Season Summary 2012 Auto GP World Series
Driving in Auto GP this season has been great. The former Formula 3000 series, now called Auto GP has given me unique experience. A car almost as powerful as a GP2 car, hard competition, world class racing tracks in 4 continents has been rewarding. This is a summary of my season in Auto GP, one of my best seasons in formula racing.
Before the season started, the decision to drive Auto GP was mainly a financial issue, because it was more affordable than driving in GP2. But affordability wasn’t the only thing that made me choose to drive in Auto GP.
There were 4 good reasons for me to drive in Auto GP, other than affordability. The car, the competition, the racing circuits, and the total experience played just as big role in my decision just as much as affordability.
The first reason to drive Auto GP was the car. The 550bhp Zytek powered Lola Auto GP car really kicks off, so it wasn’t such a big downgrade from GP2 when it comes to the car.
The second reason was the competition. The drivers in the series are mostly young, fast and ambitious. They aim for Formula One, and come from competitive series, like Italian Formula Renault, Euroseries Formula Renault, GP3, GP2, WSR, Formula Master, Formula 3 and even from Formula One. I have personally been racing with several of the top drivers in my previous seasons. Like Italian Formula Renault and GP3.
The third reason is the racing circuits. The races were held on a few formula one tracks, like Monza and Hungaroring, which gives me more experience on these tracks. Portimao and Valencia are common tracks for racing in Europe. Racing in Marrakech gave me more and valuable experience on street circuits. Driving in Brazil gave me experience on a new circuit and Brazil. And Sonoma in California gave me experience on a traditional circuit for American racing. Both Portimao and Sonoma gave me experience on tracks with many blind corners.
The fourth reason for driving Auto GP was the experience. Driving in Auto GP was valuable for me in the knowledge I would gain from driving a car in this league. Most GP2 drivers need 2-3 seasons in GP2 to fully adapt to the powerful car, and the reason for this is that there is almost no testing in GP2. So a driver usually need 2-3 seasons in GP2 to both fully adapt to the car, and for the driver and team to learn the most ideal setup for the driver on every circuit in different weather conditions.
So I decided that driving in Auto GP would be a smarter way to gain knowledge and experience about a high power formula car, that is similar to GP2, rather than to repeat an expensive season in GP2 this year that I really couldn’t afford without more sponsors or investors.
The competition is similar in Auto GP, where the top drivers are just as talented as GP2 drivers. The tracks gave me lots of experience. In total Auto GP has given me a lot of knowledge and experience, and confidence with a high power formula car.
Finance played a large role in my pre-season decision, where the Auto GP World Series is basically half the price compared to the GP2 Series, and I couldn’t get enough sponsors and investors to finance a second season in GP2. I saw many good advantages other than the cheaper cost for driving a season in Auto GP, and the season definitively has been thrilling and rewarding, and has made me stronger and better as a driver.
This season has been very exciting and fun. From the first testing in Monza I got confident with the car, and actually got positively surprised of the power and speed these cars actually have. After I won the first race in Sonoma, IndyCar picked me out to do a simulator test for them so they could compare the laptimes from IndyCar and Auto GP for the same circuit with the same driver. It actually turned out that the Auto GP car was just as quick as an IndyCar.
From the first race in Monza to the last race in Sonoma I have been fighting in the top. In the first round in Monza I got podiums in every race, one 2nd
place and one victory, and was leading the championship after the first round. After Valencia I was second in the championship, and have been fighting with Adrian Quaife Hobbs all season for the 1st
place in the championship, until he was declared champion after the second last round in Curitiba, Brazil.
Unlike Adrian, I haven’t been so lucky all the time. I have lost a victory with a stalled car in Marrakech, and Sirotkin has crashed me out two times this season. In Marrakech I has driving with a debris under my car in race 2, causing tremendous under steering, and in race 1 in Hungary, I was driving with a broken unbalanced car, after Sirotkin torpedoed into the side of my car when I was in the lead. I have had destructive technical issues in the qualifying. Once, the fuel pump stopped working, and once I couldn’t get full power from the engine. And in Curitiba I had some severe allergic reactions during my qualifying.
On the other hand, I have had the best season result since becoming Formula Renault 2.0 Italian Champion in 2008. In 2012 Auto GP World Series I have had won 3 races, taken 3 second places, and taken 2 third places. Over all, I have been on the podium every single race weekend, with 8 podiums on 7 race weekends. I have become Vice Champion in the driver championship in one of the hardest single seater formula car series in the world.
I have been racing on 4 continents this season (Europe, Africa, South America and North America). I have been racing for a newcomer team, Virtuosi UK, and had great experience with it. We have done a great job this season together. I have had very good communication with the team from the start to the end. They have done a magnificent job with everything. Many thanks to everybody in the team! The work Virtuosi UK has done this season for me has been fantastic. Formula racing really is a teamsport. You need a good team, a good driver and good communication and cooperation to get success in racing. And I feel that I have had very good communication with Virtuosi UK, and that they have done a really great job.
In total, my Auto GP season have been very rewarding for me. Driving in such a competitive series, with a high power formula car, in a newcomer team, on high class racing circuits on 4 continents, has given me unique experience. I learn every year I do racing. I now have 16 years of racing experience, and 6 years in single seater formula cars. With this year I have 2 years in very high power single seater formula cars. On my way to formula one, this is very valuable. I feel I am way more confident with a high power formula car now, and I am ready for a season in a high power formula car next year. #Vikinghorns