Guest Author - Christine Blachford
The GP2 series began in 2005, after Formula 3000 disappeared. Itís a feeder series for Formula 1, meaning it follows some of the calendar, and the drivers often make the step up to F1. The concept of GP2 came from a collaboration between Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore. GP2 is a single chassis series, meaning that the chassis, engines and tyres are all the same, and it is therefore easy to spot true driving talent.
So far, all GP2 champions have made the transition to Formula 1: In 2005, Nico Rosberg won and he is now with Williams. In 2006, Lewis Hamilton took the GP2 title, and is now fighting for the F1 crown as well. In 2007, Timo Glock was GP2 champ, and he now drives for Williams. Also notably, all the runners up became Renault test drivers, with Kovalainen and Piquet both making the jump to full time race driver for the team.
Although the series follows much of the F1 calendar, to make use of the facilities being already set up for racing, the format of the weekend for GP2 is very different. Fridays have two sessions, one is a 30 minute practice, the other a 30 minute qualifying. The qualifying order is for the first race on Saturday, the feature race. Itís 180 kilometres and has a mandatory pit stop, in which two tyres must be changed. The result of the feature race forms the grid for Sundayís sprint race, although the top 8 are reversed. Sundayís race is 120 kilometres.
The points system shares similarities to F1, but is slightly different. There are two points available for pole position on a Friday. The feature race has the same top 8 points as F1. The sprint race rewards only the top 6 finishers, with 6 points through to 1. There is also one point available for the fastest lap in each race.
Personally, I donít watch the GP2 racing. There is a lot more action than in Formula 1, but I am not a huge fan of the single spec series. However, itís always worth keeping an eye on the action and winners of GP2 races, as they are usually the Formula 1 drivers of the future.