Dutch driver Daniël de Jong will continue racing in the GP2 Series in 2016, joining reigning Formula Renault 3.5 champion Oliver Rowland in the Westmaas-based MP Motorsport team. Rowland was announced as the team’s first driver last week.
De Jong decided to prolong his GP2 career after his third full season in the Formula One feeder category was cut short by a violent crash at Spa last August, in which he broke a vertebra. After a speedy recovery, the 23-year-old returned to the GP2 fold for the two season-closing events in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.
“Last year, we began looking at what the future holds for us”, De Jong said, “We looked into LMP2 pretty seriously, and I did a test that really pleased me. But then I saw the WEC [World Endurance Championship] prototypes and GP2 race on the same weekend in Bahrain and I thought, GP2 is such an amazing category with cars battling throughout the entire field. That’s why I decided to stay in this hugely competitive championship for one more year before a possible switch to prototype racing.
“With Oliver as a team-mate, we have a fantastic year ahead of us. He is so good and extremely motivated, and we’ve known each other for a long time. Everyone in the team is buzzing with enthusiasm and that feels really great.”
Having joined Italian team Trident for the two Middle East GP2 rounds at the end of 2015, De Jong will return to MP Motorsport for a fourth full season in GP2.
Team principal Sander Dorsman said: “With Oliver and Daniël, we have two drivers that we nurtured ourselves in our Formula Renault 2.0 squad. The two have a strong working relationship and get along very well. Daniël had quite an eventful GP2 season in 2015, so with our exciting new driver pairing we are looking forward to a season of stability and, hopefully, success as well.”