SHAABAN TAKES PREMA ROUTE IN F3 EURO SERIES Arab driver opts to join top Italian team over leading British outfit Dubai, UAE, 15th January, 2009: Basil Shaaban has boosted his challenge in the F3 Euro Series by signing an agreement to...
SHAABAN TAKES PREMA ROUTE IN F3 EURO SERIES
Arab driver opts to join top Italian team over leading British outfit
Dubai, UAE, 15th January, 2009: Basil Shaaban has boosted his challenge in the F3 Euro Series by signing an agreement to join the Prema Powerteam for the 2009 season.
The Prema outfit, based in Vicenza, northern Italy, is one of the top four teams in the world's toughest F3 championship, and Shaaban, the only Arab to have appeared in the series, is the first Middle East driver it has offered a seat.
Shaaban, born in Beirut and raised in Abu Dhabi, said: "I'm very excited to be joining a team of Prema's calibre and heritage for my third year of F3 racing.
"Their decision to offer me a contract underlines the fact that I've developed significantly as a racing driver in my first two seasons in the F3 Euro Series.
"The team impressed me during our winter test at Estoril, Portugal where we worked in a focused and productive manner in mixed conditions. Prema's capabilities, and determination to excel, added to the fact that I'll have two strong team mates to share experiences with, means I'll have a real opportunity to perform at the next level.
"I'm looking forward to working with the entire team over the next four months ahead to develop our 2009 package ready for a strong start to the season at Hockenheim in May."
Shaaban, entering a third season with Shell sponsorship, already knows one of his new team-mates, Italian Stefano Coletti, a former European junior karting champion who joined Prema in the middle of last year's championship. A third driver will be named shortly.
Angelo Rosin, Prema's Team Principal, said: "We were really impressed by Basil's skills during the test he made with us, especially as his overall experience is still limited. Our goal is to help him express his strong points, and we hope our determination will make us even stronger, in order to work our way through a successful 2009 season."
Shaaban also underwent winter testing with Manor Motorsport in Britain with a view to a 2009 race contract, and with top French Formula 3 team ART Grand Prix at Le Mans for an evaluation of his capabilities for the future.
The Manor test in Pembrey, Wales, gave him his first drive for two years in a non-HBR Motorsport car, following his decision to move on from the Austrian-based team to develop his career. The ART test provided him with a "priceless" insight into the workings of the world's best F3 and GP2 team.
While ART will keep him in mind for a possible drive in the GP2 Asia Series next year, Manor quickly made Shaaban a "very good offer".
"I chose Prema because everything felt just right," he said. "I quickly developed a good relationship with my engineer, who will be my 2009 race engineer, and the whole team was very responsive to my input on the car's behavior and response to setup changes.
"There were a few other drivers in the frame and it wasn't until two weeks after my test with them that Prema picked me. It was tough to choose between them and Manor. In the end I was swayed by the fact that they had a three-car team instead of four, and had already signed Stefano Coletti, who is an established quick guy in the series and who I know and get along with."
Shaaban will take part in official tests with the team in Estoril on March 18-19 in readiness for ten race weekends in Germany, Holland, England, Spain and France. He will drive a Shell Dallara 308/9 powered by a Mercedes engine.