In a busy weekend of signings, four drivers confirmed their participation in the 2012 Formula Renault 3.5 Series.
Kevin Korjus has announced that he will be remaining with Tech 1 Racing for the coming season.
The Estonian enjoyed a solid début year in the category, taking three victories on his way to 6th in the standings, only one year after becoming the youngest ever Renault Eurocup Champion.
At a mere 19-years-old, Korjus has already impressed bosses in Formula 1, earning a test with Renault (now Lotus) in Abu Dhabi last November.
Korjus is also the youngest driver to win a race in the Formula Renault 3.5 category and now aims to add the title to his haul of success.
As part of the Gravity Driver Development programme, the Estonian intends to maker his presence felt early on. In Tech 1, Korjus has at his disposal a top-level team that has recently delivered Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne to Formula 1.
Korjus’ successor as Renault Eurocup Champion, Robin Frijns joins Renault 3.5 category for the coming season. Frijns – who also won the final Formula BMW Series in 2010 – will partner ex-British Formula 3 racer Carlos Huertas at Fortec Motorsport.
Indeed, 2011 marked a remarkable campaign for the Dutchman, who never finished lower than 5th all season, claiming five wins along the way. Frijns will also benefit from a €500,000 scholarship fund from the series following his series victory.
Further down the order, Roly Vincini’s P1 Motorsport squad retains its pairing of Walter Grubmuller and Daniil Move – a pairing that have struggled for top form in the category.
Indeed this year will be Grubmuller’s third season in the series with P1 Motorsport, while astonishingly Move is entering his sixth year of Formula 3.5 competition.
Although an injury sustained in the fifth round at the Nurburgring in June sidelined the 23-year-old Grubmuller for three races, the Austrian appeared lacklustre for much of the year.
Move celebrated two podiums on his way to 10th in the championship in 2011, but one must be asking questions of the Russian driver’s future direction. Both competitors are still searching for their first Formula Renault 3.5 race wins.
Meanwhile, Tech 1 have also filled all four spots in their Renault Eurocup squad, with Oscar Andres Tunjo and Roman Mavlanov joining French pair Paul-Loup Chatin and Matthieu Vaxiviere.
Both Chatin and Tunjo will be looking to improve on their final championships positions – 9th and 10th respectively – while Mavlanov will be hoping to score a point at least.
Vaxiviere makes the leap from French Formula 4*, where he claimed the championship ahead of Andrea Pizzitola.
*World Rally Championship contender Sebastien Ogier competed in the final round of the 2011 French Formula 4 Championship at Paul Ricard – probably because he could.
He finished 5th in both races, but was ineligible for points.
These drivers are still young and early in their careers – Tunjo has only just turned 16 (!!) – however eyes will throw occasional glances every now and again, checking to see how the stew is coming along.
For those paying attention to the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup series, do also keep an eye on McLaren Autosport BRDC Award winner Oli Rowland and the Red Bull-backed Daniil Kyvat.
Both will be going head-to-head with double Karting World Champion Nyck de Vries. The young Dutchman was signed to the McLaren Young Driver Programme in 2010 and is currently managed by Anthony Hamilton.