Open season in prospect for GP2 in 2013

2013 GP2 season preview

Marcus Ericsson, DAMS, GP2, Barcelona, 2013Bradley Downton (@Bradley13) takes a look at the GP2 field ahead of the start of the new season in Malaysia this weekend.

Though deserving champions both, neither Davide Valsecchi last year nor Romain Grosjean the year before him were unexpected GP2 champions.

But this season promises to be a more open contest for the title between experienced hands who’ve seen several campaigns already and young talents who are hitting their peak.

Factor in that the teams have two years’ experience with the current chassis and it looks set to be a close-fought season.

Half of the drivers on the Formula One grid this year graduated from GP2, including all bar one of the rookie contingent.

But the race to find their successors never stops and the GP2 field which has assembled in Malaysia for the first round of the season features 26 drivers eager to follow in the footsteps of Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and the rest.

While Formula Renault 3.5 and GP3 have propelled drivers straight to the top flight, GP2 remains the foremost feeder series for F1.

Winter testing indicated this could be a particularly open contest for the championship. Here’s how the field is set for the ninth season of GP2.

Entry List

Team
Driver 1 Driver 2
DAMS Marcus Ericsson Stephane Richelmi
ART Grand Prix James Calado Daniel Abt
Arden International Johnny Cecotto, Jr. Mitch Evans
Racing Engineering Juli??n Leal Fabio Leimer
Carlin Felipe Nasr Jolyon Palmer
Russian Time Sam Bird Tom Dillmann
Caterham Racing Sergio Canamasas Ma Qinghua
Barwa Addax Team Jake Rosenzweig Rio Haryanto
Rapax Stefano Coletti Simon Trummer
Trident Racing Nathanael Berthon* Kevin Ceccon*
Hilmer Motorsport Conor Daly Pal Varhaug
Venezuela GP Lazarus Ren?? Binder Kevin Giovesi
MP Motorsport Adrian Quaife-Hobbs Dani??l de Jong

*Confirmed for the first round only.

Drivers to watch

It’s a must-win season for Marcus Ericsson who is heading into his fourth year in the category. Having moved from the now defunct iSport to reigning champions DAMS, Ericsson will be expected to fight for the title.

Monegasque Stephane Richelmi is alongside him but only has one season under his belt in the under-performing Trident team. A feature race podium in Germany was a highlight and he’s looked a match for Ericsson in testing towards the top of the time sheets.

James Calado, ART, Jerez, 2013Britain’s James Calado remains with ART for a second season and is surely one to watch for the championship. He picked up podiums and wins last year in his rookie season – in which he also claimed rookie of the year – and has been consistently near the top of the times in testing.

Alongside him is Daniel Abt, who faces a learning curve in his first GP2 season but has the benefit of familiarity with the team he drove for in GP3 last year, finishing as runner-up.

Johnny Cecotto Jnr drives for his fifth different team in as many years as joins Arden from Addax. The Venezuelan has shown similar form to countryman Pastor Maldonado, picking up two dominant wins and a second place last season, but with his other results being dramatically further off.

Highly rated GP3 champion Mitch Evans will partner Cecotto this season. The eighteen-year-old New Zealander will be hoping to impress in his debut season but neither Arden has looked particularly quick in testing.

Julian Leal is entering his third season in GP2 and hasn’t exactly set the world alight so far. For the second time in his GP2 career he will be joined by Swiss driver Fabio Leimer, who he teamed up with at Rapax in 2011. This is Leimer’s fourth season and his second with Racing Engineering. A win eluded him last year after a lot of bad luck and the Swiss driver will be hoping that changes this year. While Leimer has been more towards the top of grid in testing, Leal has been more down the bottom and this trend looks set to continue through the season.

Felipe Nasr, Carlin, Jerez, 2013Felipe Nasr was somewhat pushed out of the limelight by champion team mate Davide Valsecchi at DAMS last season but still picked up a handful of podiums in a generally strong rookie campaign. His move to Carlin came as something of a surprise but Nasr has looked consistently quick in testing.

He will be joined by Britain’s Jolyon Palmer who is now in his third season. Palmer got the monkey off his back last year by picking up his first win in the Monaco sprint race but his times in testing have been nothing to write home about. Nasr is expected to lead the team’s title charge but both drivers could be in with a shot.

Russian Time are a late entry into the season after iSport withdrew due to lack of funds. Four drivers were tested in Barcelona and the team signed the quickest of them, Tom Dillmann. He did a half-season of GP2 last year with Rapax, winning in Bahrain.

In a surprise move Russian Time have hired Sam Bird as his team mate. Bird raced in the category in 2010 and 2011, winning just once but scoring strongly in both seasons. He left the series in 2012 to race in the Formula Renault 3.5 championship, finishing third. With a brand new team and two strong drivers, Russian Time could pull off some shocks this year but we won’t really know where they stand until Malaysia.

Spotter’s guide

Calendar

Round Race Circuit Date
1 Malaysia Sepang International Circuit 22nd-24th March
2 Bahrain Bahrain International Circuit 19th-21st April
3 Spain Circuit de Catalunya 10th-12th May
4 Monaco Monte-Carlo 24th-26th May
5 Britain Silverstone 28th-30th June
6 Germany Hockenheimring 5th-7th July
7 Hungary Hungaroring 26th-28th July
8 Belgium Spa-Francorchamps 23rd-25th August
9 Italy Monza 6th-8th September
10 Singapore Marina Bay 20th-22nd September
11 Abu Dhabi Yas Marina Circuit 1st-3rd November

The disappearance of Valencia from the F1 calendar and the scrapping of the extra standalone event in Bahrain sees GP2’s schedule trimmed to 22 races of 11 double-header rounds.

The addition of Abu Dhabi means there will be a break of more than a month between the penultimate and final events.

GP2 testing times

Jerez

Pos Driver Team Best Time Difference Laps
1 Tom Dillmann* Hilmer Motorsport 1:24.400 73
2 Stefano Coletti Rapax 1:24.418 +0.018 128
3 James Calado ART Grand Prix 1:24.525 +0.125 169
4 Fabio Leimer Racing Engineering 1:24.534 +0.134 129
5 Stephane Richelmi DAMS 1:24.604 +0.204 173
6 Felipe Nasr Carlin 1:24.691 +0.291 164
7 Marcus Ericsson DAMS 1:24.712 +0.312 160
8 Sergio Canamasas* Caterham Racing 1:24.963 +0.563 161
9 Kevin Giovesi* Venezuela GP Lazarus 1:24.967 +0.567 163
10 Ren?? Binder Venezuela GP Lazarus 1:24.976 +0.576 122
11 Simon Trummer Rapax 1:25.023 +0.623 175
12 Nathanael Berthon* Trident Racing 1:25.059 +0.659 105
13 Jake Rosenzweig Barwa Addax Team 1:25.243 +0.843 168
14 Mitch Evans Arden International 1:25.258 +0.858 170
15 Jolyon Palmer Carlin 1:25.276 +0.876 163
16 Johnny Cecotto, Jr. Arden International 1:25.292 +0.892 157
17 Daniel Abt ART Grand Prix 1:25.312 +0.912 155
18 Juli??n Leal Racing Engineering 1:25.318 +0.918 175
19 Robin Frijns* Trident Racing 1:25.335 +0.935 123
20 Pal Varhaug* Hilmer Motorsport 1:25.391 +0.991 109
21 Dani??l de Jong MP Motorsport 1:25.506 +1.106 149
22 Adrian Quaife-Hobbs MP Motorsport 1:25.604 +1.204 153
23 Ma Qing Hua* Caterham Racing 1:25.800 +1.400 171
24 Rio Haryanto Barwa Addax Team 1:26.398 +1.998 175

*Not signed to a team at the time of the test.

Circuit de Catalunya test times

Pos. Driver Team Best Time Difference Laps
1 Stefano Coletti Rapax 1:29.055 118
2 Marcus Ericsson DAMS 1:29.217 +0.162 181
3 Felipe Nasr Carlin 1:29.381 +0.326 148
4 Stephane Richelmi DAMS 1:29.453 +0.398 180
5 Jolyon Palmer Carlin 1:29.467 +0.412 134
6 Sergio Canamasas* Caterham Racing 1:29.611 +0.556 180
7 James Calado ART Grand Prix 1:29.624 +0.569 190
8 Kevin Giovesi* Venezuela GP Lazarus 1:29.812 +0.757 122
9 Tom Dillmann* Russian Time 1:29.843 +0.788 150
10 Fabio Leimer Racing Engineering 1:29.862 +0.807 137
11 Mitch Evans Arden International 1:29.902 +0.847 161
12 Adrian Quaife-Hobbs MP Motorsport 1:29.914 +0.859 162
13 Robin Frijns* Trident Racing 1:29.951 +0.896 54
14 Daniel Abt ART Grand Prix 1:29.994 +0.939 172
15 Dani??l de Jong MP Motosport 1:30.037 +0.982 168
16 Robin Frijns* Russian Time 1:30.053 +0.998 53
17 Pal Varhaug* Hilmer Motorsport 1:30.300 +1.245 104
18 Johnny Cecotto, Jr. Arden International 1:30.323 +1.268 141
19 Conor Daly* Hilmer Motorsport 1:30.417 +1.362 133
20 Ren?? Binder Venezuela GP Lazarus 1:30.454 +1.399 130
21 Juli??n Leal Racing Engineering 1:30.601 +1.546 165
22 Jake Rosenzweig Barwa Addax Team 1:30.620 +1.565 160
23 Simon Trummer Rapax 1:30.667 +1.612 188
24 Riccardo Agostini* Hilmer Motorsport 1:30.724 +1.669 77
25 Rio Haryanto Barwa Addax Team 1:30.813 +1.758 168
26 Rodolfo Gonzalez Trident Racing 1:31.029 +1.974 132
27 Ma Qing Hua Caterham Racing 1:31.035 +1.980 203
28 Luciano Bacheta* Russian Time 1:32.712 +3.657 49
29 Christopher Zanella* Russian Time 1:53.772 +24.717 35

*Not signed to a team at the time of the test.

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 2013.

Over to you

What do you think of the strength of this year’s GP2 field? Who’s your tip for the title – and a future in F1?

Have your say in the comments.

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28 comments on Open season in prospect for GP2 in 2013

  1. ShaneB457 (@shaneb12345678910) said on 21st March 2013, 18:09

    Is GP2 being shown on any other channels apart from Sky Sports F1? Eurosport perhaps?

  2. Enigma (@enigma) said on 21st March 2013, 18:23

    Strong grid, interested in what the likes of Calado, Nasr, Evans, Abt, Quaife-Hobbs and Dillmann can do, as well as whether Bird, Leimer and Ericsson can challenge for the title. Should be good!

  3. andae23 (@andae23) said on 21st March 2013, 18:25

    … Leal has been more down the bottom and this trend looks set to continue through the season.

    Euphemism of the year! :) Great article, Bradley!

    The GP2 field looks better than last year’s field of disappointments. ART’s and Russian Time’s line-up looks particularly impressive. I’m also very interested to see how Evans will do this year, as I still think he could be a future F1 race winner. Notable exception to the grid is the reigning FR3.5 champion, Robin Frijns. He tested with Trident, but he hasn’t found a team for some reason. Let’s hope he either will do a lot of running with Sauber, or pick up a seat in GP2 (or FR3.5 for that matter) mid-season.

  4. JamieFranklinF1 (@jamiefranklinf1) said on 21st March 2013, 19:09

    Great article @Bradley13, definitely sets the scene nicely for the GP2 season. Maybe I’ll actually watch this one!

  5. Nice pictures of the car, quite a sight for our sore eyes as I only get to see the F1 cars. Don’t follow GP2, put some more pics sometime. Nice liveries.

  6. mrgrieves (@mrgrieves) said on 21st March 2013, 19:12

    Especially after wining the 3.5 title last year, the first Rookie to do so since Kubica and beating the far more experienced Jules Bianci, Who already looks at home in F1 after 1 test and 1 race weekend

  7. Nice pictures of the cars, quite a sight for our sore eyes as I only get to see the F1 cars. Don’t follow GP2, put some more pics sometime. Nice liveries.

  8. hobbsy009 (@hobbsy009) said on 21st March 2013, 19:18

    I like GP2, but I think it would be doing itself a favour if the teams varied their liveries a bit more. Most are some mix of blue and/or white, which I find pretty hard to distinguish between. For more casual supporters, it would be a lot easier for bolder colour schemes, such as DAMS

    • Tomas Andersson said on 21st March 2013, 20:06

      I totally agree. To warm myself up for this years I spending this weeks evenings watching 2012 series and loving it. I’m watching Sky recordings and I’m very impressed with the commentary.

      Looking forward to a fantastic racing weekend with F1, GP2 and Indy.

      My eyes will be in 16:9 format after this weekend.

  9. KiwiUK (@kiwiuk) said on 21st March 2013, 19:20

    I think Calado stands in good stead for the championship this year, having already proven he has the speed and consistency necessary to challenge towards the front of the grid. He had rotten luck last year with poorly timed safety cars and a bout of food poisoning affecting his results, but he was always a match for his more experienced and highly rated teammate Gutierrez right until the end of the season.

  10. Bleu (@bleu) said on 21st March 2013, 20:49

    Having watched most of the races past few years, I think the grid seems stronger than last year. Five of last year’s top six is gone, but I see most of them more like journeymen. Even though Valsecchi was the champion, of those five I rate Gutierrez highest.

    Now looking at top five new or returning drivers, I would put there Evans, Daly, Abt, Bird and Quaife-Hobbs.

    Hopefully we see a good battle going all the way to Abu Dhabi.

  11. Tango (@tango) said on 21st March 2013, 21:04

    If only top 5 of FR3.5 could mix it with top 15 of GP2. That would be awesome. I wonder how the still very young Evans and Abt will end up? I enjoyed last year’s GP3 season and both were quite above the rest of the field. I kinda hoped AFDCosta wouldn’t have gone for the title in FR 3.5 (morally, last year’s was his really) and tried the GP2 field indeed. Another point : where will Frijns end up ?

  12. James (@goodyear92) said on 21st March 2013, 21:21

    My tip for the title is James Calado. I watched my first full season of GP2 racing last year (thanks to Sky Sports F1), and was shouting for him within the first couple of races. He was massively impressive and robbed of quite a few would-be-stellar results (Valencia springs to mind), but still managed some sensational races untroubled, like Germany. He outperformed Esteban completely. If I remember correctly, Esteban’s only two wins came courtesy of Safety Cars that robbed others of the lead and left him ahead of the pack. He inherited Calado’s win at Valencia and Fabio’s at Silverstone, I think.

  13. Matt (@hollidog) said on 21st March 2013, 21:51

    Supporting Mitch Evans all the way! Hoping he can score consistent points and a few podiums in his first year. Also watching what Calado, Quaife-Hobbs, Dillman and Nasr can do. Going to be a great season! I almost enjoy the support categories more than F1 sometimes.

  14. wsrgo (@wsrgo) said on 22nd March 2013, 1:19

    @bradley13 Erm…you forgot a certain Monegasque who topped 2 days of pre-season testing..the last time someone did that for Rapax was Pastor Maldonando..

  15. In many ways I enjoy GP2 more than F1. Always high intense races. Overtaking could sometimes be too wild. But you do spot those upcoming, raw talented and fearless drivers. Sometimes, when I have recorded the race I will use FastForward during a F1 race but never on a GP2.

    Will watch all training, qualification and both races on every weekend. Sadly there will be some long periods between some races, but you gonna do?

    Now I only need spring to come to Sweden so I can take out my Toycar for some action.

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