Scuderia Coloni have announced their driver pairing for the 2012 GP2 season, with the Italian outfit confirming Stefano Coletti will race for them, and that he will be joined by Fabio Onidi. The announcement of Onidi comes as a surprise after Auto GP champion Kevin Ceccon had been expected to partner Coletti.
Monegasque driver Coletti enjoyed a strong campaign in 2011, in what was due to be his first full year in the feeder category. Racing for the un-fancied Trident Racing squad, he scored sprint race wins in Abu Dhabi, Istanbul and Hungary.
His main season came to an early end though after he was injured in a crash at the penultimate round at Spa and was forced to miss the season finale at Monza. He recovered in time to test for Coloni at Barcelona, before turning out for the team at the non-championship GP2 Final at Abu Dhabi.
Alongside Coletti at Coloni for the Abu Dhabi races and at Toro Rosso for the subsequent F1 young driver tests was Ceccon – and Coloni were known to want the 18-year-old in their lineup for 2012. He had won the Coloni-run Auto GP series as a rookie, and also stepped in to the GP2 team for four meetings earlier in the season.
However, it is fellow Italian Onidi who will join Coletti this season. He also comes from Auto GP, a series he had raced in for four years (including two years under the old name of Euroseries 3000). He finished fifth in the standings in 2011, before testing for Coloni at the Jerez test where he was found towards the top of the timesheets. He raced for Super Nova in Abu Dhabi, but now returns to Coloni for a full campaign this season.
“We are heading towards the start of the season with a promising and competitive line-up, with two drivers that impressed us by how quickly they got acquainted with the team and the car in the winter testing, immediately securing a spot among the front runners,” explained Paolo Coloni, whose team took Luca Filippi to the runner-up spot last season.
“We were following them with a great deal of attention last year already: Stefano managed to be GP2's best rookie despite his back injury in Spa, while Fabio showed with his results and consistency that he's ready for the huge leap to GP2. With such premises our expectations are obviously high, we know that we have what it takes to be successful and we aim to show that right from the start.”
22-year-old Coletti said: “I'm really happy of this agreement with Scuderia Coloni for the next GP2 season, and first of all I'd like to say thanks to Paolo and the whole Coloni family for that: we started talking immediately after the end of the 2011 Championship and they made me understand that I was an important part of their project. 2012 will be a key year in my career, so I did put a lot of thinking on this choice, as I wanted to be sure that the decision was the right one for my future.
“Right from the first test I did with Coloni I had an excellent feeling with the car, the engineers and the whole staff, they are focused and their approach to the race weekend is aggressive, something that I really like. I'm looking forward to the first testing sessions and the start of the season, as the 2012 calendar is really fascinating. I'm also happy to have Fabio Onidi racing alongside me. He's a good guy and a skilled driver, we raced against each other in karting and in some other occasions and I'm sure that with him it will be very easy to create an atmosphere of cooperation.”
Onidi, 13 months' Coletti's senior, added: “GP2 has been one of my aims in the latest seasons, so being finally part of it is a really good feeling, the first achievement of 2012 for me. Besides this, I'm really happy to do that with Scuderia Coloni. The feeling with the team was immediate, and the same was with the car, allowing us to be really quick in the Jerez testing.
“I would have liked to race with them in Abu Dhabi but in the end it wasn't possible, so now I'm really looking forward to the first commitments of the 2012 season. I'm pretty confident, but at the same time I know that for a driver the debut year in GP2 can be a tough one: that's why I'm really pushing to be ready, both working with Scuderia Coloni's simulator at their HQ and obviously at the gym with the physical preparation. I want to be in the best possible shape when the championship starts, and the next three months will be vital for that.”