DAMS have confirmed their driver lineup for the 2011 Auto GP season, with Adrien Tambay, Sergei Afanasiev and Rio Haryanto signed by the French team which won both the drivers' and teams' titles in 2010.
Frenchman Tambay joins the team for his second season in Auto GP. In his rookie year in 2010 he took one victory, racing for Charouz-Gravity Racing. The son of former Formula 1 driver Patrick, Tambay also won a race in GP3 last season.
“I’m really happy to be joining DAMS in Auto GP this year,” said Tambay. “It’s one of the great teams that has won in all the championships in which it has raced, and that includes Auto GP. I hope to be able to build on the basis of my experience last year so that we have a really good season together. The test in Barcelona went off pretty well, and with hard work and all-out involvement we can achieve our objectives.”
Russian racer Afanasiev joins the series after one year in the FIA Formula Two Championship, where he finished third in the standings. Previous to this he was runner-up in International Formula Master in 2009. Afanasiev feels racing with DAMS in Auto GP will help him to follow fellow Russian Vitaly Petrov in racing in Formula 1.
“Joining the DAMS team is a privilege,” said Afanasiev. “It dominated the championship last year and it’ll provide us with an excellent car. I know that I can progress thanks to the team and the series, which is an important step towards my objective – to join my fellow-countryman in Formula 1. We can do it together.”
Haryanto will couple his Auto GP programme with a second season racing in the GP3 Series for the Manor team. Last year the Indonesian driver took one race win and finished fifth in the final standings, being rewarded at the end of the season with a test in a Virgin Racing Formula 1 car.
“It’s a great joy for me to join the DAMS team in Auto GP this year,” said Haryanto. “It’s the squad that won the series in 2010, and I’m convinced that we’ll have a competitive car from the green light. Auto GP will also help me to understand a more powerful racer and progress in my career.”
At 20 and 18 years old respectively, Tambay and Haryanto will be eligible to fight for the new Under 21 Trophy. With Afanasiev only just turning 23, DAMS will be fielding a young lineup in the 2011 season.
Series chief Enzo Coloni commented: “I’m really happy that DAMS is fielding such an international and young line-up, bringing to Auto GP three of the most striking talents in world motorsport. We expect Tambay to fight for the title, after the performances he showed in 2010, and considering that he knows the car he will be also a useful reference for his team-mates.
“I’m also happy to see Afanasiev making a step ahead from F2. For a driver it’s very important to work with a real team, building a relationship with his engineer, and I’m sure that doing this with a professional team like DAMS will give Sergei what it takes to bring his progression to the highest level.
“Haryanto impressed me a lot when I saw him racing in Formula BMW, so I’m delighted to have him in Auto GP. Driving such a complex and powerful car at his young age can be a huge advantage, as it will make the next steps of his career easier.”