FORMULA MASTER GETS EVEN CLOSER TO GP2
Formula Master's goal to provide young drivers with the best learning environment has led to the Series changing its racing format for 2009. From next season onwards, Formula Master's schedule and points system will be closer aligned with that of Formula 1 feeder series, GP2.
Race weekends will feature longer free practice sessions when partnering the FIA World Touring Car Championship, whilst the two Formula 1 rounds see the Series' field of young racers compete on two of the most demanding circuits in Europe, the Hungaroring and Spa.
The Series' points system will now reflect the GP2 series format exactly, keeping the official FIA scoring structure for Saturday races, which awards points to the top eight drivers with the winner scoring 10 points.
Sunday races will still feature an inverted grid with the top eight finishers from Saturday starting in reverse order. Only the top six drivers will be rewarded, whilst the winner will now score six points. Additional points will be awarded for pole position in race one (one point) and the fastest lap in each race (one point per round).
Combined with the technical characteristics of the Formula Master car, such as the Magneti Marelli hydraulic gearbox control system featuring gearbox and clutch paddles and the Marvel 8 ECU (2008 version) including data acquisition, the 2009 Formula Master racing format underlines the Series' successful platform as a training ground for young drivers on their way to the higher echelons of motorsport.
Following a strong showing from 2008 race winners Chris van der Drift and Earl Bamber in the GP2 Asia season opener in China, it was Fabio Leimer's turn to impress this week.
The 19-year-old was fastest on his first outing in an Indy Lights car during his test with Sam Schmidt Motorsports yesterday at the Kentucky Speedway in Kentucky, USA. Leimer wasted no time in proving his worth and reached top speeds of 305km/h on the oval track.
With experienced drivers such as Charlie Kimball (Euro Formula 3 and World Series by Renault), James Hinchcliffe (Formula Atlantic), Sebastian Saavedra (German Formula 3) and Marco Bonanomi (World Series by Renault and GP2 Asia) also featuring, the Formula Master vice-champion acquitted himself well behind the wheel of the 3.5 litre V8-powered car despite having no previous experience.
Averaging a speed of 300km/h over 85 laps, Leimer's fastest times were one tenth quicker that this year's Indy Lights' pole and two tenths faster than any other drivers taking part in the test.
The young Swiss' test with team Sam Schmidt Motorsports continues on Monday at the Putnam Park road circuit in Indiana.