DAMS have announced that Romain Grosjean and Pal Varhaug will race for the team in the 2011 GP2 Asia and Main Series.
Following a brief stint as a Formula 1 driver with Renault in the latter part of 2009, Frenchman Grosjean joined DAMS for his return to GP2 during the 2010 season. At the same time he joined the Gravity Sport Management program, who are linked to the Renault F1 Team through owner Genii Capital. Gravity manager Eric Boullier is also the Team Principal at Renault, and was previously DAMS boss. Boullier has recently been quoted as saying that he is working on placing Grosjean in a reserve driver role at Renault.
22-year-old Grosjean is pleased to be continuing with DAMS for a full season as he seeks a return to Formula 1. “It's a big challenge that DAMS and I are taking up in 2011,” he said. “In just a few races last year the team welcomed me with open arms, and I soon understood that we were linked by a common objective – to make it to the top. I'm counting down the hours to our first test together, knowing the strength of my relationship with each of the team members from both a human and professional point of view. I've got no doubts about the level of performance of the cars prepared by DAMS, and I know we'll get the best out of them. We'll all chase the title together.”
Grosjean will be partnered by 19-year-old Varhaug. The Norwegian took part in the inaugural GP2 Series season last year. He is pleased to be joining DAMS for his rookie season in GP2. “Joining DAMS is a dream come true for me as I know I'm driving for one of the best teams in GP2,” said Varhaug. “Here I am just a step away from Formula 1 and getting even closer to fulfilling my main objective – to become the first Norwegian to reach the summit of motor racing.”
Varhaug stated that he was looking forward to learning from a driver with a record like Grosjean's, insisting that 2011 would be a learning year for him. “I couldn't have a better teammate than Romain, who's one of the quickest drivers in the world. I'm sure I'll make progress at his side. This will be a learning year for me, and I hope I'll be able to fight for victory in 2012.”
General Manager Loic David explained the decision to sign the pair. “Romain's talent and technical input need no further proof,” he said. “Pal convinced us that he's a promising driver in the making during the GP2 tests at the end of 2010 in Abu Dhabi. Normally, a debutant is around 1.5 seconds slower than the quickest on the first day, and he was only one second behind an experienced driver. Our team can't wait to start racing again with a couple of drivers whose talent will enable us to aim for the ultimate prize in the GP2 Series.”
CEO Jean-Paul Driot added that the team was optimistic about its chances for the coming season. “With new drivers and the change to Pirelli tyres and the adoption of a new gearbox, the 2011 GP2 Series looks very exciting from both a sporting and technical point of view,” explained Driot. “We're waiting to see how things will unfold. Uncertainty reigns but one thing doesn't change the high level of competition in the Series since its creation. We're hoping to be among the front-runners in 2011. Romain Grosjean's experience combined with the talent of young Pal Varhaug has given our title ambitions a serious boost.”