Could Soucek be headed for ART?

Spanish media reports today that Virgin reserve driver Andy Soucek is negotiating an early end to his contract with Richard Branson’s team.  Soucek claims that his contract included some Friday outings, and that the team will not honor this clause during what’s left of the 2010 F1 season.

Though Soucek is well-known in GP2 circles to be short of significant budgets, maybe his new-found media attention as a result of his F1 presence has landed him some cash to keep his racing career moving forward.  Soucek is a very keen and smart communicator, and has leveraged his short-lived F1 fame to the max, with a strong PR effort that has even landed him commentator duties during F1 races in Spanish TV’s La Sexta.

Since the article cites possible GP2 drives, this could make sense, as Andy can surely scrap together enough budget for the 3 races left this season, probably hoping to raise his game and potentially land some sort of role in the 2011 F1 season.  Open seats now include mainly the injured Kral (Super Nova), Bianchi (ART) and maybe Tung (DAMS).  Also, the second Arden seat held by Rodolfo Gonzalez is probably up for grabs as well.

Soucek has driven for Super Nova before, but his true “opportunity” would be with ART, albeit for Spa and Monza only.  Though Bianchi is rumored to be attempting a comeback for Spa, both the Belgian track and Monza are both quite dangerous.  Also, piecing together Nicolas Todt’s statement on Pastor Maldonado’s F1 future, it is easy to read in-between the lines that Bianchi still has another GP2 season ahead of him next year.

I hadn’t put Soucek on my list of ART candidates… but just maybe, the seat could already be his.

Who will sub for Jules Bianchi?

Though some elite sports figures (for example, Valentino Rossi) recover miraculously ahead of schedule, I understand Jules Bianchi will most likely miss both Spa and Monza, with a possible final appearance at Abu Dhabi if he’s fit enough to race the GP2 Dallara.

This opens up a prime seat at ART, albeit for 2 races, and the rumor mill is already hard at work putting names to that #1 red and white car.

Bear in mind that in the almost 6 years of GP2 history, ART has only changed drivers in 2 seasons.  The first was in 2007, when a Red Bull-sponsored Ammermuller was injured and eventually replaced by Mikhail Aleshin, only to see Sebastien Buemi step in for the rest of the season.  Then, in 2008, a seriously unhappy Luca Filippi dumped ART due to the preferential treatment granted to Romain Grosjean, with Sakon Yamamoto filling in.  Apart from these, ART has been notably stable in its driver pairings. Read more of this post

ART confirms Nico’s replacement

In a bit of news expected by all of us, ART has confirmed Jules Bianchi as the “replacement” for GP2 champion Nico Hulkenberg.    Not much news there, as you all know, since Bianchi has been gradually climbing up the ladder from karting, Formula Renault and F3 to his place as a future F1 driver and potentially front-runner. Read more of this post

Confirmed Jerez 3-day test list

List as published by the Jerez circuit.  Durango with only 1 driver each day (thanks Hayley!).  Full list:@Jerez Day1@Jerez Day2@Jerez Day3

Updated: GP2 Jerez Test- Driver lineup

Keeping this post open for the comments…. See full confirmed Jerez list in post above.  Thanks to all for your inputs!  We’ll do it all over again in a month for the Paul Ricard GP2 Main test.  At the end, apparently no Durango.