Finnish driver Henri Karjalainen has become the latest name to sign up for the 2009 FIA Formula Two Championship as he bids to follow in fellow countryman Keke Rosberg’s tracks from F2 into Formula One.
22-year-old Henri has already experienced success in three continents having raced in Europe, Asia and North America during the last four years. He joins Formula Two after finishing runner-up in the 2007 Formula 3 Asia Pacific Championship, taking five wins and five podiums from the 13 races he contested, before progressing into the Formula Atlantic Championship for 2008.
Karjalainen has also competed in GP2, having been invited to replace fellow Finn Markus Niemelä for the Turkish round of the 2007 championship following a string of impressive results in the 2006 Asian Formula Renault Challenge. Henri scored one victory and three podiums for the Asia Racing Team, whilst he also competed in five Formula 3 Asia races during the same season.
Henri Karjalainen said: “Formula Two is a fantastic opportunity for me, and I’m delighted to have signed up to compete in 2009. F2 has a great history, and now the 2009 championship has the backing of the FIA, so it has real pedigree. For me F2 represents the best chance to progress into Formula One, which has always been my ambition. Keke Rosberg graduated from Formula Two into F1, and I will be trying my utmost to follow in his tracks.
“The championship itself is a great package – not only is it much cheaper than other series, but the prize of a test drive with Williams is a huge draw and I think that’s been reflected in how strong a driver line up F2 has. Of course I’m looking to win races, but the Williams test is a huge incentive and I’m sure everyone will be pushing hard. It’s going to be really exciting, especially as the cars are all equal and so it will all come down to the drivers.”
Jonathan Palmer, Chief Executive of championship organizer MotorSport Vision, said: “I’m delighted to welcome Henri to Formula Two. I had the privilege of racing against Keke Rosberg – who became the first Finn to reach Formula One – in the mid-1980s, and he was sensationally fast. It would be fantastic if Henri could follow Keke’s example and progress from Formula Two into F1; certainly he faces some extremely tough competition, but Henri is one of Finland’s outstanding young drivers and we’re delighted to have him in F2.”
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