at F1 for a good few years yet, regardless of results.