The Renault Driver Development programme announces its 2005 line-up For the 2005 season, continuity is the watchword of the Renault Driver Development programme: four of the five drivers for the coming season graduated from the 2004 ...
The Renault Driver Development programme announces its 2005 line-up
For the 2005 season, continuity is the watchword of the Renault Driver Development programme: four of the five drivers for the coming season graduated from the 2004 class.
Inaugurated by the Renault F1 Team in 2002, the objective of the RDD programme is to detect the star racing drivers of tomorrow. The comprehensive and demanding RDD programme offers its members the opportunity to develop in the most appropriate championship, while also following rigorous sporting and physical training regimes. As young ambassadors for Renault, the RDD drivers are evaluated by criteria which take account of their on-track performance -- but also their performance away from the circuit. Renault Driver Development has earned its reputation as a prestigious, tough and effective proving ground.
2005 will see four members of the 2004 programme retained for the coming season, a first for the RDD. Heading the list is Heikki Kovalainen, 23, who confirmed his potential last year by taking the title in the World Series by Nissan, then turning heads as he won the Race of Champions at the Stade de France, Paris last December. An RDD member since 2002, his application, commitment and talent were also called upon by the Renault F1 Team on several occasions in 2004, when he conducted early development work for the R25. This season, he will compete in the GP2 Series championship with the Arden team.
After finishing sixth in last season's F3000 championship, Argentine Jose-Maria Lopez, 21, has also been retained for the 2005 season, and will compete head-to-head with Kovalainen in the GP2 Series, driving for the DAMS team.
After an inconsistent but promising season in British F3, Brazilian Lucas Di Grassi, 20, will once again race in RDD colours in 2005. Two victories and four podiums in 2004 demonstrated his potential, and he will compete in the Formula 3 Euroseries this season with Manor Motorsport.
Frenchman Loval, 22, endured a challenging season in 2004. However, his encouraging performances at the end of the season and two podium finishes have earned him his place for 2005. He will compete in the Formula 3 Euroseries for a second season, for the Signature team.
The newest member of the programme, and the youngest of the group, is Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado. At nearly 20 years of age, he won the Italian Formula Renault 2000 Championship in 2004 and will compete in the World Series by Renault championship Formula Renault 3.5L for the DAMS team.