DAMS are delighted to welcome the potent combination of Nicholas Latifi and Oliver Rowland for an assault on the 2017 GP2 championship.
Jean-Paul Driot's Le Mans-based outfit have established themselves as one of the premier teams in the Formula 1 feeder series, winning three drivers' titles, two teams' titles and a total of 25 races since the championship's inception in 2005.
After ranking fifth in the teams' standings last year, taking three race victories, the squad harbours ambitions of returning to the top in 2017, while the two second-year drivers aspire to follow in the footsteps of DAMS hall-of-fame members Romain Grosjean, Davide Valsecchi and Jolyon Palmer.
21-year-old Latifi returns to DAMS after showing promise in his first full season last year.
After stepping up from the Formula Renault 3.5 championship, Latifi marked his first start for the team with a podium finish in Catalunya, adding three further points finishes during the season as he continued to make progress on the tyres knowledge. Another highlight came at Silverstone, where he qualified an excellent third. The Canadian driver will only benefit from the continuity of working with the same engineers for a second season and hinted at his potential by setting the fastest time of all during testing at Abu Dhabi last year.
24-year-old Rowland becomes the third British driver to race for DAMS in GP2, after 2014 champion Palmer and Alex Lynn, who won five times in two seasons with the team.
A graduate of the Racing Steps Foundation, Rowland won the Formula Renault 3.5 championship in 2015 and gained further experience in Formula E before stepping up to GP2 last year. In his first season, Rowland impressed by finishing on the podium four times, including both races at his home circuit, Silverstone.
Upon joining DAMS for the Abu Dhabi test, Rowland quickly settled into the team and signalled his intent for the year ahead by topping the timesheets on the second day.
Jean-Paul Driot: "We are delighted to continue our partnership with Nicholas for a second season. He demonstrated his pace during his first full season in GP2, especially during qualifying, but we lacked a bit of understanding of tyre management and this cost us a bit for race results.Nicholas works exceptionally hard and we can count on his motivation to transform the potential we have seen into tangible results.
"We have followed Oliver's performances with great interest for a long time and he was a fierce competitor in Formula Renault 3.5, so we are very aware of his talent and excited to see what he can do in one of our cars. For Oliver and Nicholas, this season will be their second in GP2, so our ambition is absolutely to fight for the Teams' and Drivers' titles."
Nicholas Latifi: "Our big goal is to be consistently running at the front and having a better result in the championship than we did last year. I'm really happy to be in this team for the second season in a row, because I already have an established working relationship with everybody. That will help me a lot, especially as you don't get a lot of track time in GP2 and you're always having to adapt to the conditions. I know where we have to improve and the team knows where I have to as well. I've already made my first visit to the workshop this year and everyone is extremely motivated. There's definitely a really positive feeling in the team about the upcoming season."
Oliver Rowland:"The overall aim is to go and dominate the championship, that's my personal target and is shared by the team. DAMS have won championships in previous years with Valsecchi, Grosjean and Palmer, so I'm coming to an outfit with a lot of pedigree and I'll have to make sure I'm at the top of my game. Last year was my first year and with the tyres it was sometimes difficult, but there were lots of positives and I had some good results. Going into this year, I've got a lot better with my approach going into each race, so I'm looking forward to putting it into place. Everyone has been great so far and I'm excited to working with Nicholas to push the team forward."
DAMS ends 2016 in style with Abu Dhabi GP2 victory
DAMS and Alex Lynn claimed a dominant victory in Abu Dhabi, round 11 of the 2016 GP2 Series (November 25-27), to end their campaign on a fantastic high.
From pole position on the Sprint Race grid, British racer Lynn simply drove away from his opposition; the 23-year-old taking the chequered flag by five seconds at the Yas Marina Circuit.
It was the third win of the year for the Williams Martini Racing Development Driver and the fifth of his GP2 career - all of which have been achieved with Le Mans-based DAMS.
Lynn had finished eighth in the Feature Race after starting ninth and running a long first stint on the championship's medium-compound slicks.
A sticking wheelnut caused a longer-than-expected tyre change and dropped Lynn behind his team-mate Nicholas Latifi, but he passed the Canadian with two laps to go to secure eighth spot.
Latifi, who had started 13th, made it double-points for DAMS in the Feature Race. He came home ninth after opting for a short stint on super-soft tyres and an early switch to mediums. The Renault Sport Formula One Team Test Driver added 12th in Sunday's Sprint Race.
DAMS finished fifth in the Teams' Championship while Lynn's superb season-ending weekend elevated him to sixth in the Drivers' points. Latifi concluded his rookie GP2 campaign in 16th.
DAMS now remains in the UAE for the official three-day GP2 post-season test at the Yas Marina Circuit (November 30-December 2).
Alex Lynn, P8/P1: "It's great to finish the weekend - and the season - on such a nice high. I think I was on for a solid fifth or sixth in the Feature Race, but lost quite a bit of time in the final part of the medium-tyre stint and then also with the unfortunate wheelnut problem at the pitstop. But P8 gave me pole for the Sprint Race. The team made a lot of improvements to the car overnight and things just went fantastically in the race. It's a great way to end the season."
Nicholas Latifi, P9/P12: "It's nice to be back in the top 10 and to reward the team with some points for all their efforts this weekend. The top six was possible in qualifying, but the brakes got too hot, which affected my pace. I went for the 'exciting' strategy by starting on the option tyres and ended up having a relatively clean, trouble-free Feature Race. Sunday was tough and I struggled for pace generally, so that's something for us to analyse in the coming days."
François Sicard, Managing Director: "The best possible way to end a season is with a victory and we've achieved this. We had some bad luck in qualifying, mainly with yellow flags when Alex was on his best lap, and ninth and 14th didn't reflect our pace. But both drivers were very strong in the races and scored points. Alex should have been fifth in the Feature Race, but lost time with an unfortunate issue at his pitstop, and that helped him to get pole and the win in the Sprint. A perfect way to end two years together."
DAMS increases points tally in Malaysia
DAMS driver Alex Lynn finished in a strong fourth place in the GP2 Series at the penultimate round of the 2016 season at the Sepang International Circuit (September 29 - October 2), while Nicholas Latifi fought back from early misfortune to take a top-10 result in Malaysia.
Both demonstrated promising pace during qualifying; Briton Lynn posting the sixth-fastest time and Canadian Latifi showing front-running pace before a yellow flag ended his chances of a top-10 grid spot.
Lynn made a good start and climbed to fifth by the end of the first lap and ran there for the first half of the race; the Williams Martini Racing Development Driver then making up another position with a superbly-judged overtaking manoeuvre on British compatriot Oliver Rowland later on.
Team-mate Latifi made a lightning start to climb from 12th to seventh, but a spin dropped him down the order and forced him to make an earlier-than-planned pitstop, which preceded a 14th-place finish.
Gearbox issues for Lynn caused him to lose ground at the start of race two and a lack of grip restricted him to 12th at the chequered flag, while Renault Sport Formula One Team Test Driver Latifi performed strongly to climb to tenth.
DAMS hold fifth in the Teams' Championship while Lynn and Latifi are ninth and seventeenth in the drivers' standings with season finale, in support of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, to go on November 25-27.
Alex Lynn, P4/P12: "Qualifying was messy with a lot of red flags and problems throughout, so while sixth wasn't exactly what we wanted, it wasn't a bad starting position for the Feature Race. We had a good consistent run to finish fourth, which is a good improvement; and the car felt positive, which is great. There are some questions as to what we feel went on in the second race; it wasn't an ideal result, but we'll look into everything to try and find out what is going on."
Nicholas Latifi, P14/P10: "Qualifying was definitely a missed opportunity; the red and yellow flags scuppered my chances of maybe finishing in the top seven. I had a really good start, but then spun off the track, which pretty much ruined my race as I flat-spotted the tyres. A top-eight result would have been possible without the spin. I managed the Sprint Race much better with no mistakes. We are still missing a bit of pace, so we have to analyse it and see why. Next is Abu Dhabi. We were fastest there in winter testing so hopefully we can end this season on a high."
François Sicard, Managing Director: "Race one was good for us, with Alex fourth and not far off the podium. Nicholas had a fantastic start and was up to seventh before he went wide and spun. It was disappointing, but there were positives. In the second race, Alex had a dogging gearbox at the start so lost momentum. Then he struggled to get the tyres up to temperature and lacked grip. We don't really understand why this happened; it wasn't due to the balance in the car, as this was good all weekend. Nicholas had a good second race to battle back to tenth; it's not where we want to be but there are good signs. Hopefully we can convert these into strong results in Abu Dhabi."