“GP3 grid begins to fill up, as Eriksson, Fumanelli and Zonzini sign on”

© GP3 Media Services.
© GP3 Media Services.

Experienced Formula Three racers Jimmy Eriksson and David Fumanelli have signed on for full campaigns in this year’s GP3 Series.

Eriksson has joined Status Grand Prix following his championship season in the ATS Formula Three Cup, beating the likes of Lucas Auer, Tom Blomqvist and René Binder.

This marks a key step for the 21-year-old Swede, who over the years has undoubtedly been quick, but also prone to error.

In Status Grand Prix, Eriksson will enjoy a stable environment with experienced staff who know how to deliver a race winning package {note 1}. Thus far, the Swede is the only driver announced by the Irish squad, but with another three-and-a-half months to go before the opening round, there is still plenty of time.
With a new car and engine package set to go this year, Eriksson is understandably excited ahead of a season that may see the competitive order alter in the series.
“Engine output for GP3 this year will increase from 280 to 400bhp, and the move away from turbo’s will necessitate a brand-new driving style – and that can only be a positive for any rookie,” said Eriksson. “Still, I obviously have a lot to learn, and the competition will be absolutely fierce; but who said it should be easy? I’m extremely motivated to get going!”

Now with Trident Racing, Fumanelli is already something of a veteran of the GP3 Series, having débuted with MW Arden in 2012. The Italian scored a single podium on his way to 11th in the points standings, just shy of Marlon Stöckinger and Kevin Ceccon.
Stung by inconsistent performances, Fumanelli will need to step up should he wish to progress up the order – but this is a junior formula, stepping up is what is supposed to happen.

In these difficult economic times, pulling a budget together has not been the easiest of tasks, something that Fumanelli knows full well. “It hasn’t been an easy winter because I struggled to put the strings together for a 2013 programme. I’ve been very impressed by the facilities and met highly motivated staff. In addition to that, the investment made in terms of developing the new car has been huge.”
The Italian added, “I already started to work on the simulator, luckily I live very close to the team’s base and I’m sure that we’ll be performing great this season. I want to be a contender in all races and reap the benefits at the end of the season in order to be at the front end of the results.”
Fumanelli has enjoyed three campaigns in European F3 Open with RP Motorsport from 2009, assuming 2nd and 3rd overall in 2011 and 2010 respectively.

He will be partnering Formula Abarth Europe graduate {note 2} and San Marino native Emanuele Zonzini at Trident; however a driver for the team’s third seat is still to be announced. For Zonzini, the move up to the bigger cars and the Grand Prix support slot may prove to be a big leap, but the 18-year-old is convinced he is ready. “2013 is going to be the most important in my entire career. I will be on-track in a very demanding championship, and I will face some very talented drivers with previous GP3 experience. I’ll need to familiarise myself fast with the category’s environment, the car, the tracks and I hope to have a great season with Trident in terms of my professional growth and results”.

Meanwhile, the remaining seats at MW Arden alongside Robert Visoiu have been filled by Red Bull junior development driver Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz Jr.
Kvyat enjoyed a relatively successful 2012, with the Russian charging to the title in Formula Renault ALPS, while also taking runner-up spot in the Eurocup Formula Renault Series.
For his part, Sainz Jr showed some very strong drives amidst pools of inconsistency in Formula 3 last year; however when the toughest conditions emerged, Sainz Jr often drew to the top of the order. Should he strike a good balance in regular condition – and improve his qualifying form, he could very well be a challenger.

That the GP3 Series enters the 2013 season with a new car and significantly altered engine package may shuffle the playing field somewhat, ensuring the best prepared will become quickly apparent.
With testing kicking off at Estoril in a few short weeks, watch out for a flurry of driver announcements soon.

{note 1}
Of the twelve teams that have competed in the GP3 Series since its inception in 2010, Status Grand Prix are only one of four teams who have won races in every season thus far; the others being Lotus (Art Grand Prix), Jenzer Motorsport and Marussia Manor. Newly entered Koiranen Motorsport bring the number of teams since inception up to thirteen.

{note 2}
Zonzini finished in the top five in Formula Abarth Europe last year losing out on 4th spot in the final race to Santiago Urrutia. Although Zonzini only picked up a single victory (in the 6th round sprint race at Imola), the Sammarinese pilot drove a competitive campaign, finishing another thirteen races in the top four.

2013 GP3 Series Grid (as of January 27th)
Lotus GP       – Jack Harvey; two seats remaining.
MW Arden       – Carlos Sainz Jr, Daniil Kvyat, Robert Visoiu.
Carlin         – Eric Lichtenstein; two seats remaining.
Jenzer         – Samin Gomez Briceno; two seats remaining.
Marussia Manor – no confirmed drivers.
Status GP      – Jimmy Eriksson; two seats remaining.
Atech CRS      – no confirmed drivers.
Trident        – David Fumanelli, Emanuele Zonzini; one seat remaining.
Koiranen       – no confirmed drivers.

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