My Team Qi-Meritus.Mahara has confirmed that Earl Bamber will join the team for its second GP2 Asia season to pair with Malaysian driver Alex Yoong. The New Zealander joins the team from a triumphant A1GP weekend in Zandvoort (NL) where he was ...
My Team Qi-Meritus.Mahara has confirmed that Earl Bamber will join the team for its second GP2 Asia season to pair with Malaysian driver Alex Yoong. The New Zealander joins the team from a triumphant A1GP weekend in Zandvoort (NL) where he was racing under his country's flag. He joined new team mate Alex Yoong in testing with My Team Qi-Meritus.Mahara on Wednesday and Thursday this week during the GP2 Asia official tests at the Chinese GP circuit.
Earl Bamber commented: "It is a great honour to be associated with such a strong team as My Team Qi-Meritus.Mahara that I have known ever since we won the Formula BMW Asia Championship in 2006 together. I am convinced that it is one of the most professional teams in the paddock . We will not fail to score points again from the first race of the season. I hope that my experience in A1 Grand Prix will help us work our way up the overall championship.
"I missed the first part of the test session because I was still travelling from Holland to Shanghai. It is a different car to A1. The package is good and there is a lot more grip. I suppose it will take me a while to get used to the car. I progressed after day 2 and drove about 250 kilometres. It is important to work hard to improve the car plus correcting a few mistakes I made. But the potential is quite good. This weekend for the race it will be a big step up from all the other series I have driven until now - even A1GP. I need to put in a bit more work and debrief with the team to finalise a good strategy for the race. Only 5 or 6 more long working days to go before we can be fully ready for the first race next week. I am so pleased to be back with a team that I know well".
Gianfranco Bielli, team principal commented: "We are excited to have Earl driving with us in GP2 Asia. It will be a good experience for him. He has a lot to learn, but is very quick and continues to impress with every lap he covers. If will be a good combination if we manage no mistakes on the drivers’ part and a good car. A pity that the red flags disrupted the track time and prevented us to complete a full race distance with Earl. But we are confident that he learns fast."
Peter Thompson, team founder commented: "Our driver line up is a great combination between Alex Yoong's experience and Earl Bamber’s raw young speed. We have a good mix of talents for our Asian and Middle Eastern team. The first race will be the start to an exciting second season in GP2 Asia and we hope to all be fighting at the front.
The first round of the season will take place at Shanghai on 18-19 October, 2008 as a support race to the F1 Grand Prix weekend. The season will take in six, two-race rounds ending in Bahrain on 19 April 2009.
18-year-old Earl Bamber is a rising racing star from New Zealand who has won over a quarter of all professional races he has contested. His first major success came in 2004 when he won the New Zealand karting championship and finished third in the World Finals of Rotax Max Junior. Despite his young age, Bamber's strong performance earned him a break in Formula Ford New Zealand the following year where he won three races and finished the championship fourth overall.
In 2006 Meritus signed up the young talent for the Formula BMW Asia series which he won taking ten victories in the season. He stayed with Meritus the following year competing in Toyota Racing Series New Zealand and Formula Renault V6 Asia.
2008 has been a busy year for Bamber competing in International Formula Master, Formula Master Italy, the Australian Formula 3 Championship, Formula V6 Asia (where he won the championship) and Toyota Racing Series New Zealand in which he finished runner up. Bamber’s competitive performance also attracted the attention of A1 Grand Prix where he has represented his country in the 2008-9 season finishing his first two races on the podium.
Q: How has testing gone so far for you in GP2 Asia?
Earl Bamber: I missed the first morning of tests because I was travelling back from Zandvoort where I took my first ever podium in A1 Grand Prix for Team A1 New Zealand. Of course, I am very happy after my first test and experience at the wheel of a GP2 Asia series car. It is easy to drive and seems like it will be a lot of fun to race with a lot more grip and down force. It's nothing like the cars I have driven until now. I am very excited to be driving for a team I know well again!
Q: How did you come to GP2 Asia?
A: Peter Thompson phoned me and asked me if I would be tempted by a new experience in an excellent championship. The reputation of Meritus in Asia is second to none and I did not hesitate for a moment.
Q: Looking at the calendar this season, which circuits will you enjoy racing on most?
A: I'm excited to drive at Sepang again. Even if you know the track there, it is still very hard with the corners and the heat. It's a very challenging track. I'm also expecting to have a good race in Dubai. It will be new for me. I know the other tracks. I'm determined to get on the podium again in at least those races!
One on one with Earl Bamber:
Q: When was last time that you drove a racing car?
A: Not long ago - it was last weekend (October 4-5, 2008) in Zandvoort and I will never forget my podium.
Q: How did you get involved with GP2 Asia?
A: It was quite natural because I have known the Meritus team and Peter Thompson for a long time since we have been Formula BMW Asia Champions together in 2006.
Q: Will you be ready for the start of the season?
A: I hope so! I am just starting to learn the car and how best to set it up.
Q: Tell us about your fitness training schedule.
A: I have a trainer at home, Stewart, and I regularly follow his program. It is very important.
Q: How do you prepare for each race, mentally and physically?
A: I am very focussed.
Q: Do you have any superstitions before a race?
A: Not any more, but I used to be superstitious. I suppose that with experience you get more confident plus there are a few things that you do not need to have around you to make yourself comfortable. For instance I used to place my helmet always in the same position on the bench in the pits, but now I'm a bit more relaxed about these things!
Q: What is your best racing memory?
A: My best memory would be the race I won in Imola in the Formula Master championship.
Q: Where else are you racing this year?
A: The V6 Renault Asia Chamionship and we are the leading team for now.
Q: What is your diet like?
A: I stay away from junk food. It is important to eat well and to have energy.
Q: What is your best quality?
A: I do not know but maybe, I am persistent.
Q: What is your best racing quality?
A: I have a great determination.
Q: What you hate the most?
A: Yellow flags on a race track in qualifying.