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Nick Yelloly: “I’ve got unfinished business in GP2”

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Nick Yelloly admits he has ‘unfinished business’ in the GP2 Series as he continues his search for a full-time ride for the 2016 season.

The twenty-five-year-old Briton, a race winner in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series and the GP3 Series in the past, was at the Autosport International Show running demonstrations of the historic Williams FW08c, and revealed that he was also hoping for another opportunity to test for the Sahara Force India team in 2016.

“I’m actually doing a demo in the FW08C during the whole weekend apart from Sunday afternoon when Felipe Massa takes over, and also looking for drives, sponsorship money, everything,” revealed Yelloly to The Checkered Flag.

“2015 was a difficult year, one of the more testing years for me, particularly because we never knew when the next race was, but on the plus side I got to drive a Formula 1 car and that was a very successful test so it’s not all bad.”

Yelloly is hoping to get a full-time ride in 2016, having had a disrupted year last year that saw a handful of GP2 races as well as a one-off round of Formula Renault 3.5 at Silverstone, but the British driver believes he has unfinished business in GP2, and wants the opportunity to show what he can do.

“I’m aiming for this year to get a fully sorted programme, ideally in GP2 but obviously open to sportscars, to Formula 3.5, even to the states if something comes up, our eyes are open so we will have to see what happens,” said Yelloly.

“Negotiations are going on with a couple of teams in all areas really, so it’s just keeping that bubbling and then hopefully one will come up sooner rather than later.

“I’d love to prove myself properly [in GP2], I think we proved in the end of season test with MP Motorsport we can be right up at the front, even on the final day we were inside the top ten quite comfortable on old tyres so I think we’d be able to really show the whole grid that both myself could do the job and MP as a team could do the job, so to get a deal with them would be great but they are not the only people we are talking to.

“I’ve got unfinished business in GP2; and I really think with a good package and a clear mind as in I know what I’m doing, and a team-mate – I used to find out on a Wednesday that I was going to go somewhere and drive – you can’t compete; turning up and getting a good result is difficult. 

“If I can get a solid programme done and dusted by the end of January I’d be very happy but mid-February I’d be very happy as well.”

Yelloly thanked Franz Hilmer for giving him a ride in the Hilmer Motorsport GP2 squad during 2015, but with the team struggling with funding this ultimately left them languishing behind the better-funded outfits, and in the end saw the team withdraw before the end of the year.

“Franz gave me a chance to drive GP2 on a small budget, so I’m really grateful to him, and to Baylis & Harding for putting money in at very late notice to get me on the grid,” said Yelloly.   “But I think as the one driver in the end was just me, the funding for the team was just no longer there so it became really frustrating, with no new parts and stuff like that, and when you’ve got the ART and DAMS with big budgets, you just can’t compete with them. 

“It doesn’t matter if you’re Ayrton Senna you’re are not going to be able to go and challenge [Stoffel] Vandoorne in a fully well-built high-budgeted car. It was frustrating but I’m still grateful for the opportunity they gave me.”

After making his Formula 1 testing debut in 2015 with the Sahara Force India team, Yelloly is eager for more track time in 2016, and believes that with the extra in-season tests set for this season, he may be able to drive the car on top of his continuing simulation work.

“We are still negotiating terms with Force India to carry on with the simulator stuff, but I have a contract until May anyway, so that’s as good as done,” revealed Yelloly.

“I’m in there a fair bit, but thankfully they let me do the Williams thing, which I’m very grateful for that they let me off the leash and move some sim days until next week!

“I think it will be a good relationship moving forward, since we started working together the progress has only been forward for the team, and I think the simulation side of it has really helped the car come along and from if we hit the ground running every time we go to the circuit, plus I got to drive the car, so it’s been a good relationship.

“I’d love to [test again], I think there is more chance of that [in 2016] because there is a bit more testing.  I think they are doing two days again at Barcelona and two at Silverstone then some at Abu Dhabi, but the Pirelli tyre tests should enable me to have a play, hopefully, but you never know in F1.

“I was just very lucky to get the chance and I’m very grateful to them for putting me in, as I don’t have any money to give them to drive, so to drive for free was very cool.”

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