These three drivers were the central characters in the epic GP2 title battle of 2006. Hamilton came out on top – but Piquet and Glock made him work hard for it and together the three produced some marvellous racing.
Here’s a quick look back at what happened – and what we might expect from them now they’re all in F1.
Piquet makes the early running
Going into the 2006 GP2 season the trio could not have had more different backgrounds.
Piquet, British Formula Three champion in 2004, already had a year in GP2 under his belt and had won at Spa in 2005. Hamilton arrived in GP2 in 2006 with reigning champions ART having won the F3 Euroseries title the year before.
Glock’s career up to this point had been somewhat less conventional. He’d already made his F1 debut for Jordan in 2004 and even scored in his first race at Montreal. But he hadn’t been able to keep his drive and, after a brief flirtation with Champ Cars, returned to the European scene in GP2 with back-of-the-grid team BCN.
Unsurprisingly, Glock didn’t trouble the leaders in the early races. Piquet won the first race but already he had Hamilton right behind him. Hamilton would not be a threat at Imola, however, as he had to serve a stop-go penalty early in the race for jumping the start. This coincided with a safety car deployment and amid some confusion Hamilton was deemed to have overtaken it and was disqualified.
He bounced back at the next round at the Nürburging with a crushing win in the feature race. He was almost 20 seconds ahead of team mate Alexandre Premat at the flag despite having had another stop-go penalty – a margin of victory seldom seen in a single-make series. He repeated the win in Sunday’s sprint race.
Now Piquet was under pressure. Hamilton chipped away at his lead and delivered a major blow at Monaco. While the British driver took maximum points with a win from pole plus fastest lap, Piquet qualified 12th and was taken out at the first corner.
Meanwhile Glock had dragged the BCN car into the points twice at Imola, picking up five points. But iSport’s Tristan Gommendy was injured in the first-corner crash at Monte-Carlo and Glock was called up to replace him. Glock’s form was transformed overnight – the German chasing winner Hamilton home at Silverstone.
Hamilton had now really got into his stride. In the second race at Silverstone he darted through the pack until he came across Piquet, who in turn was stuck behind Clivio Piccione. On lap nine Piquet tried an optimistic move around the outside of Piccione at Copse. As the pair ran side-by-side into Becketts suddenly Hamilton appeared alongside the pair of them and shot past, leaving Piquet, who had run out of road, bouncing across the infield grass (see video below).
Piquet’s fight back
That marked another win for Hamilton but now Piquet began the fight back. At Magny-Cours Hamilton tagged Adam Carroll’s car on the first lap, fell to 19th, and left the weekend with three points to Piquet’s ten. And now Glock had served notice of what he could do in a competitive car, winning the feature race at Magny-Cours by five seconds.
Right when Piquet needed to build momentum, bad luck struck. A car problem at the Hockenheimring left him point-less while Hamilton took another win. Glock may not have been in contention for the title but he was now often running quicker than the other two – and he took victory in the second race in Germany with a thrilling last-lap pass on Jose Maria Lopez.
It got worse for Hamilton at the Hungaroring. A crash in qualifying left him last on the grid, with Piquet on pole. The Brazilian shrugged off the pressure of the title battle and delivered a badly needed double win.
Four races to go: Hamilton has 87 points, Piquet 76. The Brazilian driver won from pole in the first race at Istanbul, Hamilton second, and now the gap between them was just six points.
Battle royale at Istanbul
The second round at Istanbul was the race of the season. Hamilton spun off on the start of the second lap, fell to 18th, while Piquet and fought over third.
At the same time Piquet was scrapping with Glock. He lunged down the inside for third but Glock came back at him on the next corner, taking Piquet back and squeezing him across the kerbs.
Lap 13: having dispensed with a string of other cars Hamilton passed Lucas di Grassi for fifth and began winding in Piquet. Now the real fun started as Hamilton, Glock and Piquet battled for lap after lap over third place.
Hamilton passed Piquet without too much difficult – but Glock proved tougher and as the pair fought, Piquet took his place back from Hamilton. But Hamilton just kept coming back at them – Piquet was dispensed with at the end of the straight, and Glock was finally beaten at the last corner on lap 20 (see video below).
Still Hamilton wasn’t done. Race leader Andreas Zuber might have been too far ahead to catch, but Hamilton reeled in second placed Adam Carroll and took him for second on the final tour.
Spectacular though it was it only bought Hamilton four points in his battle against Piquet. For all the excitement the season had brought the title decider at Monza was anti-climactic: Hamilton won the title by collecting a point for fastest lap after it had been taken away from race one winner Giorgio Pantano, who had set his under yellow flags.
But it was a vintage season and there was no mistaking who the stars of it were. Not just Hamilton, who often drove brilliantly but also made rookie mistakes, but also Piquet, who on his day could dominate a race as Hamilton did, and Glock, whose tough, uncompromising racecraft was a match for the champion’s.
Heading into 2008 it’s likely that we’ll see the McLarens ahead of the Renaults ahead of the Toyotas and perhaps there won’t be very much racing between the three. But when they do end up disputing the same part of the race track, expect drama.
2006 GP2 season highlights video:
- Video: F1 testing in Valencia (part 1)
- Video: F1 testing in Valencia and Jerez (part 2)
- Video: F1 testing at Barcelona (part 3)
- Video: F1 testing at Bahrain (part 4)
- Top 50 overtaking moves part 1, 50-41
- Top 50 overtaking moves part 2, 40-31
- Top 50 overtaking moves part 3, 30-21
- Top 50 overtaking moves part 4, 20-11
- Top 50 overtaking moves part 5, 10-1