The off-season for German driver Marvin Kirchhöfer was a series of highs and lows. The 2013 German Formula 3 champion initially signed for the new Russian Time GP3 team, but that contract was nullified when the team boss of Russian Time, Igor Mazepa passed away. Luckily for Kirchhöfer, he has landed on his feet, and has signed to race for the ART Grand Prix team for the 2014 GP3 season, the team that has won every GP3 Teams’ title since the series’ inception.
“I started last year to look for the right team and ART was one of my favourites!” said Kirchhofer to The Checkered Flag. “Unfortunately, we didn’t had the money at this time to do the GP3 test at Abu Dhabi so we started to search for another solution. After I got the message in the mid of February, that Russian Time will not compete in GP3, I had to change to whole plan. The first team I called was ART Grand Prix because I know that they are one of the best teams in GP3 and I was really happy when I got the 3rd seat confirmed from them!
“It’s a big big pleasure for me to get this opportunity! When I met the guy’s for the first time, I felt really well in the team. Now I’m looking forward to the first test with them!”
Kirchhöfer also admitted that the collapse of the deal he had signed with Russian Time was initially demoralising, and he feared that he would miss out on GP3 in 2014.
“At the beginning [it was demoralising] quite a lot, because everything was organized with them. I was also in a really good relationship with the guy’s over there!”
Pre-season testing begins on the 27th March at the former F1 venue of Estoril in Portugal, and Kirchhöfer cannot wait to get started. He tested for MW Arden and Russian Time in Abu Dhabi last November, but it will be his first time with ART Grand Prix. He is keeping his feet on the ground and is not making predictions for the season.
“When I drove the GP3 car for the first time, it was quite cool because it’s a big step power wise for me! I got used really fast to the car so I hope that I can improve myself with the car fast in the following test.
“I hope that I will put a good testing performance and after that I will set my targets realistic. It’s difficult to set any targets if you start as a rookie in a new championship.”
2014 will be only the German drivers third season in single seater racing, and he comes into GP3 having dominated the 2013 German Formula 3 championship. He finished 172 points head of Russian driver Artem Markelov, who has graduated to the GP2 series, and 177 points ahead of Emil Bernstorff who is also in GP3 with Carlin in 2014.
“Last year was my second year in single seater racing. It was an almost perfect season for me! I think one of the biggest highlights was racing in Spa and racing in the frame of the 24hours of Nürburgring with almost 300.000 visitors.
“I improved myself a lot in 2013 so I hope that I can continue like this and do good job with my team in 2014! I know that it will be much more difficult but I just try to give my best and have fun!”
He also feels he is developing well as a driver, and he will be gunning for his third consecutive championship, having won German F3 in 2013 and the ADAC Formel Masters title in 2012. He knows in GP3 he will have continue that learning.
“For sure it is a big learning process. Last year was really helpful and important for me because the F3 car is a good racing car to get used to the work in single seater racing.”
It will be interesting to see if Kirchhöfer can make it three titles in three years, and ART Grand Prix will be hoping for five Teams’ Championships in a row. Kirchhöfer will have Alex Fontana and Dino Zamparelli as team-mates for 2014, and is looking forward to working with them through the season to help the team move forward.
“I met both last week in a meeting of ART Grand Prix!” he said of his new team-mates. “Both are fast and have a lot of experience! I think this can help me a lot in the upcoming tests! I like them both; it was nice to talk with them. They are realistic and calm and I like that!