“Leal to test with Caterham too”

Julián Leal. © GP2Media Services.
Julián Leal. © GP2Media Services.

GP2 Series racer Julián Leal is to make his Formula One test début next week with the Caterham team.

Leal will share the CT05 machine over the two day test with the already confirmed Will Stevens and Rio Haryanto, although it has not yet been revealed how the sessions will be split amongst the drivers.

Following several seasons competing at the GP2 / Formula Renault 3.5 / Formula 3000 level {note 1}, the Colombian has certainly turned on the form this year and lies 5th in the current GP2 campaign, having secured two podiums and several points finishes.

Understandably, Leal was delighted with the news. “I am very excited about my first Formula 1 test and […] I’m having a good weekend at Silverstone already and am now fifth in the GP2 Championship after a strong race on Saturday.”
With the test taking place at the same venue, Leal understands that he will take fresh track knowledge to the test; however the 24-year-old is also aware that he faces a sizeable step-up. “As I’m racing on the same circuit this weekend as I’ll test on next week that’s obviously a benefit but there is clearly a big step up to F1 from GP2, particularly in terms of the infrastructure I will be working with on track.”

He continued: “With that in mind my main goal is to learn as much as I possibly can and help the team work through the program they set – I know I will be given all the help and advice I need, now I just want to get started.”

New Caterham F1 CEO, Christian Albers added: “[Leal] is an exciting young talent, showing this year in GP2 just what he is capable of, and the natural next step for him is F1. We have been able to help him make that progression at the Silverstone test and now it is up to him to make the most of it. We will give him all the guidance he will need and I am sure he will do a great job.”

The test runs on July 8th-9th.

{note 1}
Leal certainly comes with experience. Incredibly his racing career began in 2006 in Formula Renault 2.0 Panam GP Series, but jumped straight into Euroseries Formula 3000 a year later. Since then, he beat Nicolas Prost and Fabio Onidi to the Italian F3000 title {note 2}, but was mostly a midfield runner in the European category.
Following F3000, Leal moved over to Formula Renault 3.5 in 2009 and a year later competed in FR3.5 and Auto GP. In 2011, Leal moved to the GP2 Series with Rapax and has since raced in that category with Trident, Racing Engineering and now with Carlin.

{note 2}
Oh goody, Italian F3000 is fun {note 3}. Technically, there was and there wasn’t an Italian F3000 Series at the time. The Italian F3000 Series was actually a sub-division of Euroseries 3000, whereby four of the eight rounds in Euroseries 3000 were a series in there own right.
In 2008, the rounds at Vellelunga, Circuit de Valencia (Riccardo Tormo), Mugello and Misano all counted toward the Italian F3000 sub-division. Interestingly, Valencia was included in Italian F3000, but the Euroseries finale at Magione wasn’t. In this instance, Leal took the Italian portion of the series, but was a distant 6th over the course of the entire Euroseries F3000 championship.
This type of arrangement isn’t totally unusual and is most widely used throughout the European Rally Championship, where each round also forms part of each national championship.

{note 3}
And again… Italian F3000 – and the whole second-rate F3000 class as a whole – has an intriguing history, dominated by take-overs, sales and name changes. Beginning in 1999, the series began as a genuine championship, utilising Lola T96/50 chassis and Zytek engines, with former racer Giorgio Vinella taking the title.
Two years later, it became the Euro Formula 3000, before reverting back to Italian F3000 again in 2005. A year later, the Euroseries 3000 was formed and that lasted for four seasons, before being taken over again in 2010 and renamed Auto GP. Two years later, it became the Auto GP World Series.

Notable contestants include Felipe Massa, Romain Grosjean, Romain Dumas, Marco Bonanomi, Vitaly Petrov, Adrien Tambay, Nico Prost, Luca Filippi, Sergey Sirotkin, Luiz Razia, Gimmi Bruni, Nicky Pastorelli, Davide Rigon, Warren Hughes, Giacomo Ricci and Ricardo Sperafico.

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