GP2 Bahrain Preview
After a four-week break, the drivers will be eager to get back on track
By William Esler
Last Updated: 18/04/13 10:13am
Sauber reserve driver and reigning Formula Renault 3.5 Series Champion Robin Frijns will make his series debut with Hilmer Motorsport - replacing Conor Daly who is preparing for a GP3 campaign with ART.
"We are very happy to have Robin in our car in Bahrain in and we hope that we can do the whole season together," Team Principal Franz Hilmer said.
"I would like to thank his manager Werner Heinz and of course Monisha Kaltenborn who both helped make this happen. We will do everything we can to help Robin get comfortable in the car and get the chance to be in the front of the grid."
Alexander Rossi will be the other new face on the grid in Bahrain, with the Caterham F1 reserve driver replacing Ma Qing Hua for the remainder of the season at the Malaysian outfit's GP2 squad.
"I look forward to racing this weekend in Bahrain and getting started with the Caterham Racing GP2 team," the American said.
"I know the team well and I'm fitter than I've ever been and a GP2 programme complimenting my F1 duties for Caterham F1 Team is a good balance and I'm confident we'll do a great job together.
"My goal is to win and Caterham Racing has shown in its first couple of years of GP2 that they can do this. My plan is to carry this trend forward. I want to thank Tony, Cyril, Mia and all the people at Caterham F1 Team and Caterham Racing for their continued belief in me."
Britain's James Calado will look to get his title challenge back on track at the Sakhir venue but the ART has a ten-place grid penalty hanging over him after causing an accident in the sprint race last time out.
"I think we have learned from Malaysia and going into Bahrain we have a very good strategy, even with the ten-place penalty we should still be on the podium," Calado said.
"I'm not really bothered (about the penalty) - it's all down to tyres and race pace. It has made my life more difficult that's for sure, but in terms of the result, it is still possible to get a good result and getting on the reverse grid will be important.
"I think just scoring points from that weekend and making the best of a bad situation is all that is needed to be honest and then we move onto the European races were I need to start winning some races and getting myself back to the front of the Championship."
Should Calado or team-mate Daniel Abt finish on the podium in Bahrain, it will mark the 100th time an ART driver has finished in the top three of a GP2 race.
Unlike their F1 counterparts, the GP2 drivers will have to contend with an additional step between the compounds of Pirelli tyres in Bahrain. The Italian manufacturer have opted to bring the yellow-marked soft and orange-marked hard tyres, meaning we may see some drivers sacrifice Sunday's race and use the prime compound for both of their stints in the Feature Race. Either way, the mix of strategy will add another dimension to what is already shaping up to be a thrilling year.
Sky Sports F1 will be covering practice, qualifying and both of the weekend's races live and uninterrupted, as will be the case throughout the season.