Formula Renault 3.5 championship leader Oliver Rowland made a spectacular GP2 series début with MP Motorsport at Silverstone. The British driver was drafted into the team when Spaniard Sergio Canamasas and MP Motorsport parted ways ahead of the Austrian race weekend and put on a spectacular show for his home fans with two top 10 finishes.
The Racing Steps Foundation backed driver was partnered alongside Daniël De Jong in the Anglo-Dutch team for the fifth round of the GP2 series. Over the course of the weekend, Rowland managed to out shine his experienced teammate in practice, qualifying and both races even with a penalty at the end of the feature race on Saturday for leaving the circuit at Turn 9 several times throughout the race.
Rowland qualified with the ninth quickest time but the FR3.5 driver was just 0.588s shy of the quickest time set by Sergey Sirotkin.
Saturday’s race was strong for the Brit as he ended the twenty nine lap race in ninth position ahead of Julian Leal and the boost of knowing he had excellent race pace and promise for Sunday’s sprint race.
A 5 second time penalty after the feature race meant that Rowland would have 5 seconds add to his official race time but this only saw him drop one place back meaning that at the end of the day he was tenth ahead of MP Motorsport teammate De Jong.
In the sprint race on Sunday, Rowland started on the fifth row of the grid but with a brilliant launch from the line was able to find his pace straight away and battled his way into a deserved seventh place only 0.306s seconds behind the DAMS car of fellow British driver Alex Lynn.
After his impressive and competitive GP2 debut, Rowland was praised by MP Motorsport’s Tony Shaw. “We were so impressed with Oli’s performances and it was great working with him again. To come fresh into GP2 with no prior testing and deliver the results and pace he did was phenomenal but no surprise – he’s the real deal and a proper star.”