Indian racer Arjun Maini has announced his move to the FIA Formula 2 Championship with Italian outfit Trident for the 2018 season. It will be his first year in the series, which forms as the immediate ladder to the FIA Formula 1 Championship.

The Haas F1 Team’s development driver makes the switch after spending last year in the GP3 Series with Jenzer Motorsport, where he finished ninth in the standings, having claimed his maiden win in the season-opener in Barcelona, which was voted as the season’s ‘Best Win’ by the GP3 paddock.

“I’m very excited to be competing in the FIA Formula 2 championship with Trident Racing,” said Maini. “I felt we were quite competitive during the post season test and given that the series is using all new cars for the coming season, I’m quite excited for the year ahead.

“Trident is a very strong team and I’m sure if we work hard we’ll be in for some strong results during the course of the season,” he added. Post the GP3 season, Maini tested the old generation F2 (formerly GP2) car in Abu Dhabi.

He spent Day 1 with Trident, while the other two days he tested with the 2017 F2 champion Russian Time team, where he topped the timesheet on Day 2 and was the only rookie driver to top two of the six sessions run. The 20-year-old will be joined by his fellow Haas junior Santino Ferrucci in the team.

The American driver made a mid-season switch to F2 last year with Trident and stays on for a full season, which will kick-start in Bahrain during the April 6-8 weekend, comprising of 12 rounds with four flyaways and eight European venues.

The Round 1 will be followed by races in Baku (April 27-29), Barcelona (May 11-13), Monaco (May 24-26), Paul Ricard (June 22-24), Red Bull Ring (June 29-July 1), Hungaroring (July 27-29), Spa-Francorchamps (August 24-26), Monza (August 31-September 2), Sochi (September 28-30) and Abu Dhabi (November 23-25).

Maini completed a shakedown of the F2 car in Magny-Cours, where the teams and drivers were given their first taste of the new machinery with the Halo cockpit device. They are scheduled to meet again for the official test during March 6-8 at Paul Ricard, France.

Team owner Maurizio Salvadori said: “Arjun is an undoubtedly valuable prospect who has all that it takes to be among the future stars of motorsports for the years to come. It is certainly not by chance that Haas F1 Team selected him to join their junior development program.

“Team Trident will provide Arjun with the experience and energy needed for him to continue growing up and reach his ultimate professional goals,” he added.

Team manager Giacomo Ricci added: “We have been following Arjun Maini for a while and he is an undoubtedly talented driver. He showed great driving skills and race conduct which are going to be some really important aspects in a demanding series like Formula 2. We hope to see him bring home solid results and to have a really competitive season together.”

Meanwhile, it was also confirmed that Maini will stay on as the Haas development driver for the 2018 season, after Team Principal Guenther Steiner broke the news in November 2017. “As Haas F1 Team continues to mature, we must look toward our future and develop potential talent,” he said upon today’s announcement.

“Arjun was successful in karting and has transitioned well to various Formula series, winning quickly in GP3. We’ll keep a keen eye on his progress this year in F2.” Maini is expected to have an expanded simulator programme in 2018.

Last year, the Indian completed 200 laps in his two-day session with Kevin Magnussen’s engineer at Ferrari’s HQ in Maranello.