GP2 2010 season preview: The drivers racing to become F1′s stars of tomorrow

Jerome d'Ambrosio drives for Renault's GP2 team

Jerome d'Ambrosio drives for Renault's GP2 team

Young drivers backed by Ferrari, McLaren and Renault are among those competing in the new GP2 season which starts this weekend.

Winning the category is the best way to get yourself a ticket into F1 – and it’s great racing too. Here’s your guide to the season ahead:

Drivers to watch

With several long-term GP2 drivers graduating to F1 this year – Lucas di Grassi, Vitaly Petrov – and others decamping to other championships – Luca Filippi, Alvaro Parente – there are many fresh faces in GP2 this season.

Picking an outright championship favourite is not easy among these eye-catching names. Here are some of the drivers to keep an eye on in 2010:

Jules Bianchi (France, ART) – Reigning F3 Euroseries champion looking to follow in the footsteps of Lewis Hamilton and Nico H???lkenberg by winning the GP2 title for ART en route to an F1 berth.

Bianchi has already been signed by Ferrari and drove for the team in the young drivers’ test at Jerez last year.

Read more: Jules Bianchi (Meet the rookies)

Giedo van der Garde (The Netherlands, Addax) – Struggled in the first half of 2009 with iSport but came on strong later in the year, winning three races.

Sergio Perez (Mexico, Addax) – Shown flashes of speed but got involved in a few incidents. Could give van der Garde a fright.

Oliver Turvey (Britain, iSport) – Won his third GP2 Asia race and now a McLaren Development Driver.

Read more: Oliver Turvey: Alguersuari?s progress shows I?m ready for F1 (Interview)

Davide Valsecchi (Italy, iSport) – Dominated the GP2 Asia series over the winter.

Seems to have gelled brilliantly with his iSport team and with two years’ GP2 experience should be a contender for the championship.

Jerome D’Ambrosio (Belgium, Renault Junior/DAMS) – Promising member of the Renault Driver Programme.

Unusually he’s spending his third consecutive season in GP2 with the DAMS squad, now in Renault colours.

Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela, Rapax) – Entering his fourth season of GP2 and in danger of looking a little long in the tooth. But he’s been very quick in pre-season testing.

Rapax is the new name for Piquet Sports, the team he drove for in 2008. But he was soundly beaten by H???lkenberg at ART last year.

The rest of the grid

Virgin's reserve driver Luiz Razia races for Rapax

Virgin's reserve driver Luiz Razia races for Rapax

Maldonado’s team mate is Virgin reserve driver Luiz Razia. Sam Bird joins Bianchi at ART.

Charles Pic looked strong for a resurgent Arden team in GP2 Asia. His team mate will be Rodolfo Gonzalez.

Former champions Racing Engineering have retained Daniel Clos who is joined by F3 Euroseries runner-up Christian Vietoris. Vietoris won the second round of the GP2 Asia championship – and then failed to score in the remaining races.

But after helping Giorgio Pantano to the drivers’ championship in 2008, Racing Engineering struggled to recapture that form with Lucas di Grassi last year.

Formula Master champion Fabio Leimer makes a big step up to GP2, joining ex-F1 driver Tiago Monterio’s Ocean Racing team. He is partnered by Max Chilton, the younger brother of BTCC racer Tom.

Josef Kral finished third in Formula Master and he will drive for Super Nova alongside Swede Marcus Ericssson.

Ho-Pin Tung, the only Chinese driver in the championship, drives alongside fellow Renault Driver Programme member d’Ambrosio in the DAMS-run team.

DPR finally enjoyed some better results in GP2 Asia including a win for Giacomo Ricci in the final race. They retain Ricci and Michael Herck for the main championship.

Alberto Valerio seemed to have scored a breakthrough win at Silverstone last year. But after that he resumed his place near or at the back of the field in the remaining races, and keeping the safety car driver in full-time employment.

He is joined by Bulgarian driver Vladimir Arabadzhiev at Coloni, who won in the new Auto GP championship at Brno two weeks ago beating several more experienced drivers.

Johnny Cecotto Jnr, the son of Ayrton Senna’s 1984 Toleman team mate, will drive for the struggling Trident Racing team. His team mate will be South African Adrian Zaugg.

Races and calendar

Vitaly Petrov leads Nico H???lkenberg in last year's GP2 race at the Algarve circuit

GP2 supports F1 at ten forthcoming Grands Prix: Spain, Monaco, Turkey, Europe (Valencia), Britain, Germany, Hungary, Belgium, Italy and, for the first time, Abu Dhabi (GP2 Asia supported the Yas Island race last year).

There is one extra event on the GP2 calendar which is not an F1 support race. On the weekend before the European Grand Prix they will race at the excellent Algarve International circuit in Portugal, which was the scene of the season finale last year.

Each round has two races: a feature race on Saturday (after F1 qualifying) and a sprint race on Sunday (before the Grand Prix).

The grid for the feature race is set in a short qualifying session. The finishing order of the feature race is used as the starting order for the sprint race, with the top eight finishers reversed.

TV and live timing

You can follow live timing for all GP2 sessions on their website: GP2 Live Timing

Eurosport broadcasts GP2 in Britain, however they are not showing the first race live – from their TV listings it appears it is being delayed until 6.30pm on British Eurosport 2. The second race is live at 9:35am on Sunday morning on British Eurosport.

Twitter

GP2′s official Twitter account: Feeder Series

To the best of my knowledge these are all the official Twitter accounts of the GP2 drivers and teams:

Drivers

Johnny Cecotto Jnr
Max Chilton (F1Max)
Dani Clos
Sergio Perez
Alberto Valerio
Giedo van der Garde
Luiz Razia
Ho-Pin Tung

Teams

ART Grand Prix
iSport
Meritus_Asia
Ocean Racing Technology
Racing Engineering

2010 GP2 teams and drivers

Your thoughts on GP2 2010

Are you following this year’s GP2 championship? Who do you think will win? Who are you rooting for? Have your say in the comments.

Images (C) GP2 Media Service

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46 comments on GP2 2010 season preview: The drivers racing to become F1′s stars of tomorrow

  1. djdaveyp said on 5th May 2010, 19:12

    Wish it was on a free channel! I just downgraded my sky! :(

    • Magnificent Geoffrey said on 6th May 2010, 0:31

      If I find any GP2 streams I’ll post them on here and during the F1 live blogs.

      • damonsmedley said on 6th May 2010, 7:27

        That would be really good! In Australia we don’t get GP2 no matter what channels we purchase. I sometimes miss the live blogs.

      • BasCB said on 6th May 2010, 12:04

        Thanks, that would be great.

  2. Can’t wait for GP2 to start, they are really entertaining series and I watch them whenever I can. There is one problem with them though – after all the chaos and mayhem in gp2 sprint race F1 race often seems dull. For example Valencia last year had 3 safety car periods in first 6 laps and the race was really thrilling. It is a great place to see up and coming talents which will one day race in Formula 1.

  3. Untitled258 said on 5th May 2010, 19:29

    i cant say i will be watching it, i have no way to watch it, i used back when it was on itv4, shame.

    And that GP2 car in the renault livery looks tonnes better then the f1 car with the same stickers for some reason.

    • Fer no.65 said on 5th May 2010, 22:33

      i was thinking the same…

      maybe because of the winglets and stuff… the wings on F1 cars are still horrible…

    • ste said on 5th May 2010, 23:19

      same here bbc should have took it under there wing even if it was red button

      • Untitled258 said on 6th May 2010, 13:43

        F1 should do the same as the MotoGP and have all GP2 races and GP3 following the same calendar, and, let the broadcaster of the F1 have the rights to show the GP2 and GP3 too. Even if it is on the freeview red button

  4. Bleu said on 5th May 2010, 19:33

    Looking forward to this, I have watched almost every race in last few years (recording some of them due to not able to watch them live) and continuing that this year. Despite the championship going to a rookie twice (2006 Hamilton, 2009 Hülkenberg) I am guessing for the more experienced guy this year. So I predict one of the Addax guys to win it.

  5. Scribe said on 5th May 2010, 19:47

    Now we shall see if young Bianchi really has the mustard in him, win it an presumably he’ll bag himself an F1 seat, not sure where though he was a bit dissapointing in GP2 Asia, I wonder if he can do any better this in the main series. Still if he does win it first time we might have a potential champion on our hands.

    Still Kobayashi won the asia series an who was he in GP2. Wonder if Valsecchi will be able to carry the form. Still gotta plump for the brits, hope they run em wilde.

    • steph said on 5th May 2010, 20:05

      Agree Bianchi wasn’t that stunning n GP2 Asia but on the Abu Dhabi weekend where he got a podium and stormed the field he was brilliant.
      I read (in F1 Racing) that Vettel’s former race engineer in F3 Euro or maybe another series (I really should pay more attention) said Jules could be just as good as Vettel. Vettel was apparently better with technical feedback but Bianchi could race just a little bit more he said. I’ll try to find the actual quote and guy who said it.
      Turvey should be one to watch.
      I loved Valsecchi, partly for his helmet, but I don’t think a GP2 Asia series winner has ever won the main series. Perhaps he could be the first.

      • Scribe said on 5th May 2010, 20:22

        Whats always confused me is why, if Vettle’s so good why Paul Di Resta’s so ignored, it makes no sense at all, the man beat Vettle, in the same machinery when they where growing up in the feeder series.

        Why has no one noticed a proven Vettle beater? Blows my mind.

        • steph said on 5th May 2010, 20:57

          I agree about di Resta. I think if he got a crack at F1 at the same time as Vettel he could have stolen some of the focus. That’s all just my opinion though and pointless for me to get into the ifs.
          It is good he seems to have some stronger links now with Mercedes and driving on a Friday. He very much seems on the shopping list, even if it has taken longer than it perhaps might have done.

        • My opinion is that signing up for Mercedes was a mistake for di Resta (though it may come good if he gets his break with Force India). Mercedes have a young driver list as long as your arm and few of them ever get a chance in F1 – just look at Gary Paffett who was touted as the next big thing, tested a McLaren a few times but has never been anywhere near an F1 drive. Di Resta was nothing short of sensational in his first DTM season in 2007 (as well as before that, as you point out), and F1 has always been his target, but only now are we starting to hear about an F1 drive becoming a possibility.

          Other drivers, perhaps less deserving, have been picked up by other sponsors and have found various routes into F1 in the same time frame. It’s all about who you know!

        • PJA said on 6th May 2010, 11:17

          I think it is just a case of some drivers getting better chances than others and then more media attention.

          There seem to be plenty of young drivers in various feeder series who are touted as the next big thing, and while most of them probably don’t deserve the hype, there are probably quite a few drivers who if things had worked out differently could have had a successful F1 career but may never compete in F1.

          In virtually every sport a mixture of decisions and events can make or break any career. A promising athlete may suffer an injury they never fully recover from, a footballer may find at one club he is only a bench warmer and so doesn’t get the opportunities to impress, sort of like a test driver in F1, or someone may just thrive better under different management conditions.

          In motorsport I would say it can be even harder when you factor in the funds needed and how important the right machinery is.

  6. Lucas.M said on 5th May 2010, 20:27

    Bianchi to win GP2 2010 with Bottas winning it next year after winning the Euro F3 Series

  7. Keith, the link for Diego Nunes’ Twitter is out of date – he’s changed his username to Nunes_stockcar following his switch to the Copa Caixa Stock Car series.

  8. OEL said on 5th May 2010, 22:06

    Go Marcus Ericsson, my countryman! It was a long time since we had a Swedish driver in F1, so it’s time to replace Stefan Johansson as the latest Swede in F1!

  9. Stephen_P83 said on 5th May 2010, 22:42

    I’m not sure where it is broadcast in the UK (I use bitTorrent to follow racing), but the new GP3 series should be pretty good as well. The only hope America has of getting a driver to F1 in the next few years, Alex Rossi, is racing there.

    • R.E.M. said on 6th May 2010, 1:40

      Shame Rossi got the shaft for GP2, but at least he’s with the top GP3 team (plus his testing speeds earned him the #1 on his car!).

      Of course Scott Speed also had #1 in GP2′s first season. Didn’t translate to any wins though.

      • Stephen_P83 said on 6th May 2010, 23:40

        It’s actually probably better Rossi is doing GP3. He did the GP2 Asia series and didn’t have a lot of success (although he did look good in a few races). The GP2 cars would probably be too big of a step to take right now. Last season he is in International Formula Masters, so GP3 seems like the right move and I’m sure it’ll lead to GP2 next year.

  10. Klon said on 5th May 2010, 23:25

    My eyes are on Vietoris and Bianchi, both looked like extremely promising talent in F3

  11. Ned Flanders said on 5th May 2010, 23:25

    Just out of curiosity, am I right in thinking that there is a limit to the number of F1 events drivers can compete in before they are barred from GP2? Or is it an age limit?

    I just wonder why the likes of Romain Grosjean, Nelson Piquet, Sebastien Bourdais etc don’t go back to GP2 to rebuild their careers. Or do all drivers need a budget to compete?

    • Scribe said on 5th May 2010, 23:47

      Glock went back. Glock went back an won, found a good drive an came back reputation enhanced, it is possible, it’s probably more about getting the money and the drive.

      Er, Bourdais? I don’t know why he didn’t go back to Indy personally, Piquet I suspect couldn’t find a drive, although Piquet sports would have seemed an obvious route.

      So although it’s possible to fall back to GP2, an sucsess can be found there, many reason why some wouldn’t. Grosjean really needs to win this years GT1 if he wants an F1 drive though.

      Grosjean probably lost his Renault backing an didn’t feel like the step backwards.

      Poor old Pantano went back, eventually won the damn thing then couldn’t find a drive. Although, if you wiki it, I’m not sure you’ll be blown away by the dominance of his win.

  12. Gman said on 5th May 2010, 23:31

    Great preview, but are you going to mention the new GP3 series as well?

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 5th May 2010, 23:46

      It’s on the list of “Stuff I’d write about if I had more time”, I’m afraid. Got to draw the line somewhere and there’s a lot of junior championships I don’t write about. Could be a candidate for a ‘Why You Should Watch…’ later, though.

  13. sato113 said on 5th May 2010, 23:51

    yeah its 909 or 693 MW (medium wave)

  14. MEmo said on 6th May 2010, 0:44

    Ocean, iSport and Arden have the coolest liveries in GP2.
    Besides F1, GP2 is the only other racing sport I´m attracted to follow since so many drivers jump from it to F1. But it´s true: there seem to be too many feeder series…

    • Ned Flanders said on 6th May 2010, 0:58

      I love the iSport livery! Also quite like the Racing Engineering and Trident cars

    • Johan Kasper said on 6th May 2010, 10:54

      The iSport-livery reminds me of the Footwork-livery used in 1994 / 1996, very nice indeed.

  15. SoLiD said on 6th May 2010, 0:45

    As a Belgian I hope D’ambrosio makes it, but the dams team doesn’t seem that good.
    They did some good starts to the season but fade away.
    Jerome did better then Koboyashi so who knows :)

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