With only a few weeks remaining until the F1 H2O World Championship season opener in Portimao, Portugal—the Grand Prix of Portugal (April 21-23)—arguably the biggest news of the offseason was announced earlier today.
Scott Gillman (left) and driver Ahmed Al Hameli are joining Shaun Torrente on the Victory Team this season. Photo courtesy F1 H2O
Team manager Scott Gillman confirmed an exciting new driver lineup for his rebranded Dubai-based Victory Team. Joining American driver Shaun Torrente, last year’s runner-up to world champion Philippe Chiappe, is former Team Emirates driver Ahmed Al Hameli.
According to the F1 H2O press release, the pairing of Al Hameli and Torrente unleashes a formidable and experienced strike team as both are potential title challengers. Al Hameli is expected to run his BABA hull while Torrente returns in his Moore Formula boat.
Torrente, who was one of only two drivers to score points in every Grand Prix in 2016, hopes to put together an even more consistent season and finish ahead of the three-time defending champion Chiappe. A fierce competitor, Torrente has earned a spot on the podium in 13 of 34 career starts—he’s won four times overall.
Al Hameli’s return to form and to the top of the podium in qualifying and his race win Liuzhou, China, was one of the highlights of 2016, but the UAE resident, who has won seven Grand Prix races, hopes to improve on a career-best fourth overall in the championship standings. He’ll start in Portimao looking for his third win in the Algarve.
According to the release, a further rebranding realignment sees the EMIC Racing morph into Emirates Racing—Gillman’s former team—with a driver lineup of Marit Stromoy, Mike Szymura and Trask Grant.