Carlin have announced that Mikhail Aleshin and Max Chilton will race for the team in 2011 – the team's first year on the GP2 grid.
The pair, who will drive in both the Asia and Main series this year, have both raced for the British team before in other series. Aleshin arrives in GP2 having won the Formula Renault 3.5 Series for Carlin in 2010. This will be the Russian's second attempt at cracking GP2, having raced at two rounds of the 2007 season when he was backed by Red Bull.
“First of all it is an amazing feeling to be with a great team again, especially after what we achieved together last year,” said the 23-year-old. “I am very pleased that I have this chance to drive with Carlin one more time and I’d like to thank them for this opportunity. I know how important this year is for the team with it being their first season in GP2 and I am determined to give 100 per cent for them.”
Aleshin added that the introduction of a new GP2 car and other changes means that he will be able to compete this year despite being a relative newcomer to the series. “The GP2 car has changed quite a bit – which is very important for me as a driver,” he said. “There have been changes made which will make it a slightly more level playing field in my first season in the series. Also, the car this year will be even closer to an F1 car – in terms of power, aerodynamics and tyres, and this was one of the main reasons that I chose to race in GP2 this season.”
Chilton previously raced for Carlin in British Formula Three in 2009, before racing in GP2 in 2010 with Ocean Racing Technology. The 19-year-old from Reigate scored points in both of the races at Monza, before driving for Carlin at the shakedown test of the new-for-2011 GP2 car at the end of last year. His father Grahame, a successful businessman and motorsport fan, purchased the Carlin team through his Capsicum Motorsport firm at the end of 2009.
“I’m really happy to be back with Carlin,” said Chilton. “I have a lot of good memories from my time with the team in 2009 and it feels very right to be with them in GP2. I learnt a lot in my rookie season and I feel like I’m really going to be able to make the most of those lessons now with Carlin. There’s a really good team of people here and I feel very confident that we have a package that will enable me to challenge for podiums this season.”
Team boss Trevor Carlin added that he was pleased with the driver lineup for the team's maiden GP2 programme. “A huge amount of work has already gone into our GP2 programme and I’m extremely happy with the progress we’ve made so far,” he commented. “I’m delighted to have both Mikhail and Max with us in our first season of GP2. We have a very close working relationship with Mikhail who won the Formula Renault 3.5 Series with us last year. He is a very mature driver with a lot of experience who we expect to be a great asset to the team this season. Max had a fantastic season in F3 with us in 2009 and it’s great to have him back racing with us this year. His experience in GP2 last year will prove invaluable to the team in 2011.”