Photo: Malcolm Griffiths/GP3 Media Service
Facu Regalia will race full-time in the GP3 Series this season after signing with triple champions ART Grand Prix.
The 21-year-old Argentinian joins the French squad after finishing fourth in the F3 Open in 2012 with three race wins and seventh in a parallel campaign in Auto GP, both with Campos Racing.
He tested in GP2 at the end of last year with Racing Engineering and iSport International but has settled on a full-time programme in GP3 instead with ART, who have won all three teams’ titles in GP3’s history to-date. He will be teammate to British F3 champion Jack Harvey and one other yet-to-be-announced driver.
Regalia has already clocked up significant mileage in GP3. He first tested for Addax and Status in late 2010 after a three-year stint in Formula BMW Europe. He was back in action for Status 12 months later, when he also tested for ART.
Then in 2012 he added to his commitments in F3 and Auto GP when he entered the Silverstone round with Jenzer, finishing the two races in 14th and 12th. Two rounds later at the Hungaroring and he was back, this time with the Atech team, coming home 18th in both races.
“I’m really happy,” said Regalia, who is managed by Adrian Campos. “The last three months were pretty busy to close this deal. It’s a pleasure to become an official ART Grand Prix driver, because I know that I’ll have a very good package for fighting for the results what we have in sight. It’s fantastic that ART Grand Prix relies on me.
“GP3 is a very important championship, always racing at the same tracks as Formula 1. Another great novelty is the new car with new aerodynamic kit, more power, new brakes, so this challenge is even greater. I’m looking forward to drive the new GP3/13 at Estoril next week, and I was told this car is quite similar to the first-generation GP2 car.”
Team boss Frederic Vasseur added: “ART Grand Prix has closely followed the evolution of Facu including his performances during GP2 testing. His GP3 debut during the 2012 season was by nature very complicated, but he was instantly knocking on the door of the top 10. This in itself is a sign of quality that never fails to impress.
“Moreover, Facu is an intelligent and talented young man who is also very mature for his age. He will fit in well with ART Grand Prix and in complete harmony with the team’s 2013 GP3 driver line up.”
By Peter Allen
With the backing of his father’s clothing company Varlion that sponsored HRT last season and having competed in three different championships last year, it was hard to imagine Facu Regalia being anywhere other than on the GP2 grid in 2013, particularly after he turned out for two different teams in post-season testing.
According to comments by Regalia to the Argentinian media though, he couldn’t raise the budget – which is a sign of how obscenely expensive GP2 is. He hadn’t yet done enough on-track to deserve a GP2 seat, so the fact he has had to settle for GP3 is largely a good thing – except his failure to make it to GP2 may just leave a seat open for a worse prospect.
To quit with the negativity for a moment, his strong end to the F3 Open season bodes well for his assault on GP3, where he has the perfect tools for the job in the form of a seat with ART. In the grand scheme of ART’s GP3 drivers he will at least do better than Pedro Nunes but it’s hard to imagine him finishing up in the overall top six like all three of the team’s drivers did last year.
We’ll learn soon who ART’s third driver will be – but it’s worth noting that Regalia and Harvey have taken car numbers 2 and 3 respectively, suggesting that 1 has been left open for an experienced GP3 campaigner. It’s entirely possible that ART have taken Regalia’s sponsorship money to cover a cut-price deal for the under-funded Kevin Ceccon. The Italian convincingly topped the timesheets with Arden in post-season testing at Jerez and it’s hard to imagine ART didn’t immediately wave a contract in his face as they look to continue their 100% in the teams’ championship.