GP2 or Formula Renault 3.5 – which has the strongest grid in 2012?
24th February 2012, 11:42 at 11:42 am #130970
Two GP2 race winners with strong F1 connections have switched to Formula Renault 3.5 this year: first Jules Bianchi, now Sam Bird.
This is inevitably going to fuel the debate over the comparative qualities between the GP2 and Formula Renault 3.5 grids this year. GP2 has often had a stronger line-up but Formula Renault 3.5 is clearly growing in popularity and seems to be the preferred route for Red Bull’s driver development programme.
New GP2 driver James Calado just posted this on Twitter:
Have to say world series renault looks very strong this year.
Which championship do you think has the best line-up? Here’s how they stand at present:24th February 2012, 11:50 at 11:50 am #194000
I think FR3.5 is shaping up to be the stronger of the two simply because GP2 is so expensive these days. But if we could somehow take the best of the 3.5 grid and the best of the GP2 grid and merge them together, then I’d say we’d have a very competitive category.24th February 2012, 13:29 at 1:29 pm #194001
There’s just no contest. GP2 is destroying itself by failing to keep costs down (flyaway races?!) and as such the 3.5 grid trumps it hands down for talent. From GP2 I’d be interested to see Ericsson, the Lotus ART boys and Nasr in the 3.5 field. The rest… they range from nothing special to poor. Maybe Kral and Coletti are worth a go too but Cecotto? Max Chilton?! Spare me.
That’s not to say 3.5 doesn’t have a few dreamers, but they’re fewer on the ground. Dani Move needs to, err, move on; Grubmuller’s never going to be any good; and Pons’ line-up is dire. Looks like a GP2 line-up, in fact.
Problem is this: for all the great drivers in 3.5, where’s the 2011 champ? On the sidelines while a rich GP2 graduate races for Marussia, the team who backed him last season (no offence to Pic, but surely Wickens is the more ready for F1).
As F1 costs continue to rise only rich drivers will be able to get a foot in the door (exceptions for Red Bull Jrs and a few other chosen ones). GP2 is the series for mega rich drivers, and those are the guys who’ll take F1 seats in 2013 and onwards. I’m looking at the likes of van der Garde, Valsecchi et al, decent pro racers but never in a million years F1 champs in the making.
So I guess GP2 can continue to lay claim to the ‘F1’s strongest feeder series’ tagline – if only by dint of the fact that only super wealthy drivers can race there and thus move into F1.24th February 2012, 23:08 at 11:08 pm #194002
@jholland – the idea behind having flyaway races in GP2 is to position the category halfway between Formula 1 and GP3 by giving drivers a wider range of circuits, including those that they have never driven before. It’s a nice idea, and it’s cheaper than GP2 Asia. I think the real cost-related problem in the series is the way teams are flooded with under-achieving racers who have bought their seats, driving the price up.
Like I said, if we could take the FR3.5 and GP2 grids and merge them together so that only the best drivers would be racing, this is what I think we’d wind up with:
From FR3.5 – Rossi, Magnussen, Frijns, Huertas, Bird, Bianchi and Korjus
From GP2 – Kral, Nasr, Calado, Gutierrez, Melker, Haryanto and Ericsson
And maybe pick up some of the promising drivers from GP3 as well – Visiou, Ellinas, and Evans, with Robert Wickens and Robert Merhi thrown in for good measure.
That would be a feeder series worth watching.24th February 2012, 23:12 at 11:12 pm #194003
Did Bianchi not move just because he couldn’t risk failing in the same series again, having originally been billed as a great talent who would win GP2?25th February 2012, 0:00 at 12:00 am #194004
Bianchi moved because GP2 races occur on the same weekends as Grands Prix, so Bianchi elected to race in FR3.5 so as not to interfere with his Force India testing programme. That is why Red Bull stuck Ricciardo in the World Series for a second year as opposed to GP2.25th February 2012, 0:26 at 12:26 am #194005
Exactly – any driver who takes part in any session of a Grand Prix is not allowed to compete in GP2 for that same weekend.25th February 2012, 0:50 at 12:50 am #194006
Oh right, I didn’t know that. Makes sense I suppose.25th February 2012, 10:41 at 10:41 am #194007
Was having a discussion about that with Will Buxton on Twitter yesterday. Last year Daniel Ricciardo raced in Formula Renault 3.5 race at Monaco on the same weekend he drove for Toro Rosso in Thursday practice. He dominated the race…25th February 2012, 11:02 at 11:02 am #194008
Did he drive the Toro Rosso on the same day as driving in his Formula Renault? I suppose with GP2 there’d be a strong likelihood that if you ran in a single F1 practice session it would be on the same day as doing some GP2 practice or qualifying. And perhaps doing two series on the same day is frowned upon, which makes sense as you don’t want the attention of a driver split, and each session must require a lot of pre- and post-session analysis, which could clash.25th February 2012, 11:05 at 11:05 am #194009
Last year Daniel Ricciardo raced in Formula Renault 3.5 race at Monaco on the same weekend he drove for Toro Rosso in Thursday practice.
As far as I can tell, the rule preventing a driver from running in Formula 1 and GP2 only applies to GP2. Monaco is the only Grand Prix where Formula Renault 3.5 is on the support bill, so it’s not really a problem. Especially with half the 2012 grid having raced in GP2 at some point.
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