“Carlin sign Leal for GP2 effort”

Carlin Motorsport have signed GP2 Series veteran Julián Leal for the coming season.

After a couple of tricky seasons with Rapax and Trident, the Colombian scored his first GP2 podiums in 2013 while teammate to champion Fabio Leimer, signifying a significant breakthrough for Leal.

Leal is certainly a curious proposition for Carlin. The 22-year-old has been based in and around this second tier for a number of seasons, having also competed in European and Italian Formula 3000 (2007-08) {note 1}, Formula Renault 3.5 series (2009-10), before adding Auto GP to his resume (also 2010).

Whether the 23-year-old can add to his 2013 podium successes is a very different story, but once again, the question of whether a fourth season GP2 driver can deliver what is required for Formula One is set to reveal itself again.

Meanwhile Leal is simply looking forward to the challenge. “The GP2 Series remains the championship to be in, with another fantastic calendar on the F1 support package. I want to thank my family and sponsors for their continued support in my career. Together with Carlin I think we can have a very strong season and I can’t wait to get in the car in Abu Dhabi.”

For Carlin team principal Trevor Carlin, Leal’s experience will bring much to the Farnham squad in 2014. He commented that: “[Leal] is a very experienced driver and will bring a lot to the team. We can’t wait to get back on track in March and build on the fantastic progress we made in 2013.”
It will be interesting to see if this partnership translates into results.

{note 1}
Let’s get this straight before anyone gets confused (or can’t be bothered to look). Like Formula Abarth of old, the Formula 3000 Euroseries and Italian championships were actually one and the same thing.
While the overall championship was a (not highly rated) European category, the Italian championship merely syphoned off three Italian and one Spanish round, creating an additional points table.
In 2008, Leal won the Italian Formula 3000 Series, finishing just ahead of Fabio Onidi, Nicolas Prost and Luiz Razia despite the Colombian having not won a race. In reality, Leal finished behind all of these drivers in the full season European championship, which was eventually won by Prost.

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