The Force India F1 Team today announced its driver line-up for the young driver test on 16 and 17 November 2010 at the Yas Marina circuit, Abu Dhabi. Dutchman Yelmer Buurman and Portuguese Antonio Felix da Costa will share driving duties of the VJM03 with test and reserve driver Paul di Resta.
For Yelmer and Antonio this will be their first taste of an F1 car and an opportunity to gain experience of top flight motorsport. Twenty-three year old Yelmer has competed in the Superleague Formula, in which he finished second overall in 2008, and in the GP2 Winter Series with Trust Team Arden as team-mate of Sebastien Buemi, stepping onto the podium several times. He started his racing career in the German-based Formula Konig series in 2002 before moving to compete in Formula Renault championships across Europe from 2003 to 2005. He secured third position in the 2003 Formula Renault 2000 UK Winter Championship and also the 2004 Renault 2000 series in his native Holland. In 2005 Yelmer made the step to British F3, participating in two races before a full championship campaign in 2006. That same year he also raced in the Macau Grand Prix, finishing eighth. After a handful of F3 Euroseries races in 2006 Yelmer contested the championship in 2007, before graduating to GP2 and the Superleague Formula in 2008 and 2009 where he did several races with Ocean, building a strong relationship with Tiago Monteiro.
Nineteen-year old Antonio will be the youngest Portuguese driver ever to drive a Formula 1 car when he steps into the VJM03. He started his racing career in karts aged nine, winning the South Portuguese Championship in 2003. In 2006 he won the Portuguese Championship and finished as runner-up in the World Series Karting Championship and third in the Italian Open Masters. In 2007 Antonio became an official factory driver for the Italian Tony Kart team before moving into single seaters in 2008, competing in both the Formula Renault Eurocup and Northern European championships. He finished as runner-up in the NEC championship, and as a prize, tested a Formula Renault 3.5 Series car. He also served as a rookie driver for A1 Team Portugal. The following year Antonio dominated the NEC field before stepping up to compete in the F3 Euroseries in 2010, where we became rookie champion.
Otmar Szafnauer, chief operating officer of Force India, commented, ‘We are pleased to be able to offer Yelmer and Antonio the opportunity to test an F1 car, which they both feel will be brilliant exposure and experience at this early stage in their career. Paul will set the benchmark times so they can assess their own performance and see how to work within a top level team.’
Yelmer added, ‘I am unbelievably happy with this chance. It is an honour to be the next Dutch racing driver to get the chance to test an excellent F1 car. F1 remains my ultimate goal and testing for such a good team like Force India F1 Team is a dream come true. I met the team last week for a simulator session learning the circuit and the seat fitting. There is a fantastic atmosphere and I felt immediately at home. I am well prepared and I will do my very best to show that I am more than quick enough for F1. I would like to thank my loyal sponsors Flyweeze.com, Jongert Luxury Yachts, HSF Logistics, Otto Workforce, and Eurotech Group for their support of my career so far. And I like to thank my management GR8industries.com for facilitating this unique opportunity. I cannot wait to join the team within a few days.’
Antonio commented, ‘Now I can say that I will drive for the Force India F1 Team in this test, it will be a memorable day in my career and I hope the first of many more at the wheel of a Formula 1 car. Force India is a fierce and very consistent team, with lots of ambition, that has been evolving throughout the last few years, so I expect to have a good performance and be able to show my potential. I’ve just been in England at Force India headquarters in Silverstone for a first contact with the team and all their staff, I’ve moulded my seat and I had the opportunity to work on the simulator on a first contact with the Yas Marina racetrack. I would like to thank Force India for this opportunity and also to Tiago Monteiro and Sowhat Management, who have been tireless while making a very professional support to my career.’