ART Grand Prix –a factory of racing champions

  • ART Grand Prix 2016

ART Grand Prix is a French racing team that competes in the various single-seater series across the world. The team won numerous titles with some of the current world’s best drivers, such as Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg, Nico Hulkenberg, Romain Grosjean, Valtteri Bottas and many others.

Frederic Vasseur, 1996 ASM, 2005 ART Grand Prix

Frederic Vasseur is the man who created ASM team in 1996

Frederic Vasseur founded the team in 1996

The origins of ART Grand Prix team was in the ASM team, founded in 1996 by Frederic Vasseur. The team is based in Villeneuve-La-Guyard in France. ASM debuted in the French Formula 3 championship in 1997 and finished in the top 3. The team took the title one year later and David Saelens became their first champion.

In the following years, the team competed in the French and European Formula Renault, and also in the French F3 championship, with Tristan Gommendy winning the F3 title in 2002. ASM became known outside France after two victories in the non-championship F3 Grand Prix races in Macau and Korea.

The most successful team in the F3 Euro Series

In 2003, the German and French F3 championships merged to the F3 Euro Series. From 2004 to 2009 the team won six consecutive drivers’ titles, adding the teams’ title five times in a row from 2005 to 2009.

The F3 Euro Series champions, who drove for the team, were Jamie Green (2004), Lewis Hamilton (2005), Paul di Resta (2006), Romain Grosjean (2007), Nico Hulkenberg (2008) and Jules Bianchi (2009).

Frederic Vasseur and Nicolas Todt in 2006

Frederic Vasseur and Nicolas Todt in 2006

ART Grand Prix was born in 2005

In the winter of 2004/2005, the ART Grand Prix team was founded as a collaborative project of Vasseur’s ASM team and Nicolas Todt, the son of Jean Todt, who was the Scuderia Ferrari principal at that time, before he became the FIA president.

Frederic Vasseur and Nicolas Todt agreed that two teams would work together under the same roof and with the same personnel. Vasseur was in charge of the team and the factory on the ground while Todt led the commercial and marketing side of the organization.

2005 GP2 Series champion Nico Rosberg

2005 GP2 Series champion Nico Rosberg

Nico Rosberg and team won the inaugural GP2 Series titles

ART Grand Prix was one of twelve teams which entered the inaugurative 2005 GP2 Series, after a conversion from the previous Formula 3000 Series. The team’s drivers were F3 Euroseries graduates Alexandre Premat and Nico Rosberg. Rosberg became the inaugural GP2 champion, with five wins in 24 races. Premat added two wins and ART Grand Prix won the teams’ title.

ASM team was included also to the inaugural season of the A1 Grand Prix Series, which started in September 2005 and ended in April 2006, as an operational crew for A1 Team Brazil. Nelson Piquet Jr and Christian Fittipaldi finished sixth in the final standings.

2006 Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamiton has won 2006 GP2 Series title

Hamilton was next to win the GP2 title

In the 2006 GP2 Series season, Premat was joined in the team by Lewis Hamilton, who dominated a year earlier in the F3 Euroseries, taking the title with no less than five wins. Premat was again the perfect teammate, he finished third and the team again snatched the title.

In 2007, two major projects followed: ASM and ART Grand Prix merged completely into one team and Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa joined the team with fresh capital. On the racing field, the results were far from satisfactory; the team and the leading driver Lucas di Grassi finished second in the championship. The other drivers were Michael Ammermuller, Mikhail Aleshin, and Sebastien Buemi.

Failure in the GP2, success in the GP2 Asian Series

With a completely new driver line-up in the 2008 GP2 Series season, featuring Romain Grosjean and Luca Filippi, the team finished fifth in the championship. After five races Filippi was replaced with Sakon Yamamoto. Grosjean scored two wins and finished fourth in the final standings.

A little comfort was a double title for the team and Grosjean in the GP2 Asia Series, which consisted of 10 races. Grosjean’s teammate was Stephen Yelley, but he scored no points.

2009 GP2 championNico Hulkenberg

2009 GP2 championNico Hulkenberg

One more Nico was ART’s champion

In 2009, ART Grand Prix was again on the top of the GP2 Series. The team won the third title in five years, with Nico Hulkenberg adding the drivers’ title and Pastor Maldonado finishing sixth in the standings.

Two rookies from the F3 Euro Series joined the team for the 2010 GP2 Series season – Jules Bianchi and Sam Bird. They finished third (Bianchi) and fifth (Bird) in the championship, with ART GP finishing in third place.

Inaugural GP3 Series title for the team and Esteban Gutierrez

The team was more successful in the inaugural GP3 Series season, won by Esteban Gutierrez. His teammates were Alexander Rossi and Pedro Nunes, who contributed to team’s GP3 title.

In August 2010, a new business partner joined ART Grand Prix. That was Rafael Sportelli, a shareholder of the Brazilian automotive parts AETHRA. A few weeks later, ART Grand Prix signed an agreement with Lotus cars to form Lotus ART team for the GP2 and GP3 Series. The 2010 season was the last in Formula 3 competition, as the team wanted to focus just to GP2/GP3.

Valtteri Bottas, 2011 GP3 Series champion

Valtteri Bottas is one of ART’s champions

Lotus as a partner for 2011 and 2012

For 2011 season, Gutierrez joined Bianchi in the GP2 Series line-up. The results were quite disappointing, Bianchi finished 3rd, Gutierrez 13th, and the team was 5th in the final standings.

In the same time, Valtteri Bottas and James Calado finished first and second in the GP3 Series and led Lotus ART to the second consecutive title. The third car was shared by Pedro Nunes and Richie Stanaway.

Third GP3 triumph in a row

In the season 2012, Lotus ART was again left without a title in the GP2 Series. Esteban Gutierrez and James Calado finished third and fifth, while the team missed first place by six points.The youngsters in the GP3 Series once again did better, winning the third consecutive title for the team. The leading driver Daniel Abt finished second, supported by his teammates  Conor Daly and Aaro Vainio.

In 2014, ART Grand Prix lost all titles, even in the GP3 Series. The GP3 drivers were Alex Fontana, Dino Zamparelli and Marvin Kirchhöfer, who was the best among three by finishing third. The team finished second behind Carlin. In the GP2 Series, the team finished 3rd whilst rookie Stoffel Vandoorne finished as GP2 runner-up.

2015 GP2 Series champion Stoffel Vandoorne

2015 GP2 Series champion Stoffel Vandoorne

ART Grand Prix swept all titles in 2015

In 2015, ART Grand Prix stormed both GP2 and GP3 Series, winning all the titles. Vandoorne was absolutely dominant GP2 driver, with seven wins in 22 races. Nobuharu Matsushita added one victory to help the team in what proved to be a dominantly victorious season.

In the GP3 Series, Esteban Ocon fought for the title until the last race and managed to win it ahead of Luca Ghiotto. Kirchhöfer and Alfonso Celis Jr. added valuable points to secure teams’ championship title.

Esteban Ocon, ART Grand Prix

After the victorious 2015 GP3 season, Esteban Ocon joined Team ART in DTM

From single-seaters to touring car races

Since 2015 ART Grand Prix was, as a longstanding partner of Mercedes, included to DTM as one of Mercedes’ official factory teams. Team ART ran two cars for Gary Paffett and Lucas Auer.

They finished ninth and 23 in the final standings, with Paffett’s second place at Red Bull Ring as the best result. For 2016 season GP3 champion Esteban Ocon was transferred to DTM, to drive Team ART’s second car alongside Paffett.

ART Junior Team, 2013 Formula Renault Eurocup

ART Junior Team debuted in the 2013 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0

ART Junior Team founded in 2013

From the first days of existence, ART Grand Prix was involved in the Formula Renault 2.0 races. The milestone year was 2013 when ART Grand Prix took over French team R-ace GP and founded the ART Junior team.

They successfully competed in the FR 2.0 Eurocup in the following three seasons, expanding the operations to the Renault Sport Trophy in 2016.

Nobuharu Matsushita, ART Grand Prix, 2016 GP2 Series

Nobuharu Matsushita is the leading driver of ART Grand Prix in the 2016 GP2 Series season

New drivers and new goals in 2016

After lots of ups and downs during nine seasons in premium F1-feeder series, with nine team’s titles (four GP2 and five GP3) and seven drivers’ titles (four GP2 and three GP3), ART Grand Prix entered the 2016 season in the GP2 and GP3 series with a strong driver line-up, planning again to be on the top. In the cockpit of the GP2 car would be Nobuharu Matsushita and Sergey Sirotkin while four places in the GP3 cars are secured for Charles Leclerc, Alex Albon, Nyck de Vries, and Nirei Fukuzumi.

Considering that ART Grand Prix is proven factory of champions, it’s possible that some of those names would appear in the following years on the front pages as the Formula One winners and champions.

Photos: art-grandprix.com, art-juniorteam.com, motorsport.com, gp3series.com,

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