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We sat down with PREMA Racing’s Team Principal René Rosin to discuss a stellar first season in GP2 Series for the Italian squad.

GP2 Series: PREMA Racing have become GP2 Series team champions on their first season. Did you expect this?

René Rosin: We were expecting to be competitive because last year during the post season tests at Yas Marina, we were immediately at the top. But then, day by day, month after month, this became more realistic. This title became our target and it was also made possible thanks to the drivers we had. Still, it’s not been easy: we made some mistakes; our drivers made some mistakes as well. But in the end, everything went pretty well… We’ve even had a great battle inside our team with Pierre and Giovinazzi fighting for the title.

GP2 Series: Speaking about your line-up, you chose one driver with a little over one season experience, and a rookie. What was the reason behind this choice?

René: First of all, we decided to sign Pierre just after the post-season tests last year. He was highly motivated and fully focused to try and achieve the best result possible with us. He worked really hard. As for Antonio, it was more of a last minute deal: our target was to finalise our line up by the first week of January. While we were talking with other drivers, Antonio came to us and as soon as I saw his name, I knew we had to take him on board. I’ve known him since Formula 3. I always knew that he was extremely talented. Between him and Pierre, I knew we had almost the perfect mix between experience and a rookie. They started to work really hard together. Obviously, they are not friends on the track, but one hour after a session or a race, they sit down and work together. For sure, this is also part of our success.

GP2 Series: How do you manage having an intra-team battle for the title?

René: Of course, it means a bit more pressure for us, but in the end, there is no team order. They both know that they need to be fair to each other on track. As I said, they worked really hard together and it’s truly a big advantage we had compared to some other teams maybe. Obviously, in the last round, with such a small gap in the standings between the two of them, it was more a matter of making sure they kept calm…

GP2 Series: What’s been the highest point of the season for PREMA?

René: I would say the pole position in Barcelona. To achieve this on the first race weekend was something incredible. I would also say when we did 1-2 in Baku. That was extraordinary. On the first lap of the sprint race, we were at the back of the field. Then, let’s be honest, we were lucky… I would then add Silverstone Feature Race: it was the first win for Pierre after a long time. And it was also another  1-2 for the team…

GP2 Series: Any low points?

René: Obviously, Monaco was very disappointing. We had high expectations before getting there. But the drivers made some mistakes, and the team as well. It compromised the overall result. If I had to name another low point, I would say Spielberg: we were 1 and 2 in the Feature Race, but then Pierre span when it started to rain, and then Antonio got a technical issue…

GP2 Series: Will you carry over any lesson from this season to the next?

René: The most important lesson is the team work. You can have the best engineers and the best drivers, the best mechanics for the pit stops, if the team doesn’t work properly together, you will not achieve anything. So, the most important thing is that since Monday after the final round of the 2016 season, we have been working again from zero for 2017. We have no expectation except for our team to work hard together and build everything up for next season. It will be difficult. The competition will be tough, but that’s the way it is. GP2 is the strongest category after Formula One so it’s never easy. Everyone is continuously pushing to get even better. We cannot stop.

GP2 Series: You have already announced your 2017 line up which will be made of two rookies: 2016 GP3 Series Champion Charles Leclerc and GP3 race winner Antonio Fuoco. As reigning champions, you will be the team to beat. Is that extra pressure?

René: Basically, PREMA has always worked with young drivers or drivers with not much experience. In 2016, we had Pierre, but he was also a driver with only one year experience in GP2. I don’t feel that we will have extra pressure except maybe because we will be in red with two drivers from the Ferrari Drivers Academy. That means that everybody will look at us even more closely. But as I said to the drivers during our first meeting: the most important thing will be to be working. We need to do what we have to do. If we want to win, we need to bottle the pressure. If we want to be the best, we need to be able to fight against the others. That’s the only thing to do.

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Racing Engineering announced that Louis Delétraz will be driving alongside Gustav Malja for the 2017 GP2 Series. The 19-year-old Swiss will be driving for the Spanish team for his first full season in GP2.

Louis started racing karts in his native Switzerland in 2008 before switching to single-seaters four years later when he competed in the final round of the Formula BMW Talent Cup. In the following year, 2013 aged just sixteen, he moved up to Formula Renault 2.0 NEC and in his second year in this class he showed his future potential when he finished as runner-up in the 2014 series after winning at Monza and taking four other podium finishes.

In 2015 Louis completed a third year in Formula Renault 2.0 NEC where he dominated the series by taking nine wins in sixteen races to win the championship. He also raced in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 and he finished runner-up with three wins in a very hard fought season. He then graduated to the Formula Renault 3.5 Series competing in just one race but in 2016 he raced in the, now renamed, Formula V8 3.5 Series where he took a dominant victory in the ‘Rookie of the Year’ class and wins at Alcañiz and Paul Ricard together with seven other podium places saw him finish the year as runner-up in the Championship.

Louis made his GP2 debut in the final round of the 2016 Series at Abu Dhabi. He then joined with Racing Engineering for the three days of post-season testing at Abu Dhabi, he quickly adapted to the team setting some very quick laps including being second fastest on the morning of the final session.

Alfonso de Orleáns-Borbón, President of Racing Engineering: We are pleased to announce that Louis is joining Racing Engineering for the 2017 season. Having closely followed his steps since his early years in karting, we are convinced that although 2017 will be his rookie season in GP2, he will quickly adapt to the championship. We first evaluated Louis on our simulator in 2015 and were in close contact with him during the 2016 season to have insight with his progress as a racing driver. Having tested him in Abu Dhabi during the post-season testing earlier this month, it has allowed us to see how much he was able to learn and mature during the last year, which is very promising keeping in mind that he is only 19 years old. The Swiss drivers we worked with in the past have all achieved great success, like Sébastien Buemi, Neel Jani and our 2013 GP2 champion, Fabio Leimer. We hope to prolong this connection with Louis."

Louis Delétraz:"GP2 is where I want to be in 2017 since after the strong season in Formula V8, it's the natural next step in my career. It's the final category before reaching Formula One and getting to F1 is my primary goal. Racing Engineering are a good team and have produced some top results during the last five years. For me, there's no better option and I am very happy with the choice. As a rookie, I'll have much to learn during the next season. We all know that the most difficult point in GP2 is learning the Pirelli tyres, so it's very important to gave a good team behind you so they can help you as a driver and work well together. To get the deal sorted before the 2017 season even begins is excellent news because it allows us all to form a good partnership and to make sure that we all know what we're doing. We worked very well together during the three-day test in Abu Dhabi, so I really think we can get some good results in 2017."