Formula BMW Americas - round 3 and 4 preview
Formula BMW joins the undercard of the Canadian Grand Prix this weekend for Rounds 3 and 4 of the 2008 Formula BMW Americas Championship. This special weekend, a season highlight for many young Formula BMW drivers from around the world, has been a part of the world's leading entry level open wheel series since 2004.
While the rewards of a great performance are high, the challenges of supportingthe Grand Prix circus are also large. Most find it the biggest test they faced yet in their young careers. For 10 of the Formula BMW Americas drivers in the field it will be the first time they have raced on the 2.71-mile, 13-turn Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Never before have they performed before such large crowds and faced the teams that hold the keys to their futures.
BMW Junior driver Gianmarco Raimondo (Autotecnicia), 17, of St. Catherines, Ontario, one of four Canadians in the field, leads the Overall and Rookie point standings after sweeping Rounds 1 and 2 at Laguna Seca Raceway in May. Quebec resident Maxime Pelletier (Apex-HBR Racing Team) stands second Overall and will be making his third Formula BMW start at Montreal this weekend. Apex-HBR teammate Alexandre Ruiz, of Sao Paulo, Brazil, is third in Overall points. Ruiz, a BMW Junior driver, stands second in Rookie points. Eurointernational teammates Alexander Rossi, the sole American in the field, and Ricardo Favoretto, of Sao Paulo, Brazil stand fourth and fifth respectively in Overall points. Both young men each had one disappointing race and a second place finish at Laguna Seca, have experience here from last year and are sure to be looking to move up in the standings.
The weekend's challenges begin right away on Friday. Sandwiching Formula One practice is a single 30-minute practice at 8:45 a.m. followed by the single 30- minute qualifying session at 12:00 p.m. A driver's starting position for Round 3 will be determined by their fastest time. Their second fastest time will set the grid for Round 4. Those able to get up to speed quickly will be rewarded with a starting spot that, following a great standing start, will allow them good position for the tricky first series of turns.
Six drivers from the Formula BMW Europe series will be making the trip to Montreal. They are Doru Sechelariu (Autotecnica), of Bacau, Romania; William Buller (Autotecnica), of Great Britain; Asad Rahman (Atlantic Racing Team), of Dubai; Mihai Marinescu (Integra Motorsports), of Brasov, Romania; Ollie Millroy (Atlantic Racing Team), of Claygate, Great Britain, and Daniel Juncadella (EURO Junior Team), of Barcelona, Spain. Juncadella, with two poles and a second place finish at this past weekend's races in Zolder stands third in Formula BMW Europe points.
The Round 3 race is scheduled to begin at 2:45 p.m. Saturday and Round 4 is scheduled for a 9:30 a.m. start on Sunday.
Overall points standings: Raimondo (40), Pelletier (22), Ruiz (18) Rossi (17), Favoretto (16), Grenier (15) Goncalvez (12) Vilarinho (11), Ostella (6) Jovanovic (6). Rookie points: Raimondo (40), Ruiz (18), Grenier (15), Vilarinho (11), Ostella (6), Jovanovic (6)
Licensing courses for the 2009 season are scheduled for July 28-29 and August 4-5. They will be held at the Formula BMW Racing Center at the Circuit de la Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo, in Valencia, Spain. Applications are now available at www.formulabmwamericas.com.
Formula BMW is the world's leading entry-level series in formula racing. In 2008 the three Formula BMW series - Formula BMW Europe, Formula BMW Pacific and Formula BMW Americas - will be held in the key motor sport markets of Europe, pan-Asia and North and South America. The end of the year will see the Formula BMW World Final staged for the fourth time. The winner will be granted the opportunity of a test drive with the BMW Sauber F1 Team. Formula BMW will be held on the undercard of Formula One on 12 occasions. The series gives young racing talents the chance to enter professional motor sport in a safe racing car - the Formula BMW FB02.
The FB02 has been in use since season 2002. It is powered by a 140 hp BMW engine that takes it to a top speed of up to 230 km/h. It ranks among the safest vehicles in its category and exceeds the FIA safety regulations that govern this class of car. Innovations such as the FORS (Formula Rescue Seat) were developed by BMW Motorsport specifically for Formula BMW. Following Formula One, Formula BMW was the first single-seater series outside the US in which the HANS system was made mandatory.
Formula BMW drivers have the opportunity to take part in an Education and Coaching Programme that runs parallel with the racing season. The program includes driver coaching at the races by professional race drivers, attending a Formula One test, fitness courses, tuition in driving technique and strategy, as well as seminars on sponsoring and sport management.
Among the 20 team drivers in this season's Formula One, there are now four Formula BMW graduates: Nico Rosberg, Adrian Sutil, Sebastian Vettel and Timo Glock. The test and reserve drivers add three more to the tally, namely Christian Klien, Sebastien Buemi and Nicolas Hulkenberg.
In the words of BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen: "With our worldwide Formula BMW concept, we offer drivers and teams a platform which, in this format, is unprecedented in a junior series and which allows them to benefit from our Formula One involvement. Through Formula BMW the drivers are equipped with the tools they need to assert themselves successfully in the world of professional motor racing."