The GP2 line-up for 2009 looks very promising with several top drivers retaining their seats and some intriguing new talent entering the championship.
Lucas di Grassi is back for a fourth attempt at the series. Di Grassi, runner-up in 2007 and third last year despite only contesting part of the season, must be the title favourite as he pairs up with Racing Engineering, with whom Giorgio Pantano won last year’s title.
Renault F1 test driver Romain Grosjean heads into his second year in the category, but moves from ART to Addax, the team formerly known as Campos. Grosjean won twice last year but penalties cost him another two wins, plus that contentious collision with ex-team mate Luca Filippi at Valencia set him back further.
ART’s new signing Nico Hülkenberg – reigning F3 Euroseries champion – has looked very impressive in GP2 Asia so far. Hülkenberg is also paired up with an F1 team, and gave Williams-Toyota’s FW31 its first public run last month. He has Pastor Maldonado (fifth in 2008) alongside him.
There are a couple of familiar faces to keep an eye on. Javier Villa joins di Grassi in entering a fourth season of GP2, now with Super Nova who he has been driving for in the Asian series. Also in the four-year club is Andreas Zuber, now with Giancarlo Fisichella’s team FMS. His team mate will be South American F3 champion Luiz Razia, a newcomer to GP2.
Toyota F1 tester Kamui Kobayashi is leading GP2 Asia at present and is likely to stay with DAMS for the European season. Davide Valsecchi, currently placed second to Kobayashi, remains with Durango for the 2009 championship.
With most of the major seats sewn up it looks like being another excellent series of GP2. The question for British fans is whether they’ll be able to see it, with the BBC sadly declining to cover the sport in 2009.