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Deletraz, de Vries, Merhi in New Seats For Belgium

Fitting into new surroundings will be a theme of the Belgian Formula 2 round as three drivers find themselves with different teams.

Monaco Sprint winner Nyck de Vries moves to Racing Engineering to partner Gustav Malja.

The McLaren junior racer has finished on the podium four times since graduating from GP3 and is in eighth in the drivers’ championship with 72 points.

“Perhaps this move is a surprise in the middle of the season, but I am very excited to join Racing Engineering,” he said. “We have been in touch since 2015, and it is great to finally get the chance to work together as they have a very high level of professionalism and a great track record. I hope we will be able to turn around their momentum and score the successes they have always had.”

Louis Deletraz swaps with the Dutchman, going to Rapax, where Roberto Merhi joins him for the weekend.

Deletraz claimed his only point last time out in Hungary’s feature after a post-race penalty. He has completed all-but-one event, outqualified Malja 4-3, but the Swede outperformed him 8-4 in the 12 races they have both finished and scored 27 more points.

Sergio Canamasas – who has been at the team since moving from Trident for Austria – said on Twitter that he is currently having ‘personal issues’ preventing him from competing.

Merhi previously made his F2 debut in Spain for Campos, having a best result of 12th in the sprint contest.

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De Vries Thankful for “Most Important” Win

Rapax’s Nyck de Vries ended a period of controversial incidents by winning the Monaco sprint race, his first victory in Formula 2.

The McLaren F1 junior driver scored his fifth top-10 finish of the year after incidents with Antonio Fuoco in Spain and the Monte-Carlo track. It could potentially recover any lost momentum or confidence from stewards’ decisions.

Teammate Johnny Cecotto joined him in the top-three for Rapax’s first double podium since the Spanish sprint competition seven years ago. Cecotto defended a group of racers including Gustav Malja, Luca Ghiotto and Artem Markelov for the second, but de Vries impressively made a lead of 9.8 seconds to dominate the event.

The Dutch racer believes it’s important to have his efforts pay off after qualifying in the top-three twice but only scoring four points before the third round. This is the first time in his career that he has won in the opening six races of a year.

He previously had one second-place at the start of his debut Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup and FR 3.5 seasons in 2012 and 2015.

“I am so excited,” he said. “I think this is the most important win of my career. This result rewards us for all our efforts and finally confirms the great potential we had since the beginning of the year. We put everything together and it’s a great satisfaction. It’s the first time we were able to show our pace. Since the start of the season, we’ve shown we had the pace in qualifying but we didn’t manage to turn it into results in races. We were struggling with starts, race pace, pitstops. There were a lot of areas to improve on.”

He is the third GP3 2016 graduate to finish in the top-10 on four of six occasions in 2017 after Drivers’ Championship leader Charles Leclerc and Alexander Albon. The 22-year-old now places 10th in the standings after three rounds with 27 points, 50 behind Leclerc.

De Vries has to keep performances up to prevent pressure for any future F1 drive with his current constructor, sitting behind development driver Nobuharu Matsushita (fifth). He has already beaten Honda junior Nirei Fukuzumi (seventh) by finishing sixth in last year’s GP3 standings.

EMAIL CAMERON AT @cpatersonf1@gmail.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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F2 Open Wheel

Cecotto and de Vries Team Up at Rapax

The final team yet to announce a driver for the new season of Formula 2 racing confirmed their whole line-up before the start of pre-season testing.

Experienced junior formulae driver Johnny Cecotto Jr. is partnering McLaren junior driver Nyck de Vries at Rapax for the 2017 F2 season.

Both drivers have some knowledge of the Italian team after lapping during post-season testing in Abu Dhabi last year. Cecotto took part in all three days, with de Vries alongside him for the final two days.

Cecotto joins the new F2 series after racing in GP2 in some form between 2009 and 2016 and having the record of the driver with the most entries in series history (119). He was one of the final three drivers to stand on a GP2 podium in Abu Dhabi last November, finishing second in the sprint race at the Yas Marina Circuit.

The Venezuelan took part in four races for the team last season, replacing Arthur Pic, after starting his year with six races in the Formula V8 3.5 championship, winning the first race of the second round in Hungary.

Dutchman de Vries moves into the series after spending the 2016 season in GP3, winning twice in the Italian sprint and Abu Dhabi feature races. He finished the season in sixth place in the Drivers’ Championship.

He is one of three drivers currently monitored by McLaren as potential future Formula 1 drivers, being with the team since 2010.

The team’s managing director, Andrea Bergamini, said that the team was desperate to get their drivers secured after seeing their performance in the winter tests.

“We worked hard to make the two deals happen, especially after the great results scored in December’s test in Abu Dhabi,” he said. “In addition to their undisputed driving skills, Johnny and Nyck quickly established good chemistry with the team, laying great foundations on which to build a challenging yet already fascinating 2017 season.”

Current 2017 GP2 Series Grid (TBA = To Be Announced, R = Rookie):

Prema Racing: #1 Charles Leclerc (R), #2 Antonio Fuoco (R)

Racing Engineering: #3 Louis Deletraz, #4 Gustav Malja

Russian Time: #5 Luca Ghiotto, #6 Artem Markelov

ART Grand Prix: #7 Nobuharu Matsushita, #8 Alexander Albon (R)

DAMS: #9 Oliver Rowland, #10 Nicholas Latifi

Campos Racing: #11 Ralph Boschung (R), #12 TBA

MP Motorsport: #14 Sergio Sette Camara (R), #15 Jordan King

Trident: #16 Nabil Jeffri, #17 TBA

Rapax: #18 Nyck de Vries (R), #19 Johnny Cecotto Jr.

Pertamina Arden: #20 Norman Nato, #21 Sean Gelael

EMAIL CAMERON AT @cpatersonf1@gmail.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.