GP3 Series racer Niko Kari will make his FIA Formula 2 Championship debut with MP Motorsport at this weekend’s round at Sochi and for the remainder of the season.
The Finnish driver will replace Ralph Boschung, who has shown flashes of speed in his second year of F2 racing while also suffering from a myriad of reliability issues with the new-for-2018 spec Dallara chassis.
The Dutch outfit had previously severed ties with ex-F1 driver Roberto Merhi following ongoing disputes over the team’s patchy qualifying pace – it replaced the Spaniard with its GP3 driver Dorian Boccolacci – and now it will promote another of its GP3 drivers in the form of Kari.
“I’m really happy that MP has had the confidence to promote me to their Formula 2 team,” said Kari.
“The new F2 cars have looked fantastic this season, and I can’t wait to step into one of them myself. I’m also looking forward to working with Dorian again, with whom I had a great working relationship during our time as GP3 teammates.”
Kari won his first season of open-wheel racing in 2015 and was swiftly signed to Red Bull’s academy program. He moved to the FIA European Formula 3 Championship with Arden International and despite beating Lance Stroll to claim victory at Imola he was dropped by Red Bull at the end of the season.
He remained with Arden and was promoted to its GP3 Series line-up, claiming one victory and a further podium to finish tenth in the Drivers’ Championship standings. He moved to MP Motorsport’s team this year but has only managed three points’ finishes.
“Niko has been a bit unlucky in his second GP3 season with us,” MP Motorsport team boss Sander Doorsman explained.
“But he has always shown his raw pace. We are confident that he will quickly convert that pace into results in the final few Formula 2 races of the season.”
|WHO IS NIKO KARI?|
|Full Name||Niko Kari|
|Born||6 October 1999, Hyvinkää (FIN)|
|2015||SMP Formula 4 Championship. Koiranen GP. 21 races, 7 wins, 19 podiums, 1st overall.|
|2016||FIA European Formula 3 Championship. Motopark. 30 races, 1 win, 5 podiums, 10th overall.
Masters of Formula 3. Motopark. 2nd overall.
GP3 Series. Koiranen GP. 2 races, 26th overall.
|2017||GP3 Series. Arden International. 15 races, 1 win, 2 podiums, 10th overall.|
|2018||GP3 Series. MP Motorsport. 14 races, 16th overall*|
* Denotes season in progress
Images via GP3 Series