Felipe Nasr has been given the reserve driver role at Williams for this season, and will appear in five first free practice sessions. Two of which he has already completed.
He is hoping to graduate to a race seat in F1 next season, and it will not be a surprise if he does, as he has been impressive ever since coming to Europe to compete in the lower formulas.
Felipe first became known on the European racing scene when he drove in the Formula BMW series that was on the Formula 1 support package in 2009. In a season he dominated, he took the championship title by 104 points.
He finished 14 of the 16 races in the top two, claiming five victories. The British round at Silverstone was the only occasion he failed to make the podium, finishing eighth in both races. The second race showed just how good he was though.
A grid penalty left him starting from the back, and he proceeded to slice through the field, passing four cars in one move at the abbey chicane. This race demonstrated the brilliant race craft of the young Brazilian.
The next season Felipe moved to British Formula 3. He signed to drive for Raikkonen Robertson Racing, and in a championship usually dominated by Carlin and Fortec drivers, Nasr managed a creditable fifth position in the championship. He took his first Formula 3 victory in the third race at Rockingham.
For 2011 Felipe moved to Carlin to contest his second season in British F3. He dominated the championship in a similar fashion to his 2009 Formula BMW title win. He won the championship by 81 points from Carlin teammate and current McLaren driver Kevin Magnussen.
Looking at what Magnussen has achieved and how well he has started his F1 career this adds even more weight to Nasr’s achievement. Felipe achieved 15 podium finishes, eight of them victories.
He had the title wrapped up with two rounds to spare. It was possible to see some of his trademark attributes that he has taken with him into GP2 from this season. He is renowned for his late breaking passing moves, jinking one way then the other to fool the driver ahead, and combining a late lunge with perfectly timed heavy braking.
He also showed his wet weather prowess, dominating at Brands Hatch in an absolute downpour to win by over 30 seconds. His lines in the wet visibly different to the rest of the field, he has an innate ability to find the most grip in these conditions, whilst always looking in complete control.
Two wins at Monza, a win at the Nurburgring and a podium at Silverstone also showed he was capable of delivering on circuits used in F1.
2012 saw Felipe move up to the GP2 series, seen as the step below F1, and racing on the same tracks at F1 race meetings, it is often the final step for drivers before making it to F1. He joined DAMS, and helped them to the constructor’s championship.
Teammate Davide Valsecchi won the drivers title. Felipe finished in 10th place, the second highest rookie in the championship. He managed four podiums, a second place at Spa, third at Silverstone, Sepang, and in Germany.
He again showed that he has no problems overtaking, often managing to pass cars quickly after catching them, and he raced cleanly throughout the season.
For his second season in GP2 he moved to Carlin, who he new well from his F3 days. With a seasons experience in the category he put together a title charge. He started the season brilliantly, not finishing outside the first four for the first eight races.
He was involved in a four-way battle for the title until the second to last round of the season. He ended up finishing fourth. Three retirements, all coming in the first race of that round meant he started at the back for the second sprint race of the weekend.
These derailed his chances, especially at Monza where he was running second before his engine blew, resulting in no points at that round, while his rivals took advantage. This dropped him from second in the standings to fourth, with only two rounds remaining.
Some questionable tactical calls from Carlin didn’t help at times, with other teams making better use of tyre strategy. However this was a positive season for Felipe, the highest placed Carlin driver.
He made some brilliant passing moves, and had also developed his defensive driving, now one of his strongest attributes. He showed on numerous occasions that he could hold of challengers on better tyres by positioning his car perfectly.
Another trademark he now has from his experience of the category is his late race charges, he is adept at controlling tyre wear, and manages to conserve his tyres for a late race push, often after having run longer stints on the option tyre than other runners. This is a very good attribute for Formula 1.
Felipe Nasr continues with Carlin in GP2 for 2014 alongside his commitments with Williams. He will be looking to take the title this year, and don’t be surprised to see him racing in Formula 1 next season. Look out for Felipe Nasr!
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