ART Grand Prix –a factory of racing champions
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
From single-seaters to touring car races
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 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.
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.