2013 GP2 Season Preview

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2013 GP2 Season Preview

Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Timo Glock, Nico Hulkenberg, Pastor Maldonado, Romain Grosjean… a list of drivers who have won the GP2 Series and progressed into Formula 1.  In fact, since the series’ inception in 2005, only two champions haven’t made it – Giorgio Pantano & current champ Davide Valsecchi, though the latter has a third driver role at Lotus in his pocket.  GP2 is often thought about as the last stepping stone in a driver’s career before F1.  More than half of the current field of F1 drivers have at some point been in GP2.

So what do we make of this year’s talent, of this year’s crop of potentially future F1 stars?  DAMS have provided the last two champions of the series in Valsecchi & Grosjean, so you’d imagine that they’d be in contention for the hat-trick.  They’ve acquired the services of Swede Marcus Ericsson, now into his fourth season of GP2, and Monegasque driver Stephane Richelmi, who’ll be entering his third, so the experience is there.  However, can the two drivers be consistent and challenge at the front on a regular basis?  Thats always been the sticking point for both drivers.

ART Grand Prix perhaps have the championship favourite on their books for 2013 in James Calado.  He is the highest placed driver from the 2012 season to return, and remains in the team that in his rookie season enabled him to win two races and challenge for the championship to very near the end of the season.  His teammate is GP3 runner up from 2012, German driver Daniel Abt.  He was ever so close to the championship in GP3 last year, and remains in the same team, though in more powerful cars.  Calado should be challenging for regular wins, now he’s had the experience of a year in the sport, whilst Abt’s aims should be to have a strong & consistent year.

The GP3 Champion of 2012 also remains in the same team as last year but in more powerful cars – Mark Webber protégé Mitch Evans at Arden International.  He was favourite for the GP3 championship in 2012 and didn’t disappoint.  Like Abt he’ll need to have a strong year.  His teammate likewise will need consistency, something Johnny Cecotto Jr hasn’t had in his three previous campaigns.  In 2012 it was a case of all or nothing, winning a couple of races but disappearing in numerous others.

Racing Engineering have kept Swiss driver Fabio Leimer on board for another year, teaming him up with Romanian Julian Leal.  For Leimer its perhaps last chance saloon for a shot at the championship, he so nearly left GP2 for DTM this year.  For Leal, he needs to prove he can compete at the front, something he hasn’t been able to accomplish so far in his GP2 career.

British team Carlin Racing have another strong pairing in Brazilian Felipe Nasr & Brit Jolyon Palmer.  Nasr rejected an offer from Red Bull to join their junior stable last year, but impressed in his rookie year in 2012.  Now he rejoins a team that he enjoyed success with in junior categories, and should be one of the favourites up front.  Palmer has a couple of years experience now in the series, and won his first race in Monaco last year, and should be pushing for podiums & wins.  Carlin are certainly a team to look out for in 2013.

RUSSIAN TIME replaced former team champions iSport International during the off season in GP2, and in their first year have hired another potentially strong line-up in series returnee Sam Bird & French driver Tom Dillmann.  For a rookie team, they’ve got a good chance of challenging for wins & the championship with that line-up, both should be up front on a regular basis, and we all know Bird  can overtake.

Caterham Racing have taken on promising Spaniard Sergio Canamasas & HRT refugee Ma Qinghua for 2013, a move that indicates they need the Chinese drivers money.  Only time will tell if he’s good enough for the big league having not shown too much in his free practice sessions for HRT in 2012.  Canamasas however has some potential, and could be challenging for points during the season.

Barwa Addax have signed American driver Jake Rosenzweig & Indonesian driver Rio Haryanto for their 2013 campaign.  The American has spent the last couple of years in Formula Renault and now heads to the F1 support series to ply his trade.  Haryanto has left the Marussia junior set-up to join Barwa Addax, a move that surprised a lot of people in the paddock.  Both drivers should be in the midfield, perhaps challenging for points on occasion.

Rapax have signed a couple of solid drivers, who on their day can challenge for race wins.  The second Monegasque driver in the series Stefano Coletti returns for a third full season to GP2, whilst Swiss driver Simon Trummer advances from GP3.

Trident Racing have so far only confirmed Nathanael Berthon & Kevin Ceccon for the opening race of the season as they try and get drivers with sponsorship to drive for them.  Berthon had a few strong races in 2012 for Racing Engineering, whilst Ceccon spent 2012 in GP3.

Hilmer Motorsport are another team making their debut in the GP2 series in 2013.  They, like Trident, are seeking drivers with a bit of sponsorship it seems, but seemed to have struck it lucky with Conor Daly, if indeed he’s given the drive full-time.  His teammate is currently unconfirmed but it looks increasingly likely to be series returnee Pal Varhaug.  Both could surprise on occasion in 2013.

Austrian driver Rene Binder & Italian Kevin Giovesi make up the Venezuela GP Lazarus team.  Binder made his debut for this team towards the end of 2012, whilst Giovesi is only 19 and comes on the back of winning the European F3 Open Copa Class.  I can’t see them doing that great, but am expecting them to be around the mid-field battle.

The final team is MP Motorsport, the third & final new team for 2013.  They’ve hired reigning Auto GP driver Adrian Quaife-Hobbs & Dutchman Daniel de Jong for their line-up.  Quaife-Hobbs in particular should shine, and should push for points, podiums and perhaps wins.  De Jong should hopefully build on the few races he competed in during 2012 for Rapax.

2013 GP2 Series Calendar

Round 1+2: Malaysia – 23/24 March; 3+4: Bahrain – 20/21 April, 5+6: Circuit de Catalunya – 11/12 May; 7+8: Monaco – 25/26 May; 9+10: Silverstone – 29/30 June; 11+12: Nurburgring – 06/07 July; 13+14: Hungaroring – 27/28 July; 15+16: Spa Francorchamps – 24/25 August; 17+18: Monza – 07/08 September; 19+20: Singapore – 21/22 September; 21+22: Abu Dhabi – 02/03 November.

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