GP2 championship leader Russian Time has completed a deal to join the GP3 Series grid from 2014. The squad has bought Bamboo Engineering’s GP3 operation and will make its debut in post-season testing in Abu Dhabi in November.
The official announcement was made during this weekend’s Formula Sochi racing show at the future Russian Grand Prix venue. Team principal Igor Mazepa said adding a squad in GP2’s sister series would help the team prepare young drivers for Formula 1.
“I’m glad to announce the expansion of our program to the GP3 Series,” he said. “It is a case when one plus one gives three. Running two teams gives us much more than simply five cars in the F1 support paddock, as now we have a proper platform for preparing young Russian drivers for Formula 1.
“It was our goal for a long time and I’m really grateful to GP3 bosses and Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, who helped Russian Time to implement its plans.”
The Russian team was formed shortly before the start of the GP2 season, when Mazepa bought iSport’s license and started a new program with technical support from Motopark Academy’s Timo Rumpfkeil.
Heading into November’s Abu Dhabi season finale, Russian Time leads the teams’ championship by 17 points and driver Sam Bird is challenging Fabio Leimer for the drivers’ title, having won five races. Mazepa said Russian Time’s GP3 program also had high targets.
“We have already demonstrated that you can place ambitious targets in front of us and we know how to reach them,” he said. “Our goal for next season is to the bring Russian flag high in the grand prix paddock.”
Russian Time also confirmed its plans to field at least one driver from its home nation in 2014, though it did not specify contenders or which championship they would run in.