Max Papis to drive for FernÃ¡ndez Racing at Mid-Ohio. INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (August 5, 2002) -- FernÃ¡ndez Racing announced today that Max Papis will replace owner/driver AdriÃ¡n FernÃ¡ndez at the CART Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio on August 11. Papis...
Max Papis to drive for Fernández Racing at Mid-Ohio.
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (August 5, 2002) -- Fernández Racing announced today that Max Papis will replace owner/driver Adrián Fernández at the CART Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio on August 11. Papis will take over driving duties of the #51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda/Lola/Bridgestone as Fernández continues his recovery from injuries sustained in a multi-car accident at the CART FedEx Championship Series race on July 28 in Vancouver.
Papis, 32, of Como, Italy, is in his seventh season of Champ Car competition. He last drove at the Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey on June 9, missing the past five events due to Sigma Autosport's withdrawal from the series. Known by fans and the media alike as "Mad Max", Papis scored podium finishes of third in two of five races contested this season and placed sixth in the championship standings last year.
"I have been driving against Max for a long time and have a lot of respect for his ability behind the wheel," said Fernández. "My partners, Tom [Anderson] and Don [Halliday], and I spoke with our sponsors and we decided Max was the best choice. He has done a very good job this year and I am sure he will do a good job for us at Mid-Ohio. He has proven that he is a winning driver but, unfortunately, he had some problems with his team that took him away from the track this year. The pledge that we have to make to our sponsors is to put the best driver available in the car, and right now we feel that is Max."
Papis will be making his seventh Champ Car appearance at Mid-Ohio. He has posted top finishes of fourth in 2000 and fifth in 1999 on the 2.258-mile permanent road course, which also was the site of his Champ Car debut in 1996 with Arciero-Wells Racing.
"First of all, what has happened with Adrián is an unfortunate situation," said Papis. "At the same time, I am very glad to join Fernández Racing and to be able to work with everyone there including Don Halliday and the people at Honda, who I never had the opportunity to work with in the past. I am pleased that I was chosen by Adrián and the team in a most unfortunate situation to replace him at this difficult moment. I know that these decisions are not only based on the human factor but also the technical factor, and that is something that makes me really happy about this choice."
Fernández, who suffered two hairline fractures in his left pelvis and severe bruising on his right buttock, will remain at his home in Phoenix but will be in close contact with the team throughout the race weekend. This is the second time in his 10-year Champ Car career that Fernández has been on the sidelines for a race. He missed four events, including Mid-Ohio, in 1999 due to a broken right wrist from an accident in practice at the Detroit race.
"I would like to be in Mid-Ohio but right now it is more important for me to be able to concentrate on my recovery and to try to get back into the race car as soon as possible," said Fernández. "I feel that going to Mid-Ohio would jeopardize my progress. I would love to be there, but I have to look ahead at my recovery. Shinji [Nakano] has been picking up the pace significantly in the last few races and is going to lead the team in a very positive way. I think he and Max will work very well together."
Papis, who considers Mid-Ohio a home race having driven with Hilliard, Ohio-based Team Rahal the past three seasons, is looking forward to this weekend.
"Mid-Ohio has a great fan base and I am looking forward to going there and bringing home for Fernández Racing a very strong result," said Papis. "I am pleased to join the team but I am not an albatross waiting around for someone to get hurt. I am going to do my best for the team under these circumstances, and I'm just waiting for Adrián to come back and continue his job."
For additional information on Fernández Racing, please visit www.fernandezracing.net.
Additional information on Max Papis can be found at www.maxpapis.com. For more information on the CART FedEx Championship Series, please visit www.cart.com.