Former GT Academy winner Jann Mardenborough takes his latest step towards Formula 1 as he joins Arden's GP3 team

The GP3 series supports the F1 events throughout the season and Mardenborough, who moved into racing after winning a nationwide Playstation tournament, has eyes firmly set on reaching the top

Jann Mardenborough, the boy racer who moved into motor sport after winning a nationwide Playstation tournament, will take a big step towards his ultimate dream by making his debut in Formula 1 feeder series GP3 this year.

The former GT Academy winner announced today that he has signed with the championship winning Arden International team in a series that shadows the F1 circuit through its European stages. The breakthrough will mean Mardenborough can show off his talents to the big bosses of Ferrari and McLaren while current constructor champions Red Bull, home of four-time F1 champion Sebastien Vettel, have also asked Mardenborough to join their driver development programme.

Speaking to The Independent having just returned from New Zealand, where he finished second in the Toyota Racing Series with three wins and seven podiums from 15 races, the 22-year-old spoke of his delight at joining Arden, whose team principal is also the Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner.

“I first tested the GP3 car back in November and really liked it,” said Mardenborough. “The team is very experienced with guys like Julian and Andy Rouse who have raced themselves and know what drivers are going through on the track. Everyone’s very focused on what they’re doing.”

Prior to competing in New Zealand, the Darlington-born driver, now living in Cardiff, had been competing in Formula 3. To give an idea of the jump he is making, he will now be sitting in a GP3 car that has double the horsepower of his previous single-seater engine.

 

Since its inaugural year in 2010, three drivers have gone on to compete, or are competing in Formula 1, including former champions Esteban Gutiérrez and Valtteri Bottas for Sauber and Williams respectively, and Jean-Éric Vergne for Toro Rosso. Mardenborough, who has come a long way in a short space of time since winning the 2011 GT Academy, descibes it as “a perfect shop window” for getting people’s attention.

“GP3 has a big reach on TV as well, it’s watched by people all over the world,” he said. “I want to be challenging for the podiums and improving every single race. I’ve got the right team behind me and will be listening to them all the time. I feel ready for GP3. Formula 3 has taught me so many things, both in the car and out of the car, both mentally and physically. It was a great stage in my development and I’m sure the skills I’ve learnt there will help me in GP3 and beyond.”

In the last two seasons Mardenborough has competed and excelled in a variety of vehicles: from GT cars, Le Mans Prototypes to single-seaters. His podium finish at Le Mans in 2013 came two years to the day after he reached the final stages of the Nissan-sponsored GT Academy in 2011. He is now joining a team with a championship winning pedigree with a proven track record of sending drivers into Formula 1.

Russian racer Daniil Kyvat, who won the GP3 title with Arden last year, will be the fourth from the series to make his F1 debut, aged just 19, racing for Toro Rosso when the season begins in Melbourne next month. Former three-time Grand Prix winner Johnny Herbert, who has been a mentor to Mardenborough since 2011, said his time to breakthrough is now.

“When you have a chance you have to grab it by the horns,” the ex-Benetton driver told the Independent. “That’s where you stand out. Jann’s 22 now, so he’s at that age where you feel if he is going to make it all the way to Formula 1, something has to happen soon. I don’t see Jann having any problem moving up to GP3 from Formula 3 though - and it is a massive jump - because you can see from his Le Mans performances that he has the sheer speed. He impressed a lot of people there.

“Now he has the chance to do the same in front of the F1 world. He has the Formula 3 experience and racing the Toyota Series in New Zealand will stand him in good stead. Jann has to really dig his heels in and give it all.”

Mardenborough, whose father Steve was a professional footballer for lower-league clubs, has a background far removed from Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton’s, whose parents were able to spend the vast sums of money needed to support the future stars through karting tournaments - the traditional route for F1 champions. Instead, Mardenborough has become the poster boy for all those who believe excelling at a computer game can one day result in a professional racing contact.

Herbert said: “I have been mightily impressed with what Jann has achieved since winning GT Academy. For someone with Jann’s experience doing so well is very rare to see. Last year he raced in the European F3 series which is hell of a tough challenge during your first season; the fact that it was Jann’s first season in any kind of single-seaters is incredible.

“Whilst he has had a very successful first year in GT racing and he has now got an amazing result at Le Mans 24 Hours under his belt, he is competing against drivers that have grown up with seasons of karting and single-seater experience behind them. The only question that remains unanswered is ‘Can a gamer make it all the way to F1?’”

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried