The Man from Monte Carlo – Stefano Coletti

2013 is quickly become the breakout year for Monégasque driver Stefano Coletti, who currently leads the GP2 series championship for his Rapax team.  But where has this form come from?  Throughout his single-seater career, which began back in 2005, he had been mid-pack at best, so what has changed to see him becoming a regular race winner & podium visitor?

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He started out very low-key in Formula BMW, scoring only 13 points on his way to a lowly 18th place finish in his debut season.  Staying in the series, he won his first single-seater race the following season, but still finished only 7th.  He also raced for the first time in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 series, but was unclassified in the final standings without troubling the points.

He continued in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 in 2007, winning 1 race and finishing 4th in the championship, a result he’s never bettered since.  In the same season, he competed in the Italian Formula Renault 2.0 series, winning twice but only finishing 10th in the points table.  He switched to the Formula 3 Euro Series in 2008 but endured a mightly disappointing campaign, scoring only 6.5 points on a run to 20th in the championship.

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He improved a little in the series in 2009, winning once, and made his debut in both the Formula Renault 3.5 series (with Prema Powerteam) and in the GP2 series (with Durango).  2010 saw his run a dual campaign in both Formula Renault 3.5 (with Comtec Racing) and in the GP3 series (with Tech 1 Racing).  He didn’t win races in either, but scored multiple podium finishes.  He finished 6th in FR3.5 & 9th in GP3.  He also ran a couple of Auto GP races with the Charouz-Gravity team.

He returned to the GP2 series in 2011 with Trident Racing, first off in the GP2 Asia series, and then the main series.  In the four races of the GP2 Asia series, he won once and finished 4th in the standings.  He won twice throughout the main season, finishing 11th in the final standings.  2012 was a winless won for the Monaco man, switching from Scuderia Coloni to Rapax mid-season.

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So that brings us to 2013.  As you can see by his results of previous years, you couldn’t imagine that he’d be winning races on a regular basis, and therefore many didn’t even think of him as a championship favourite pre-season.  But from somewhere he has found race-winning and podium challenging form.  Perhaps the switch to Rapax and the continuation with them into 2013 helped, perhaps he finally believes in himself & his abilities.  Whatever it was that helped him click, it worked a treat.

Tyre issues caused him to lose out to Fabio Leimer in the opening race of the season in Malaysia, though he fought back in the sprint race to win.  He has subsequently won twice more and finished on the podium on two other occasions and leads the championship by 24 points after 8 races.  He also became the first winner of a race in Monaco by a Monégasque driver since Louis Chiron in 1931.

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Can he keep this form, that is the question, but to see him smile after good performances is nice to see.  Can he make it to Formula 1?  That’s yet to be seen, but if he wins the GP2 Series this season, F1 teams will HAVE to look at him.  He’s already had a run in a Toro Rosso in the Young Driver’s test.  Olivier Beretta was the last Monégasque driver to race in F1 in 1994, so one is long overdue from the principality.

Its always nice when someone comes out of the blue and surprises, and Coletti has been doing that all season.  Silverstone is the next venue for the GP2 series, can he keep up his championship charge? Only time will tell.

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