I wonder if the car/series is responsible for some of the yo-yo effect seen in GP2. This year the tyres are open – you can guarantee a Feature podium and screw over your Sprint chances – where the Feature top 8 are flipped for the Sprint grid. If it was stuck like in F1, there would be a more representative championship standings. I always wonder if the car itself is a tough beast to tame, requiring time to get used to consistently, with the lack of power steering and seemingly heavy weight. FR 3.5 looks more like a nimble race car, and it and FR 2.0 seem like the old levels of F3000 and F3 or F3/F.Ford (similarly with the drivers – as opposed to those who take the long route of entry levels, F3, GP3, GP2).
Frijns is an interesting comparison driver – he has 3 consecutive titles, yet has struggled with making mistakes in GP2 this year. Without his mistakes he would be above Lancaster in the championship standings for sure. I’m sure he can battle for the title next year, with Nasr (if still there), Ericsson (if still there), Rossi, Evans etc.
Bird I can see being the permanent Mercedes test/FP1 driver next year. Hartley is the sim driver and it seems Davidson is also. So they are flush with drivers if they need a backup (all 3 could take that on, maybe Davidson is too old now, but I always felt he was unlucky). Bird has had good backing and apart from struggling in the F3 Euro Series has usually been almost there or thereabouts. Maybe just below F1 standard – so test/FP1 driver fits him well. He’s probably in the form of his life this year and last – but you could also say the same about Max Chilton. Who knows which going forwards has more to show. Also, arguably he has had 4 years, not 6 seasons, in the GP2/FR 3.5 feeder series, coming consistently 5th, 6th, 3rd and now 2nd.
Let’s hope Magnussen gets FP1s at the very least next year – I’d hate to see him end up in the same situation as his dad. He’s looked very good this year. But it’s hard to know with McLaren – where is there for their drivers to generally go?