The 2013 Formula 1 season is coming closer and closer. This year, there will be 4 drivers on the grid who have graduated from the GP2 series: Esteban Gutierrez, Max Chilton, Luiz Razia and Giedo Van Der Garde. Along with these drivers, last year's GP2 champion Davide Valsecchi joined Lotus' as their third driver. This confirms that GP2 definitely is the strongest feeder series before taking the big step to Formula 1. We analyze how GP2, is the cause of pay driver scenario, and which drivers will make it big in this season..
The way to GP2 isn't always easy, as a seat costs around 2 million euros for one season. This makes it very important for young drivers to have strong sponsors when they enter the series. Sponsors often want to keep sponsoring their drivers when they get into Formula 1, so this is the reason why there are many so called pay drivers these days. In small F1 teams money is always welcome, so this gives an advantage to GP2 youngsters to make the final step to their dream, to Formula 1. And if a driver is talented, brings results and also money... it's hard to say no for a driver then, isn't it? If drivers are talented enough, they will take the step forward to be a top driver. This is how it goes today, some sponsors can have a very long partnership with a driver, supporting his career.
And as the new F1 season is in the horizon, it means that a GP2 season is starting soon, too. The series will start at Malaysia at the same time when F1 arrives to Malaysia. Who should we look after this year? Who might be the next Formula 1 star? That's what we are going to find out next.
The young Brazilian driver arrived to the GP2 series last season as a rookie, with DAMS Racing, and is definitely one to look for this season and one of the title challengers. For this season, he has joined Carlin team. Carlin is the same team Nasr won the British Formula 3 championship with, back in 2011. Nasr and the team have very successful past behind and they know each others very well. I believe this will be a big advantage for Nasr, to work with a familiar team who will fully support him. He had very good rookie season with some podiums and many amazing races. He is very consistent driver and rarely makes mistakes, though the season also wasn't one without problems. In many races, he was dropped to the back for different reasons, but he was able to fight himself back to points. He even received a throphy after the season for his many great come backs. Nasr made a big step as he moved to GP2 straight from Formula 3, without doing GP3 for example. He learned fast and is now much more experienced with the car and with Pirelli tyres. The young Brazilian for sure is hungry for victories and good results this year, and the objective is to be the GP2 champion together with his team.
A British driver who also joined GP2 last year as a rookie. Calado came from the GP3 series, where he was the runner up to the championship in 2011. In 2012, Calado raced with Lotus ART as Esteban Gutierrez's team mate and will continue with the same team this season, so the team is already familiar for him. Calado also had a strong rookie season and scored a victory on his first weekend in GP2 series, as he won the sprint race at Malaysia. He made some mistakes through the season, but showed his potential and his speed. Calado for sure has the same objective as Nasr, to be the champion this year. Nasr and Calado already had some great battles on the track last season and I believe the same will continue this year. Both are more experienced now, and I will be surprised if the title fight won't be between these two guys. Of course, these two will get some challenge from other hungry drivers.
The Swede will start his 4th season in the GP2 series this year. For this season he will join DAMS, the team that Davide Valsecchi won the championship for in 2012, and Romain Grosjean in 2011. Knowing DAMS' way, I believe they are trying to support Ericsson to be the champion, as he has many years in the series already. The team did the same with Valsecchi last year, they focused on him more than the rookie Nasr. I really think that this starts to be the final chance for Ericsson to impress, as he has been around for long time now. With DAMS' support, he might be able to join the title fight. He sometimes has strong races, I think what he needs is more consistency. Ericsson really started to imporve his consistency in the end of last season, and I believe he will use his experience this year. Very likely to be a title contender with Nasr and Calado.
Evans joins GP2 this year as a rookie. The New Zealander won the GP3 championship in 2012 and joins the Arden team, the team that Luiz Razia became vice champion of the series last year. Evans raced for Arden also in the GP3 series, so the team is already familiar for him. Having experience from a series that is similar to GP2 and that uses the same tires, is surely some kind of advantage for him. And as he was the champion, I expect him to have a good debut season. Maybe he won't be fighting for the championship, but is possibly a podium challenger at times, even a victory challenger if everything goes right. The time will tell how Evans will do.
Another rookie that arrives from the GP3 series. Abt finished 2nd in the 2012 championship after Evans, and joins the GP2 series as James Calado's team mate. The ART team looks very competitive this year again, with one driver who has a bit experience from the series, and a competitive new comer. In the GP3 series he was quite consistent and I expect him to have similar chances as Evans. Of course, Evans and Abt are both rookies and need time to get used to with the car.
In general GP2 is a very interesting racing series that I would recommend to everyone who loves F1 and motorsports. You will get to know the future stars of Formula 1, and see their style of driving. These youngsters want to impress the F1 teams and fans around the World, as all the races are held during the same weekend with Formula 1. This usually leads to very interesting battles. Also, GP2 has quite similar rules to F1, and has same tyres, and the same stewards. A practice, and qualifying session of 30 minutes at Friday followed by a long race with pitstop at Saturday, and a shorter sprint race on Sunday without a pitstop. Biggest differences are that in the first race on Saturday, drivers have to make one pitstop. Everybody needs to do it or they will be punished. They have to change at least 2 tyres on the pitstop although the drivers don't have to use both compounds of tyres as in F1. On the second race at Sunday, drivers don't need to make a pitstop. The starting grid for the Sunday's race is different. The top 8 from Saturday's race will be the top 8 on the starting grid, but other way round. 8th on the race starts from pole on Sunday, etc. 9th and forward will start from the same position as they finished on the Saturday's race.
It's easy to fall in love with this series. It's real racing, without politics. Everyone has paid for their seats and will try to do their best on the track, and on the limit.