As drivers and team prepare for a long year of racing ahead, regardless of the formula, one young man has been forced to step aside at a crucial point in his career.
Reigning Formula 2 champion Dean Stoneman was sadly diagnosed with testicular cancer last week, forcing him to withdraw from the World Series by Renault Championship. However it is thought that the 20 year-old Briton may have had his illness treated early enough to allow him to recover.
Stoneman has had, up to now, a relatively successful career in the junior ranks, taking the Formula Renault UK Graduate Cup in 2008, before following that up with his Formula 2 successes last year. On his way to the crown, Stoneman took thirteen podiums from eighteen races, eventually claiming the title at the penultimate race in Valencia – in what was, admittedly, one of the worst races I have ever witnessed. With his 2010 title run secured, Stoneman secured a test with the Williams Formula 1 team at last November’s rookie test in Abu Dhabi, setting a top-five time in the process.
Stoneman was originally to partner Toro Rosso reserve driver Daniel Ricciardo at ISR Racing for the 2011 campaign, but with the Formula 2 champion now not taking part, a valuable seat with a potentially championship winning team is now vacant.
ISR Racing took several wins in their 2010 run with Argentine driver Esteban Guerrieri at the wheel, but Guerrieri is rumoured to have secured an Indy Lights drive with Sam Schmidt Motorsports, meaning the Argentine pilot is unlikely to return to the European fold.
I wish Dean Stoneman well and hope he makes a full and speedy recovery.