It has been confirmed that Daniel Abt will switch to the GP3 Series this year, racing for the Lotus GP team with whom he had topped the timesheets in post-season testing.
The German raced in the Formula 3 Euro Series in 2011, but only finished seventh overall after a disappointing campaign. He demonstrated his superb talent at the end of the year though, when he took part in GP3 testing in Spain for double-champions ART (who have since been renamed to Lotus).
He set the pace on both days at Valencia's permanent Ricardo Tormo circuit, and was also quickest on the second day at the Circuit de Catalunya.
“I am very happy for the chance to continue my career in the GP3 Series, which was my favourite solution,” said Abt, who is the son of Hans-Jurgen Abt, who runs the Audi DTM squad, and the nephew of former DTM racer Christian Abt.
“Making this step with the Lotus GP team is like a little dream because everyone knows how professional and successful this squad is. I already felt at home during the first tests. Big thanks to my partners and sponsors who give me the chance to make this huge step.
“Now I’m looking forward to a lot of new challenges: a new car, a new team and some new race tracks. The tests were good. But more important than the times on the screen was: It was pure fun to drive the car and work with the team. I will now start to prepare as hard as possible for the next tests and the start of the season to pay back for the trust in me.”
Frederic Vasseur's team took Esteban Guttierrez to the inaugural GP3 title in 2010, and then finished 1-2 in 2011 with Valtteri Bottas and James Calado.
“Along with sporting and technical performance, the human aspect is an essential factor for success in an extremely competitive championship where there is no room for error at any level whatsoever,” said Vasseur. “Daniel combines three skills. He attracted Lotus GP with his speed, his technical baggage, and his human qualities. We have every confidence in him to help us defend our two titles.”
Abt is likely to be joined in the team by second-year GP3 driver Aaro Vainio – who is managed by team co-owner Nicolas Todt.