Italian F1 veterans sign up to join new GP Masters series
Riccardo Patrese, the most prolific starter in the history of Formula One, will break an eight-year absence from the race track when he takes part in the inaugural Grand Prix Masters event in Kyalami in November. The Italian, who started 255 grand prix from 1977 to ’93, is among the second draft of F1 veterans to sign up for the series that aims to replicate the success of the seniors tours in golf and tennis.
Patrese, who hasn’t raced since driving a TWR Nissan in the 1997 Le Mans 24 Hours, was revealed early last month as a GPM driver for the inaugural event, which takes place on November 13, and a short series of races in 2006.
Fellow countryman Andrea de Cesaris, who has since been inactive in motorsport since the end of his F1 career in 1994, was confirmed at the same time. Patrese and de Cesaris were team-mates in grand prix racing at Brabham in 1987.
Patrese said: “I think this is a nice idea, it will be good to drive again after so many years away.
“I’m looking forward to meeting up with some of my old rivals and talking about the old days, with a little bit of competition thrown in.”
Patrese and de Cesaris will join the 1980 World Champion Alan Jones, René Arnoux, Stefan Johansson, Jan Lammers and Christian Danner on the GPM grid. Alain Prost and Emerson Fittipaldi have also agreed to take part, but have yet to sign contracts.
Up to 16 F1 veterans will take to the grid at Kyalami in a field of 600bhp single-seaters based on the final Champ Car chassis to come out of Reynard Racing Cars prior to its demise. The design, which began life as the 981, is being reworked by a group of ex-Reynard employees at Delta Motorsport and will be powered by a 3.5-litre Nicholson-McLaren V8 based on the highly successful Cosworth XB Champ Car engine.
Poulter insisted that the racers would not be recycled Champ Cars, but all-new chassis built specifically for the GPM series.
Poulter stressed that the Champ Car was only the “starting point” for the Masters car. “What is clear is that we are not using a straightforward Champ Car,” he said.