Canadian racer Robert Wickens will join Carlin’s Formula Renault 3.5 team for the 2011 season. The GP3 vice champion races with the support of Marussia Motors LLC, who have signed Wickens as part of its Driver Development programme. Wickens will race alongside British F3 champion Jean-Eric Vergne at the championship winning team.
Marussia, which is an owner of the Marussia Virgin Racing team, has brought Wickens on board to develop his talent as it builds a long-term future in Formula One™. The driver development project, founded in 2005, is led by Marussia Motors president Nikolai Fomenko, a former international GT racer who has twice competed at the Le Mans 24 Hours, and is now the presenter of the Top Gear Russia television programme.
The World Series programme will see Wickens re-united with Carlin, who ran him in 2008. Last year Wickens, 21, finished runner-up in the GP3 Series, the highly competitive new Formula One™ support championship. The Ontario-born driver scored Marussia its first international single-seater win last year when his Marussia-branded GP3 car won at the German Grand Prix support race in Hockenheim, and he went on to score further wins at Spa-Francorchamps and Monza.
Wickens makes a welcome addition to the Carlin team as one of today’s most talented young drivers. The Canadian has won races in all six categories in which he has competed, including Formula Renault 3.5 with Carlin in 2008.
Wickens said: “To have Marussia behind me and helping my career is fantastic, and I’m honoured to represent them and their brand. The race drive in World Series is an exciting part of my programme, and I am delighted to be back with the guys at Carlin – they are champions, and together the clear goal is to win this year’s Formula Renault 3.5 title.”
Speaking about the team’s newest addition Trevor Carlin said, “Robert has always been a very well liked driver at Carlin and it was great to watch him in action in GP3 last year. His race craft and talent has matured even further since we last worked together and we’re very excited to have him in our World Series team this year. We had a fantastic season last year with a tough fight to win the drivers’ championship. Not only do we want to repeat that in 2011, but we’re also aiming for the teams’ championship. With Robert and Jean-Eric I think we have a fantastic package to challenge for both titles this season.”
Wickens and Vergne will make their first official appearance together as Carlin team mates at the first FR3.5 test of the season at Motorland in Spain from 8 – 9 March, which will also host the season opener from April 15 – 16.