USF1 American hopeful driver Jonathan Summerton has been invited to test the Formula 2 car in Portugal this coming weekend by Chris Dredge, the Formula Two coordinator.
Chris called me out of the blue on Mondayabout lunchtime asking if I could be in Portugal by Fridayto do a one day test in the car on Saturday. Obviously I answered, yes," said Jonathan. "To drive the Formula 2 car will be a great experience. I have heard good reports on its handling and power and it sounds like a fun car drive."
"I haven't even seen the Algarve track yet. This will be another great experience to jump in a new car at a new track, especially when most of the drivers will already have the prior day's testing under their belts;but I am up to the challenge,"commented Jonathan. "It will be nice to come back to Europe.
Jonathan raced in the F3 Euro series as a rookiein 2006 with Mucke team mate Sebastian Buemi, Sebastian Vettel, Kobyashi, Nakajima and Paul Di Resta. before racing in the A1GP series for team USA where he became the only American to win a race. In 2008 and this year he has raced in the Atlantic Championship and was leading the Indy Lights series before lack of funding made him unable to continue.
In the off season Jonathan has been busy training hard and working on finding sponsors for the up coming year. "I was looking forward to doing the Kart race at PRI but nowI will be testing in the Algarve in an F2 car which is going to be a lot of fun. I am excited to get back in a car and get that great feeling of driving back in my system. F1 has always been my dream and to win the F2 Championship and get a Formula 1 test with Williams F1 team will be amazing, I can't wait to get back out there driving again."
Formula Two is a great feeder series to Formula One with the winner receiving a test in the Williams Formula 1 car. The car was designed by Williams to be the perfect feeder car for up and coming F1 prospective drivers.
So, for Jonathan it was back to booking flights to the UK and then on to Portugal, finding a hotel and packing, leaving his home in Orlando, Florida, on Wednesday.
This year was theinaugural year for the Formula 2 series and it became very popular both with spectators, and through the great t.v. exposure it received with Eurosport. It gave close, exciting and very competitive racing. In 2010 it will be featured on Eurosport both throughout Europe and Asia, thus giving the series worldwide exposure for its sponsors.J The 2009 FIA Formula Two Championship started with a vision to provide a dramatically less expensive championship in which aspiring F1 drivers can learn, develop their skills and ultimately try and prove that they have the talent and ability to rise to the very top and be deserving of an F1 drive. Until F2, the only way a driver could compete at the brink of F1 was to have either a very wealthy family and/or friends, or rarely, find someone who would fund his or her racing and gamble on future earnings for a return. Until F2, the cost of participation at this level has been impossible to afford through commercial sponsorship -- the benefits have been a fraction of the cost.
Even more important than low cost has been equality of opportunity. In virtually every other championship in the world, a driver's performance is heavily influenced by the competence of his team. Usually only those few at the front will be satisfied with this; the majority though will feel that their results would have been better had they been with the leading team. In F2 everyone drives for the winning team. It is impossible to choose the wrong team.
The vision was shared by both the FIA and Jonathan Palmer's MotorSport Vision (MSV) company. The FIA had been campaigning tirelessly to bring down the costs associated with the Formula One World Championship, whilst MSV had been running the low-cost, equal opportunity Formula Palmer Audi series for over a decade. When the FIA launched the tender to design the cars and operate a new Formula Two championship, they found a perfect marriage with MotorSport Vision, and the F2 name returned to the halls of motorsport after a 25 year absence.
MSV was extremely fortunate to secure Williams F1 to design its F2 car and be its technical partner. Williams F1 has won seven Formula One World Drivers' Championships and nine Constructors' Championships since their first Grand Prix victory at Silverstone on 14 July, 1979.
The F2 project benefited hugely from the involvement of many of Williams F1's sophisticated resources, including particularly computer modelling using their composite fluid dynamics (CFD) technology, and the first test car was built at its Grove facility by the end of January 2009.
Whilst the design work was going on, there were drivers eager to know what this exciting and revolutionary F2 championship was all about.
Whilst MSV Chief Executive Jonathan Palmer set out the detail of the F2 series, Frank Williams spoke to explain Williams' support. News spread quickly, and F2 fast became oversubscribed as drivers sought to enter the new series. Even in its first year, the field was quick to fill and ultimately over-subscribed with 25 drivers from 15 different nationalities destined to be on the grid for the first F2 race in Valencia in May.
By 2 March 2009 the F2 carwas ready to be unveiled at Brands Hatch.In total, from winning the FIA tender to all 25 cars rolling out for that first test in May, it had taken just over eight months for the entire Formula Two championship to come together. The series would partner the FIA World Touring Car Championship at five of its eight events in 2009, and would be broadcast across Europe and Asia by Eurosport. It was an outstanding achievementand a great tribute to both Williams F1 and MSV, whose Group Operations Manager Giles Butterfield had been responsible for what many considered impossible.