The 17-year-old from Sao Paulo impressed the team, which has a long and impressive reputation for nurturing South American racing talent, in testing at the end of last year. “From his first run at Pembrey with us in October he demonstrated exactly the correct work ethic and we have high expectations for the coming season,” says team owner Anthony Hieatt.
“Pipo has undertaken more than 2000km of testing with us over the winter and has shown strong pace everywhere. We were so impressed with him we had no hesitation in entering him for the Korean F3 race due to be held last November. Sadly the event was cancelled but he continued his test programme at Jerez and Valencia in December and was pretty convincing at both tests – especially Valencia, where we could measure him against established British Formula 3 drivers who also attended the test.”
Pipo – full name Luis Felipe Derani – moved to Europe in 2009 after four seasons of success in Brazilian karting. He was a podium finisher in the North European Formula Renault series in ’09 and gained Formula 3 experience last year in the German domestic championship.
“I’m delighted to be part of the Double R team,” said Derani. “In the short time we have been together I felt really comfortable with the team, and we get along very well. They are really competent in their work, and they believe in my potential. British Formula 3 has always been the strongest series for young drivers. With the three-race format and with events outside Britain, at tracks on which Formula 1 also races, it’s a tough challenge. As the series that has developed so many drivers for Formula 1, it is the most known Formula 3 series by the public and the media. This is a very competitive series, disputed by a strong group of drivers, as we are a generation that has raced together since our kart days, I already know some of the drivers really well.
“I had a tough year in 2010 and for many reasons I didn’t show my potential. Since the early tests with Double R, the team could already see what I am capable of. Of course I have a lot to learn, and my learning curve will be steep because this will be only my third year racing single seaters. My aim is to show my true potential, and this time I am pretty sure that I will have the conditions to do so. I really believe Double R team and I will work together at a high level to have a strong season.”
Double R Racing is the team behind Mike Conway’s 2006 British Formula 3 Championship-winning performance and has a long and successful association with a number of South American drivers, including the latest Brazilian to graduate to Formula 1, Bruno Senna.
Pipo will return to the cockpit of his new Mercedes-powered Dallara following the mid-February conclusion of the winter testing moratorium. Double R Racing is expected soon to announce the identities of Derani’s team-mates.