The GP2 teams will be assembling in Malaysia at the Sepang International Circuit this weekend for the first two races in the 2013 GP2 Series. Following a series of positive results in the pre-season testing at Jerez and Barcelona the Racing Engineering team will be looking to start the year with a positive result for both their drivers.
For Fabio Leimer this will be his second season at Racing Engineering and in 2012 the young Swiss driver was consistently one of the fastest drivers in the Series and he was very unlucky not to take a win during the year. Fabio showed his speed at Sepang last year when he qualified 5th and finished 4th in the Feature race and 6th in the Sprint race.
This will be Julián Leal’s first race outing for Racing Engineering but the young Colombian has quickly adapted to driving for his new team and as this is his third season in the GP2 Series he has plenty of experience to draw upon.
Below Alfonso de Orléans-Borbón, president of Racing Engineering, looks forward to the special challenges of a new season:
There were six pre-season test days with weather conditions very different from that which is usually encountered during the season. Are you happy with Racing Engineering's progress in pre-season testing?
Between the cold running days in Jerez and the wet ones in Barcelona, we definitely have a couple of good set ups for extreme weather. But then again, it's the same for everyone, and we usually race in different conditions. Apart from allowing Julián to become familiar with the team as quickly as possible, definitely our main focus was on getting to know the new Pirelli tires. We should be in a pretty good position, but let's see when we get to Malaysia, that's where it counts.
Which rivals have caught your eye so far and do you think they will also be the main competitors during the season?
I think the main competitor for us will be James Calado, but then again, there are always a couple of surprises every year, it's too early to tell at the moment. Our main focus is on our drivers and making sure they get the best results, the rest is just speculation, so all our work and effort is centred on providing our drivers with the best possible equipment and solutions.
With Julián Leal Racing Engineering has a new driver in 2013, while Fabio Leimer is staying for another year. What does the team expect from this driver pairing?
First of all, it's one of the best driver pairings we ever had. They get along well, know that they work together well and have been team mates previously, so more than anything it is about making a car that is the best for them. Our main objective is for both to get the maximum points at every outing. I would be lying if I didn’t say that we are obviously going for both the driver and team championships, but our main focus is on race by race. If we do our work properly and stay out of trouble, it should not be difficult to achieve.
The season starts this week at the Malaysian Sepang track. Racing Engineering's cars were very competitive there in 2012. Do you think this performance can be repeated? Well, I do think we have a very good set up for Sepang, as we saw last year, but then again, with these new tires and no warm weather running, we will have to wait and see. One thing is for sure; both drivers like the track and should be fast there. But we are also aware that from a driving point of view it is one of the - if not the - most difficult tracks we race on this season. It is a challenging layout and demands a lot from the drivers. This mixture of different types of corners gives them little time to relax in the car and their main task will be to keep up their concentration levels throughout the sessions. We expect it to be hot and humid in Sepang, so this will spice things up even more and it will really be up to the driver to make a difference in making his tyres last.