Good news today involving a couple of good-guy Canadian drivers.
First, Robert Wickens of Guelph and Toronto, who finished second last year in the FIA European Formula 2 Series and then was cut adrift by Red Bull (I'd initially said BMW; my mistake) who’d supported him for four years, will drive this season in the European GP3 Series for the Canadian-owned Status Grand Prix team.
The GP3 Series is brand-new for 2010 and has been described as a feeder series for GP2 and then F1. Wickens hopes to be able to make the jump directly from GP3 to the big time.
"GP3 is a very good fit for me because we’re at F1 grands prix and it’ll be a great way to highlight myself and show I’m ready to step into F1 in 2011," Wickens told correspondent Matt Beer of autosport.com.
"Having driven the GP3 car with Status (in testing), it made me even more eager to find the necessary funding to participate. It’s been a big effort by many people in Canada, and I’m also very grateful to Status GP for showing faith in me. Together we’re targeting nothing less than the championship.
"It’s nice to see familiar faces from Team Canada - we’ve won together before (in the now-defunct A1GP series) and we can repeat that success."
Status Grand Prix is owned by Teddy Yip Jr., of Vancouver.
Status GP has Russian driver Ivan Lukashevich under contract (Wickens beat him in the F2 points race last year) and is still looking at Markham’s Daniel Morad for a seat in its third car (all GP3 teams must commit to run three cars in each race before being issued an entry).
The GP3 season will start as support races at the Grand Prix of Spain in May.
Meantime, one good turn deserves another and Canadian Alex Tagliani returned a huge favour yesterday when it was announced that Brazilian Bruno Junqueira would drive the Fazzt Race Team’s second car at Indianapolis in May.
Tags was Conquest Racing’s primary driver last year and qualified for the Indy 500. Conquest then hired Junqueira to get its second car into the field.
But Tagliani was bumped from the 33-car starting field at the last minute so Conquest asked Junqueira to step aside. Not only did Tagliani race, but he finished ninth and was named rookie-of-the-year.
Tags is now part-owner of the Fazzt team and was delighted to be able to offer Junqueira the ride.
"Because we have enough sponsorship to run a second car at Indianapolis, we felt it important to give that chance to Bruno," Tagliani said in a release.