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. Macca said on 6th May 2010, 4:51

    I’ll support Addax just because it has my name on the rear wing.

  2. Kris H. said on 6th May 2010, 5:06

    I think Bianchi, Pic, and Valsecchi will be the top 3, although I really wish Rossi and Parente could have found rides this year.

    Does anyone know if GP2 is adopting the same points system as F1 this year? I know WRC followed their lead, so I am thinking GP2 will as well.

    • Bleu said on 6th May 2010, 9:25

      I don’t think so. Would need a overhaul since the sprint race is worth of less points. Also it’s worth of noting that GP2 isn’t FIA series, and Euro F3 which has similar format with feature and sprint, has kept the old system.

  3. Harv's said on 6th May 2010, 6:33

    the way the FOM are going, these cars will be faster than f1 cars by 2013

  4. James said on 6th May 2010, 11:39

    The GP2 grid doesnt seem all that promising to me this year. In previous years it was easily possible to pick out the top drivers and who was likely to end up in F1, but this year, it only looks like Jules Bianchi to me?

    • BasCB said on 6th May 2010, 12:11

      I feel a little bit the same way. Some drivers having to show something to get a chance, maybe Bianchi, but not sure. Nobody really thrilling like Rosberg, Kovalainen, Hamilton or Hülkenberg.
      But i wasn’t sure about Glock either and he has managed quite well, so lets not give up hope somebody emerges.

    • Kris H. said on 7th May 2010, 12:55

      Yeah, it seems that paying your way into GP2 is still the best way to get a ride, so the quality of the field is pretty poor.

      I took a look at the GP3 field and almost was more impressed by it – Wickens, Bortolotti, Rossi, Hegewald, van der Zande.

  5. Joshy said on 6th May 2010, 14:47

    Fact, GP2 cars look better than the F1 cars.

  6. Chaz said on 7th May 2010, 18:16

    I hope this GP2 season is exciting and eventful…

  7. Tom L. said on 7th May 2010, 20:12

    Damn, no Plamen Kralev?

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