Two new teams will join the GP2 Series from 2011, with Carlin and Team Air Asia being named amongst the 13 teams who will compete for a three-year cycle, from 2011. All 13 teams will compete in both the main series and the Asia series for the first time.
One of the new entries is to fill the vacancy left by Durango, who withdrew at the end of the 2009 season. The other new entry replaces current squad DPR, who will leave the series at the end of this season. 11 of the current 12 teams have been reselected.
Carlin is an established and successful operation in the lower formulae, winning six British Formula Three titles since 2001, including the last three. The team entered the new GP3 Series this season, and also leads the Formula Renault 3.5 Series with driver Mikhail Aleshin. The team were purchased by Capsicum Motorsport Ltd last winter, a company established by businessman Grahame Chilton.
Team Air Asia is a new Malaysian operation set up by Tony Fernandes, team principal of Lotus Racing and founder of the Air Asia airline. They will be the first Asian team to compete in the main series. Fernandes is known to be a supporter of young Malaysian talent, having made 16-year-old Formula BMW racer Nabil Jeffri the youngest ever F1 test driver when he completed a straight-line test for Lotus earlier in September. Lotus already has a junior team running in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series.
GP2 Series director Bruno Michel has spoken about the decision to bring in Carlin and Team Air Asia. “We have known and observed Carlin for a long time. We signed them in GP3 Series and we have been very pleased not with only their results which included two podiums and one pole position, but also with the way they integrated into our working environment. To have them enter GP2 is the logical next step. As for Team Air Asia, it is a new team built on a strong relationship with a current Formula One team presided by Tony Fernandes. The seriousness of their presentation, their ambition and their worldwide project were really appealing and in line with what we expect from all our teams. We are very happy to welcome an Asian team to our paddock.”
Rupert Swallow, Managing Director of Carlin's owners Capsicum Motorsport, said: “We are delighted that GP2 have selected Carlin as entrants to the new GP2 Series, it is a testament to our commitment to junior single seater racing. We fully expect to be able to continue our excellent track record of success at Carlin and to supply a first rate product to our drivers.”
Carlin Team Principal Trevor Carlin added: “This will further strengthen our reputation as a learning ground for young drivers and completes our staircase to F1. GP2 has long been an aim for us and we’re now in the position where we have the on-track ability and financial security as part of the Capsicum Motorsport group to be able to give the series the dedication and attention that it deserves. With a new car and new tyres in 2011, this is an ideal opportunity to enter the series as a new team. We are already preparing for the first race of the GP2 Asia Series and aim to be competitive from the outset.”
The two new teams will debut in the next running of the GP2 Asia Series, which will kick-off in the new year.