The GP2 teams will be travelling to Spain’s Jerez circuit for three days of testing starting on the 28th February.
The 4.428 Km Jerez circuit is located in the South of Spain near the city of Jerez de la Frontera and its tight, twisty nature makes it an ideal venue for testing and developing chassis set-ups. The headquarters of the Racing Engineering team is located at nearby Sanlúcar de Barrameda.
Joining the Racing Engineering team will be their new signing for the 2012 GP2 Series, the 22 year old Swiss driver Fabio Leimer, who proved such a sensation at the end of the 2011 GP2 season when he won the first race at the GP2 Final Meeting held at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. Following on from his dominant performance at both the Jerez and Barcelona testing, held at the end of 2011, Fabio must be considered one of the main contenders for the 2012 Championship.
Joining Fabio at Jerez will be Frenchman Nathanaël Berthon who also drove for Racing Engineering in the 2011 end-of-season tests where he quickly showed a very good turn of speed and was amongst the fastest runners.
Below Fabio Leimer, looks forward to returning to the cockpit and he tells us of his off-season preparations and his hopes for 2012.
This week there is the first of two 2012 pre-season tests taking place in Jerez, but it's not your first test with Racing Engineering. After dominating in Racing Engineering's car during the events held at the end of 2011, how are you planning to take the positive momentum over to 2012?
First of all I am extremely happy I can race for Racing Engineering in GP2 in 2012, and I am also very happy to be back in the race car soon. It was a long winter break and sometimes it's not bad for a driver to disconnect a little bit, but now I am properly prepared, very motivated and very happy I can drive the Racing Engineering car again next week in Jerez. The most important thing will be to quickly get back into the car and adapt to it quickly. Our goal will be to gather as much information as possible that we might need later on during the season.
What did your preparation during the winter consist of?
Like most drivers I mainly worked on stamina during the winter months. Initially I had some holidays and went skiing, and then I spent a lot of time working on my fitness. Winter is the most important time to prepare myself properly from a physical point of view and to be best prepared at the start of the season as well as to be strong throughout the entire year. I also spent some time with the team. We made a new seat, studied and analysed some data for Jerez, Barcelona, but also we were already looking at Sepang, as it will be my first time at this race track. So it was important for me to practice for Sepang on the simulator to start to get a little familiar with its layout.
You are joining a new team for the 2012 GP2 championship. How was your incorporation in the team and how do you feel in this new work environment?
Very good! This was immediately visible last year when I drove with Racing Engineering at Jerez and Barcelona. At the very first test I was already the quickest in the morning, when it usually takes a bit of time to get used to a new car and team. But it worked really well from the very beginning and continued when we tested in Barcelona and during the Abu Dhabi race. I think the results speak for themself and show that I feel comfortable within the team, we work together well and get along very well, something that’s very important to achieve results.
During the three days in Jerez you will have to go through an intense test program. What does it consist of and what are your expectations regarding this first pre-season test?
As I mentioned before, the main point will be to drive the car and to quickly get used to it again. We have a very clear program we will try to follow and will try a lot of things during these three days. We have gained lots of information during the winter months, which we will try to verify on track during the next days. The work will then be on fine tuning the insights gained for the championship. This will be the most important. I am really looking forward to the test.