Giedo van der Garde, Caterham, GP2, 2012

2012 GP2 preview: Biggest ever season for F1’s feeder series

GP2Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Giedo van der Garde, Caterham, GP2, 2012Last year two GP2 drivers earned the chance to race in F1.

Who will follow in the footsteps of Romain Grosjean and Charles Pic in 2012?

Drivers to watch

At least two drivers can consider this their ‘must-win’ years in GP2. Davide Valsecchi and Giedo van der Garde are heading into their fifth and fourth seasons respectively at this level.

Valsecchi has joined DAMS, who won the title last year with Grosjean. Meanwhile van der Garde has taken Valsecchi’s place at Caterham, which competed as Team AirAsia last year.

Success in GP2 often serves as a ticket to F1 but not if you take too long to put your name on a trophy – as Giorgio Pantano learned the hard way.

Valsecchi’s team mate is reigning British Formula Three champion Felipe Nasr. The Brazilian driver impressed in the Daytona 24 Hours in January and is definitely one to keep an eye on.

ART have become Lotus GP over the winter and have a very exciting line-up. James Calado has been promoted to their GP2 squad despite being beaten to the GP3 crown by team mate (and Williams test driver) Valtteri Bottas last year.

2012 GP2 driversHe partners Sauber reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez who impressed in his first season of GP2 last year despite some poor luck.

A pair of third-year drivers also looking to make title tilts are Fabio Leimer, who’s moved to Racing Engineering, and Marcus Ericsson, who remains at iSport.

Keep an eye also on Coloni’s promising Stefano Coletti, who won twice last year and tested for Toro Rosso.

But the presence of drivers like Ricardo Teixeira and Rodolfo Gonzalez, who have consistently failed to perform at this level does not reflect well on GP2. Especially while the likes of F3 Euro Series champion Roberto Mehri and Macau Grand Prix winner Daniel Juncadella ply their trade elsewhere,

The loss of top drivers like Jules Bianchi and Sam Bird to Formula Renault 3.5 further damages GP2’s claim to be F1’s foremost feeder series. But this is still one of the best places to see the stars of the future in action.

2012 GP2 drivers

Team Driver 1 Driver 2
Addax Johnny Cecotto Josef Kral
DAMS Davide Valsecchi Felipe Nasr
Racing Engineering Fabio Leimer Nathanael Berthon
iSport Marcus Ericsson Jolyon Palmer
Lotus GP James Calado Esteban Gutierrez
Caterham Rodolfo Gonzalez Giedo van der Garde
Coloni Stefano Coletti Fabio Onidi
Trident Stephane Richelmi Julian Leal
Venezuela GP Lazarus Fabrizio Crestani Giancarlo Serenelli
Rapax Ricardo Teixeira Tom Dillmann
Arden Simon Trummer Luiz Razia
Ocean Jon Lancaster Nigel Melker
Carlin Max Chilton Rio Haryanto

Teams changes

Super Nova have dropped out of the series and their place has been taken by newcomers Venezuela GP Lazarus.

The resolution of the Lotus naming row has had an effect on GP2 as well.

Lotus GP, which was called ART last year and raced in green and yellow, are now black and gold, matching their Formula 1 counterparts. That leaves Caterham using green and yellow, the same as their F1 sister team.

2012 GP2 calendar

Round Race Circuit Date
1 Malaysia Sepang International Circuit March 23rd-25th
2 Bahrain Bahrain International Circuit April 20th-22nd
3 Bahrain Bahrain International Circuit April 26th-28th
4 Spain Circuit de Catalunya May 11-13th
5 Monaco Monte-Carlo May 24-26th
6 Europe Valencia June 22nd-24th
7 Britain Silverstone July 6-8th
8 Germany Hockenheimring July 20th-22nd
9 Hungary Hungaroring July 27-29th
10 Belgium Spa-Francorchamps August 31st-September 2nd
11 Italy Monza September 7-9th
12 Singapore Marina Bay September 21st-23rd

The 24-race calendar is the biggest ever for GP2. Following the demise of GP2 Asia, the series sports an expanded calendar this year with races in Malaysia, Bahrain and Singapore.

While this promises to offer better preparation for aspiring F1 drivers, it has also placed an added financial burden on teams.

After supporting the F1 race weekend in Bahrain the teams will remain at the track for another week for a further two races, which will be their only standalone race meeting of the year.

Rules changes for 2012

GP2 is heading into the second season with the current version of its chassis. But while the cars remain the same, there have been some significant other rules changes.

Drivers will have to manage their tyre allocations during race weekends just as F1 drivers do. They will have three sets of harder tyres and one set of softer tyres for the whole weekend.

The rules require them to make a pit stop in the longer feature race and use the harder tyres in the sprint race.

The points system has also been revised for 2012 as follows:

Position Feature race Sprint race
1 25 15
2 18 12
3 15 10
4 12 8
5 10 6
6 8 4
7 6 2
8 4 1
9 2
10 1
Pole position: 4 points; Fastest lap: 2 points (per race)

Spotters guide

Pictures of all the teams’ liveries:

Following GP2

You can follow GP2 on F1 Fanatic Live during the races this year.

We also have a dedicated group and forum for GP2 fans:

And you can find a list of GP2 drivers and teams on Twitter here:

In the UK, GP2 will be broadcast live on the Sky Sports F1 channel in 2012.

GP2 in 2012: Your view

Who’s your tip for the GP2 title this year? Which of the drivers looks worthy of a place in F1?

Have your say in the comments.

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