Formula 2 Has GP2 lost it's importance as an F1 feeder series?


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Are you mad?

This is what you're probably thinking after reading that article headline but lets just sit back and think about it for a minute. Those drivers who have the money and the talent are getting spotted earlier leaving those drivers in the second tier of single seaters left in limbo.

There are several new drivers tipped for F1 seats in the 2014 season but where are they coming from....
Daniil Kyvat is coming straight to F1 from GP3,
Sergey Sirotkin is making a huge jump from Renault 3.5 into a Sauber seat.
Kevin Magnussen hotly tipped by Antony Davidson is also making the jump from Renault 3.5

Looking back at the F1 drivers produced by GP2 and apart from Lewis Hamilton only 2 other former GP2 drivers have even won a race.

Out of this years crop of GP2 drivers, how many of them have a seat lined up in F1 next season?
The answer at the time of writing is 0.
What about last years champion? He's looked very cosy in the pit area of Lotus but has he turned a F1 wheel in anger even in a practise session?
Have the drivers currently racing in this series already missed their chance of getting a competitive F1 seat?

These are questions that need to be answered as the GP2 series comes to close for another season. I love watching them race and the crazy attitude of the drivers is very refreshing but where next for the likes of Leimer, Bird & Calado?
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Interesting - when GP2 first started, it seemed a given that whoever won the GP2 title would then find his way into F1 the following year, and even the runners-up seemed to be snapped up by one team or another (Rosberg & Kovy, Lewis & Nelsinho, Maldo & Perez), Glock managed to resurrect his F1 career by winning the GP2 title, and then (since Hulk & Maldo) suddenly the flow just seemed to stop - was it just a case of there being insufficient berths left in F1? Or was it something to do with the perceived quality of the guys who've won it recently? :dunno:

Perhaps the "shop window" that GP2 was intended to be has become fogged-up with the collective breath of all the desperate young drivers clamouring for attention, and now nobody can really see the potential stars of the future anymore.

The current financial mess a lot of the F1 teams find themselves in at the moment is probably the biggest factor though - when even good midfield seats are being sold to the highest bidder, and a frontrunning team is dependent on a handout from Bernie or a buyout from a shady middle-east consortium to survive, then where could an unsponsored but talented GP2 frontrunner find a seat?
I really haven't watched very much of any of the feeder series, but I did catch the GP2 races in Singapore and Abu Dhabi over the last week or so. I think the answer to "is GP2 relevant to F1 now" is easier for me to answer than "was it ever relevant" :)

The first thing that struck me about GP2 was that it is largely a pay driver series. There is also a large field and it does seem like the results can vary widely from one race to the next. You don't have the established pecking order that you do in F1. Whether that is because of the rules, the cars or the drivers I'm not sure, but there is not the consistency that you see in F1.

Maybe there is just not a standout driver at the moment - no one who is good enough to make it in F1? This could be because the really good ones in the 20-25 age group have been fast tracked into F1 already. F1 is now taking drivers at 18-20 years old, leaving little but the not-quite-good-enoughs to battle it out in GP2. Sam Bird and Davide Valsecchi are 'only' 26, but they are both older than Vettel. Leimer is already 24.

Just with the amount of time involved getting to GP2, filling the series with the most promising 18-20 year olds is unrealistic so F1 is naturally looking lower down the pyramid. And with GP2 costing millions of pounds per season, if you were backing a young driver, you might not want to 'waste' the money and risk getting caught up in the melee that is GP2 right now.

Vettel has undoubtedly lowered the bar age-wise. Of the current grid, only Ricciardo, Vergne, Perez, Bottas, Hulkenberg, Gutierrez, Pic, Chilton and Bianchi are younger than the now 4 time WDC. You can understand teams digging ever deeper to find the next generation which might include Magnussen (21), Kvyat (19) and Sirotkin (18).

With drivers skipping GP2 on the way up, many have also been too proud perhaps to step down to GP2 when an early introduction to F1 has gone wrong. It worked for RoGro, but maybe Alguersuari, Buemi and D'Ambrosio could be driving and winning GP2 now but aren't. I can't see how else they are going to get back into F1. Maybe GP2's future is as a 'last chance saloon' to catch those that failed because they tried too early. The problem for these people is the financial backing may be gone by the time they are dumped from F1.

Most of the seats in F1 rare locked up and there are very few retirements from veterans like Button, Alonso & Raikkonen imminent to free up space. With the youngsters coming straight into F1, you might start seeing more of them like Alguersuari dumped on the scrapheap at 23 too.
Am I right in saying that GP2 is just F3000 renamed? but now the single seater series ranks like this F1, GP2, F2, GP3 and F3 so there must be a lot of young talent to chose from so why should GP2 be a guaranteed feed for F1? After all Jenson came straight from F3 and he became world champion and has never had to pay for a drive in F1..
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In it's early years (1985 to 1995) the International F3000 series was quite open with teams having access to different chassis and engines. There were quite a few chassis builders coming and going in those years including March, AGS, Ralt, Reynard, Dallara and Lola. By 1995 Reynard, having produced the best chassis for several years, virtually monopolised the formula. The series organisers solution was, in 1996, to introduce new regulations that restricted the series to a "single make" formula in which teams were forced to run identical chassis and engines. When GP2 replaced F3000, in 2004, engine capacity was increased from 3 litres to 4 litres hence the change in name.

IMHO the series was doomed in 1996 when it became a spec series. Although Reynard's domination was clearly not good for the series it still had healthy grids and a following. Links with F1 teams had been built and many were using it as a training ground for their drivers and, I believe, young engineers and technicians. By 1998 the series was already descending into crisis with falling grids and F1-like processional races. 1998 was briefly enlivened by the antics of Juan Pablo Montoya who had a penchant for Senna-like dispatching of opponents. The most notorious of which was taking out Super Nova team mate, and championship contender, Jason Watt at Monaco. The slide continued helped along, IMHO, by patchy and unpredictable TV coverage by Eurosport until the drastic move to scrap it by the end of 2003.

Competing series such as F3, Formula Nissan, Formula Renault etc, have always produced many of the stars over the years and I doubt that will change. GP2 was intended to be a key stepping stone to F1 but seems to be one step too many. At least for a while F3000 was a stepping stone not just for drivers but also for engine and chassis constructors. That stepping stone went missing at the end of 1995 and I believe F1 has been worse off for it.

It is sheer good fortune - notwithstanding a lot of very hard work - that Caterham and Marussia have survived their formative years in F1. Whilst we wonder where new drivers are coming from perhaps we should spare a thought for the chassis and engine builders of the future and the budding designers, engineers and technicians who also seek a route to F1.
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Most of the seats in F1 rare locked up and there are very few retirements from veterans like Button, Alonso & Raikkonen imminent to free up space.

Half of the 2011 F1 field has disappeared! Although that could equally be due to the finacially situations already mentioned.
I couldn't agree more with everything you've said @fenderam Jordan F1 was born out of that very system now what hope does F1 have with all the lower classes being a single make series, the whole thing is becoming somewhere for boys with rich daddies to fund their playtime....
Most of the seats in F1 rare locked up and there are very few retirements from veterans like Button, Alonso & Raikkonen imminent to free up space. .


I think this quote is very telling and part of the "problem". Not the fact that they aren't retiring but the fact they can be called "veterans". Which they are in term of years spent in F1, but not in terrms of actual years.
F1's top-dogs begin their F1 careers at an earlier age than they ever did these days. The F1 career of top stars may well span over something close to two decades.
24 to 28 used to be about average an age to make your F1 debut. These days 22 is almost too late....
Most of the seats in F1 rare locked up and there are very few retirements from veterans like Button, Alonso & Raikkonen i

Why on gods green earth should the true stars of F1 the guys who have been cherry picked by teams because of shear talent alone and have actually been paid to drive for the whole of their F1 career and are actively sought after and head hunted by the top teams because of their success give up their hard earned and well deserved seats at the age of 33 so that a young pup with a few quid in his pocket can ponce around in an F1 car?

If F1 ever gets to the stage where every driver is a pay driver and not there through talent alone then I will definitely stop watching it..
GP2 has def lost its place as the best feeder series to the 3.5 series and its simpley because its become a showcase for drivers with a budget.

Robin Frinjs is a perfect example. He was a champion in the 3.5 series but couldn't afford the budget to run for the entire GP2 series. Because it gets thevmedia attention its full of drivers with budgets throwing money at the series so they get to show off in front of the F1 lot. It means the actual talent struggles to come to the top and by the time it does they've been there four season or so and seen as past it.

Bianchi saved his career by switching from GP2 to 3.5 series and Bird attempted to do the same. Mclaren recently said they had very little interest in GP2.

I love the racing in GP2 but we could really do without the likes of Canmasas, Ceccto Jr and Binders wheel banging their budget off and taking up spots real drivers could have.
As a feeder series, GP3 seems to be the better option. The cars are slower, but are similar to F1 cars in their power:downforce ratio. Let's not forget a number of drivers have skipped GP2- Button, Bottas, and now Kvyat
It is interesting that Red Bull chose to run their young drivers in GP3 but then switch them up to world series rather than GP2.
Button couldn't have skipped GP2 since he was already in F1 before GP2 started. GP2 has fed F1 with several drivers some of whom succeeded and some didn't, but it does seem to be being bypassed now.
I think the problem is that GP2 is ridiculously expensive, mainly because Bernie allowed the suppliers of spec parts to charge way over the odds to the teams.
Bernie!?! Ruining a sport by overcharging? Well I never.

Interestingly it looks like the ops point will be forced home as none of the 2013 GP2 field look set to get a seat in F1 for 2014. I think this is the first time this has happened since GP2 began.

I think the only outside bets are if Force India gamble on Caledo for their race seat or if Caterham take some cash off someone like Nasr. However Caterham look set on Pic and Marussia look set to confirm Chilton which leaves very little space.
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F1 wasn't a 'show' when it started it was a sport.

But you'll find there have been different levels of single seater racing for a very long time. Hence why its called Formula 1 and not just Motorcars.
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