Having held its first grand prix in 2009, the United Arab Emirates is slowly expanding its reach within the world of motorsport, hosting a number of internationally renowned championships. However, there have been few competitive teams based in the country, which new F4 UAE Championship team R2Race wants to change. F1 Feeder Series talked to team manager and co-founder Alessandro Tonoli about his plans of becoming the flag-bearer for UAE–based single-seater teams.
By Alexander Studenkov
A former racing driver who competed in various Formula Renault series during the 2000s, Tonoli has experience within the Middle Eastern motorsport scene. Over the past decade, Tonoli has worked as an instructor at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit, the only venue in the country to host a Formula One Grand Prix. Tonoli was also part of the 3Y Evans GP outfit in the Asian F3 Championship in 2021 with Red Bull junior Isack Hadjar and the 3Y by R-ace GP in FR Asia and F4 UAE.
In 2019, Tonoli, with his business partner Marco Celentano, founded R2Race, which competed in the Clio Cup class of the UAE Procar Championship and in the Gulf Radical Cup.
Signing experienced heads
The issue of signing staff members with relevant industry expertise has, thankfully for Tonoli and the team, been solved. The outfit has been in the process of securing experienced leaders to build itself a strong base, Tonoli explained.
“We hired some staff from Europe. Same goes for F4 UAE: our engineers and part our mechanics will come from Europe and will have huge experience in motorsport and F4.
“Of course, we are new in the championship, but we want [to] provide a top-level service and experience to our drivers. I want to be sure that from the team’s side, we provide 100 percent of the effort.
A positive outlook
A team needs good drivers to extract the most out of its package on track. Tonoli pointed out three aspects of R2Race that he hoped could attract drivers to sign for the team.
“Basically, we are a new team, but we have experience. I have done racing before, so when I talk to the drivers, I don’t just talk to them as a team manager. I’m an ex–race car driver, so I know exactly what they want, what they are feeling, what they are looking for, what they expect.
“The second aspect is that our staff is not new. We have a lot of experience, not only in F4 and Formula Regional but also people from F2 and F1, just to make sure that we can provide the best service ever. And another aspect is that we are based [in the UAE]. We can start testing in F4 from end of October, and when it’s not possible, we have always available our radical cars for testing or races, a very good training to learn the circuits.”
When I talk to the drivers, I don’t just talk to them as a team manager. I’m an ex–race car driver, so I know exactly what they want, what they are feelingAlessandro Tonoli
R2Race will make its single-seater debut at the non-championship F4 UAE round held 18–20 November in support of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. When asked about R2Race’s plans beyond contesting the F4 UAE Championship in the winter of 2023, Tonoli presented two visions.
“Our idea is to move the cars to Italy,” he told F1 Feeder Series. “Of course, it would be nice to compete in F4 Italy or F4 Spain, but we are really considering just to make a test team in Europe, providing our team service for the drivers [wanting to] prepare themselves and doing kilometres before their racing debut.
“These are our two options: either racing or just doing a testing team. But now we want to be focused for the UAE racing season.”
Header photo credit: R2Race
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