Photo: GP2 Media Service
Rene Binder is staying with the Lazarus team for his first full season of GP2.
After three unspectacular years in German F3, the Austrian driver joined Lazarus for the final six races of the 2012 campaign with the Italian squad and impressed with best result of 13th in the Monza sprint race. He remained with the team for post-season testing, finishing the final session at Jerez in a fine third position. After also spending a day with Racing Engineering, he has signed with Lazarus for the coming season.
?I am sure we have made the right decision to sign for Venezuela GP Lazarus so I want to thank Tancredi Pagiaro and all our partners who have made that step possible,? said Binder, whose uncle Hans raced in Formula 1 at the end of the 1970s.
?The GP2 Series will be very competitive this year with some strong drivers arriving from other junior categories but I want to fully concentrate on my own preparations and get the maximum from the car and, of course, from the tyres. This will be my first full season and I cannot wait for the pre-season tests to get underway.?
Team Principal Tancredi Pagiaro added: ?I?ve always appreciated Rene?s driving style. Starting from his debut in Spa he drove the car without taking unnecessary risks, always listening to all our suggestions and improving day by day.
?In Barcelona and Jerez it was clear to me that Rene has the talent and the intelligence to drive a car as demanding as that of GP2. His ability to learn together with his desire to emerge and his qualities, the permit will take off more than a satisfaction in the league and that?s why we cannot wait to start the new season together.
?It will be difficult for him to learn circuits such us Kuala Lumpur, Bahrain, Montecarlo or Abu Dhabi in only 7 or 8 laps during free practice, but we will working together and we will do our best for Rene.?
By Peter Allen
Even if he was an improvement on Giancarlo Serenelli, Binder did nothing in three years of German F3 to show he deserved a chance at GP2 level. He finished sixth in the series last year with the leading Van Amersfoort outfit, while rookie teammate Lucas Auer was runner-up in what was only his second year of car racing.
But after staying out of trouble at Spa, he impressed at Monza by qualifying a reasonable 21st of 26 drivers and racing to 17th place in the feature race before climbing to 13th in the sprint, ahead of James Calado and on the tail of the queue formed behind fourth-placed Stefano Coletti. Further testing appearances confirmed he’s by no means out of his depth. However, is that just a demonstration of the way things have gone in GP2 lately?
As a side note, it’s interesting to note that amongst Binder’s personal sponsors is Formtech, the company run by a certain Franz Hilmer whose Hilmer Motorsport operation has been granted a GP2 entry for this year in place of Ocean. It’s a surprise therefore to see Binder sign with a rival team, and it remains something of a mystery who will drive Hilmer’s cars. Perhaps former Ocean driver (and former German) Kevin Mirocha?