Team AirAsia made their first GP2 appearance this week when they completed a shakedown of the new for 2011 GP2 car at Paul Ricard in France. Venezuelan driver Johnny Cecotto Jr completed 30 laps in the car, setting a best time of 1:15.627.
“It is a very proud day for everyone associated with Team AirAsia to see our new car complete 30 laps and for the whole day to have run so smoothly,” said Team Principal Riad Asmat. “I would like to thank Johnny for doing a very professional job today and thank everyone in the team for all their hard work in helping us reach this point today, as well as thanking Dallara, Renault, and Pirelli for helping us make our GP2 dream come true.
“This is the start of another exciting chapter for Malaysian, UK and global motorsport and we hope to inspire another generation of talent around the world to join us as we set out to achieve our goals in the 2011 GP2 season.”
Team Manager Phill Spencer said the team was pleased with the progress made during the test. “Today was a successful shakedown for us,” he said. “Obviously we had one or two of the normal teething problems but the team worked well to rectify that and minimise lost track time. We ran through a number of tests, making the most of the limited number of spares that we have at the moment and have generated some useful data from all the running we did, especially on high fuel. All in all we are very happy with today's progress.”
Chief Engineer Humphrey Corbett added: “For me it was a very good session today. The shakedown is supposed to be exactly that – a chance to shake down the car and make sure everything runs properly and that is what we have achieved today. I am also pleased with how we looked out there today.
“We are still a team that has had very limited time to put itself together and we presented ourselves very professionally indeed. I also want to thank Johnny for his work today. He did everything that was required of him and made no mistakes which is just what we needed today.”
Team AirAsia will make its race debut in the 2011 GP2 Asia Series. Establised by AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes, the team has strong links with the Lotus Racing F1 team, and will be run out of the same premises in Norfolk. Lotus have said they would like the two Team AirAsia drivers to be their reserve and test drivers in 2011.
Pictures from the shakedown can be seen at Team AirAsia's Flickr site.