Formula 2 GP2 2011


Seeing as noone else has started a thread on this I figured I might as well do one. GP2 is the most profilific feeder series out there in terms of bringing drivers into F1. Five of the six champions have gone straight into F1, with numerous others also joining from the series.

The format remains pretty much unchanged for this year, with half an hour practice on friday before a 1 hour qualifying session. This determines the grid for the feature race which takes place on saturday after F1 qualifying. The top 8 finishers in the feature are reversed to give the top 8 for the sprint race on sunday morning, with the remaining drivers lining up in the positions they finished the feature race in.

In the feature race the points are as follows: 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1, with 1 for pole and 1 for fastest lap. The points for the sprint race are 6-5-4-3-2-1. A point is also awarded for fastest lap in the sprint race.

Despite the stability in format, there are many other changes this season. The two main changes are the introduction of a new Dallara chassis that was also used in the GP2 Asia series in the winter, and the introduction of Pirelli as the new tyre supplier. These two changes have been enforced to make GP2 mirror F1 even more. The new chassis features aerodynamics that are similar to the post 2009 F1 ones, and the Pirelli tyres are dsigned as the F1 tyres are, to degrade significantly over the course of a stint.

On the teams front there are two new competitors. Carlin, with a rich history of racing in feeder series, and Team AirAsia, founded by Lotus F1 team owner Tony Fernandes, join the fray. They replace David Price Racing that failed in its bid to stay in the series, and Durango, that pulled out at the beginning of 2010.

The driver field is quite strong this year, here are a few to watch:

#1 Fabio Leimer SUI - The 2009 Formula Master champion had a difficult introduction to GP2 last year, winning the sprint race on his debut but otherwise struggling. He moves to last year's championship winning team Rapax for a title assault this year.

#5 Jules Bianchi FRA - A member of the Ferrari driver academy, he finished third on his series debut last season despite not winning a race and was strong in GP2 Asia in the winter. He's won in all series' that he's competed in and has today been backed by last year's champion, Pastor Maldonado, for the title.

#6 Esteban Gutierrez MEX - The inaugural GP3 champion makes the natural progression to GP2, and as Sauber's third driver, is expected to challenge from early on.

#9 Sam Bird GBR - Britain's next F1 star? He was extremely unlucky last year but only finished a couple of points off his highly rated teammate Jules Bianchi. Moves to iSport for 2011 and should fight for the title.

#11 Romain Grosjean FRA - Returns to GP2 for a full season for the first time since 2008, after part time driver in 2009 and 2010, and a failed F1 attempt. Won GP2 Asia in the off-season is one of the favourites.

#15 Jolyon Palmer GBR - Son of ex-F1 driver Jonathan Palmer. The Formula 2 runner-up impressed in testing, and could spring a few surprises.

#25 Mikhail Aleshin RUS - After winning the Renault World Series last season, he has struggled to raise funds for this year. His move to Carlin is only for this weekend at the moment unless he can find backing. If he can afford a sustained challenge, he should be one to watch.

#27 Davide Valsecchi ITA - Won GP2 Asia in 2009-2010, but struggled in the main series last year. Enters his fourth year in the category which is a long time by most people's standards. He desperately needs a good season but obviously has talent, as he has recently been signed as a test driver for Lotus in F1, and showed pretty good pace in his appearance in Malaysian Grand Prix practice.

The season kicks off at the Istanbul Park Circuit this weekend and follows the F1 circus through the season, with every GP2 event being a support event to F1. The final round is at Monza in September, it promises to be a cracking season!
I would like to see Romain Grosjean get another crack of the whip in F1 as a matter of fact. Don't think he got a fair go!

An F1 seat for the winner? Usually there is, though maybe DTM is where we should be looking...
An F1 seat for the winner? Usually there is, though maybe DTM is where we should be looking...

I understand the hype surrounding DTM after Paul Di Resta's promotion to F1, but he was always a special case in DTM, as he had long been linked to F1, while most other DTM drivers have come to the series after seeing their F1 hopes fizzle out. Having said that, Christian Vietoris is combining GP2 with DTM this year, so it will be interesting to see how he fares in both and will enable us to compare the two championships as feeder series.
Yes, when I say DTM I don't think it will ever match GP2 as a feeder series. These are GP2's F1 Graduates:

2006Nico Rosberg (champion)Scott Speed
2007Lewis Hamilton (champion)Heikki KovalainenKazuki Nakajima
2008Timo Glock (twice champion)Nelson Piquet Jnr.
2009Sebastian BuemiRomain GrosjeanKamui Kobayashi
2010Nico Hulkenburg (champion)Bruno SennaLucas di GrassiKarun ChandhokVitaly Petrov
2011Pastor Maldonado (champion)Sergio PerezJerome d'Ambrosio

OK, Glock was in F1 before GP2 and some skipped a year before F1, but that is damn close to everyone who's come into F1 for the last few years without Red Bull backing!
Bianchi looks good and would be my favourite, though Grosjean is bound to be a contender with his ability and experience. Much will depend on which teams get to grips with the new car first, particularly since the Asia series was somewhat abbreviated.

Gutierrez looks a good prospect but few rookies are able to sustain a championship challenge in GP2. 2012 might be his year.

Overall - I'll predict Bianchi will get into F1 for next season. Of the others, Aleshin might spring a surprise and has earned to show what he can do over a full season. Davide Rigon is a good driver but Coloni haven't demonstrated the ability to win a championship - he deserves better.
Oh dear, I didn't realise it was as bad. Hopefully he can make it back soon.
Yes, the article I read (on Autosport) said he would be out for the rest of the event with damaged metacarpals in both hands, with a small fracture to the left one. Time will tell if he will be able to come back for the next one. I know that many bike racers have continued with much worse injuries.
Davide Rigon's also goimg to be out for a while apparently, he's suffered multiple fractures in his left foot after a piece suspension pierced the chassis.
I watched the re-run on Eurosport last night. Sam Bird looked excellent, and was really lucky in race 2 that he wasn't wiped out by his idiotic teammate trying to 'pass' him into turn one after the late safety car. Sam then did really well to overtake Pic on the one remaining lap to get on the podium. Coletti, Bianchi and Grosjean also look good, with the latter two both suffering from early race two contact between them.
Agreed Chad - I thought Bird drove really well. I remember him being a demon overtaker at Barcelona last season, so I'm really looking forward to the next meeting...:cheer:
Would love to see this years GP2 championship however I don't have the budget for SKY - anyone know if theres a (legal) way I can watch it live on the net?
Hmm - not a very good advert for those trying to sell themselves to the F1 grid though, is it?:embarrassed:

Perhaps they should adopt more of an F1-style 3-part qualifying session, particularly at time- (& space-) constrained venues like Monaco?

Glad to see Bird's on the front row again :cheer:
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