The GP2 Series is back for its 10th this weekend, and for the first time in RichardsF1.com’s history, our own Josh Kruse will be providing race-by-race coverage of Formula 1’s feeder championship. Let’s have a look at his season preview ahead of this weekend’s curtain-raiser in Bahrain.
What is the GP2 Series?
A replacement for the International Formula 3000 Championship, the GP2 Series has played host to many fantastic wheel to wheel battles over the years, not to mention nurturing an array of current F1 drivers who include the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Nico Hülkenberg, Romain Grosjean, Sergio Pérez and many more.
Designed to the racing more affordable, the entire field runs on control tyres, chassis and engines so that the final form guide comes down to a pure battle of driving and engineering talent. To boost the championship’s profile, all rounds in 2014 will run as support races over the 2014 Formula 1 season, with every Europe-based Grand Prix set to feature the GP2 Series.
The field has a single practice session on Friday before a 30-minute qualifying session that afternoon. Saturday’s ‘Feature’ race is run over a minimum distance of 180 kilometres, with at least one compulsory pit stop. The drivers must use both the Prime and Option Pirelli tyre compounds supplied in this race.
Sunday sees a separate ‘Sprint’ race, where the top-eight finishers from the ‘Feature’ Race will start in reverse grid order, meaning the eighth-placed finisher gets pole position, and so on. This race is run over a 120 kilometres race distance.
The ‘Feature’ race has the same points’ scoring system as Formula 1 – 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 for the top ten finishers – while the ‘Sprint’ race awards the top eight finishers points on a 15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 scale. The fastest qualifier received an additional 4 championship points, with the driver setting the fastest race lap in each race earning a further 2 points.
The driver who wins the GP2 Series Championship is not allowed to race in the series again, with the aim being to promote up-and-coming drivers into Formula 1. The last two Drivers’ Champions – Davide Valsecchi and Fabio Leimer – have failed to graduate into full-time Formula 1 race seats.
The 2014 Grid
The season will start with seven race winners, 11 podium finishers and nine rookies who all hail from 19 different countries.
Drivers will still be using V8 engines with Pirelli spec tyres, and the series will follow F1 through most of the European leg, to complete 11 races.
Defending Constructor champions Russian Time will field a new line up in 2014, with runner-up Sam Bird leaving the series to join Starworks Motorsport in the United SportsCar Championship. Tom Dillmann also left GP2 to test for Team France in the A1GP-inspired Formula Acceleration 1 series.
Kiwi Mitch Evans and German Formula 3 runner up Artem Markelov will fill their places.
Last year’s GP2 champion Fabio Leimer, who drove for Racing Engineering, has signed with Rebellion racing in the LMP1-L category of the WEC (World Endurance Championship).
Testing for the series wrapped up at Friday of last week, with the top 10 drivers separated by under 0.8 seconds. Judging by such competitive lap times, this weekend in Bahrain will certainly see fantastic driving as 26 young hopefuls battle to do their best to impress F1 team principals.
|Team / Entry||No.||Driver #1||No.||Driver #2|
|RT Russian Time||1.||Mitch Evans||2.||Artem Markelov|
|Carlin Motorsport||3.||Felipe Nasr||4.||Julián Leal|
|Racing Engineering||5.||Raffaele Marciello||6.||Stefano Coletti|
|DAMS||7.||Jolyon Palmer||8.||Stéphane Richelmi|
|ART Grand Prix||9.||Takuya Izawa||10.||Stoffel Vandoorne|
|Hilmer Motorsport||11.||Daniel Abt||12.||Facu Regalia|
|Rapax Team||14.||Adrian Quaife-Hobbs||15.||Simon Trummer|
|Arden International||16.||René Binder||17.||André Negrão|
|EQ8 Caterham Racing||18.||Rio Haryanto||19.||Alexander Rossi|
|MP Motorsport||20.||Daniël de Jong||21.||Jon Lancaster|
|Trident Racing||22.||Axcil Jefferies||23.||Johnny Cecotto Jr|
|Venezuela GP Lazarus||24.||Nathanaël Berthon||25.||Conor Daly|
|Campos Racing||26.||Arthur Pic||27.||Kimiya Sato|
Image via GP2 Media Service