The 2006 line-up begins to take shape
With just over a month to go until the start of this year's winter testing, the World Series Formula Renault 3.5 teams have been keeping themselves busy. Hardly a day goes by without news about drivers for the 2006 season. We take a quick look at those names who are already confirmed.
The Cold War thaws at Carlin?
The British outfit was among the first to announce its driver line-up. Both supported by Red Bull, the American Colin Fleming and the Russian Mikhail Aleshin will join forces to fight for the cause of the British team. Formerly with Jenzer Motorsport, Fleming made it onto the podium at Le Mans in 2005. Aleshin will however be racing in the category for the first time after finishing 2nd in the German Formula Renault 2.0 championship last season.
Rossiter and Franchi to follow in Kubica's footsteps?
After coming to the fore as a leading driver in the F3 Euro Series, Robert Kubica switched to the World Series Formula Renault 3.5 with the kind of success we all know about. James Rossiter and Gregory Franchi are clearly determined to follow in the footsteps of the Polish driver. The British driver has joined the Pons Racing team. The Spanish outfit has also confirmed that it will be enlisting the help of Celso Miguez, who stays with them on the same deal as in 2005. As for Belgian driver Franchi, he is the first driver to be confirmed by Prema Power Team. Gregory was already competing for the Venice-based team in F3. He says he is particularly looking forward to competing in the two rounds due to take place on his home soil at Zolder and Spa.
Hanley joins RDD programme and stays at Cram
The progress made by Benjamin Hanley has been nothing short of meteoric. In 2005, in his first season in single-seater racing, he ended up as runner-up in the Italian Formula Renault 2.0 championship caught between Kobayashi and Ammermüller. In Estoril, Cram Competition gave him the chance to try out the Formula Renault 3.5 and the young British driver was quick to put himself up amongst the leaders! His rapid progress did not escape the attention of the Renault Driver Development programme management team, who invited him to join the scheme. He will compete in the 2006 season for Cram Competition, in familiar surroundings and with a team that will offer him their full support. Ben will be racing alongside Yugoslavian driver Milos Pavlovic, who took part in the entire 2005 season with GD Racing (a podium finish in Bilbao).
Full house at Draco!
Four-time winners in 2005 with Winkelhock and Montanari, the Italian Draco Racing team has signed the Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado and Czech driver Tomas Kostka. These two young, but savvy prospects will looking to do more than just make an impact in their second season in the category. Nadia Morini is very confident in the potential of his new recruits!
Barba signs for Jenzer
Fifth in the Spanish F3 championship, Alvaro Barba was able to try out the Formula Renault 3.5 in testing organized at the Circuit Paul Ricard in December of last year. The Seville-based driver was clearly won over as he has now signed for the Swiss team, Jenzer Motorsport.
Five F1 circuits on the race calendar
With Monaco, Istanbul, Spa-Francorchamps, Nürburgring and Barcelona all on this year's race calendar, the World Series by Renault will offer young drivers the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the circuits used by Formula 1 on no less than five occasions.