2nd February 2013, 23:09
GP2 in 2013
I don't know, how many people here are interested in GP2 and bothered to discuss.
But the season is nearing and the line-ups are gradually getting confirmed. I think the main players have already been confirmed, so perhaps it would be good to make the first preview of what to expect.
I think 2012 was largely a disappointment in terms of the depth of the driver field. „Dinosaur“ Valsecchi winning with no-one considering him to be even good enough to definitely deserve an F1 drive. Razia, Gutiérrez, Chilton, van der Garde moved to F1, but are viewed as nothing more than average paydrivers. With perhaps only Gutiérrez considered to have at least some potential to get somewhere.
So 2013 has everything to gain and nothing to lose any more really. We have a couple of interesting rookies (Abt, Evans), a few exciting young drivers, who are entering their second season (Calado, Nasr). We have a few more experienced challengers as well, but I think those four can still really prove themselves as proper future F1 caliber drivers.
Who are going to challenge for the championship?
For Ericsson it is quite frankly now or never. He is in the prime seat. DAMS has won the last two championships. Last year he was also in a top team – iSport – but disappointed. Now he has to make it happen, although I suspect his prospects as a future F1 hotshot have already faded.
Calado enters his second season in GP2 and everyone, who beat him last year, has moved on. It is hard to look past him as a major championship contender with now a little bit more experience under his belt. But the most critical part for him in terms of career progression isn't even the final result (as long as he is among frontrunners), but funding... and where could he possibly find it to propel into F1...
Leimer? Like Ericsson, the Swiss enters his fourth season. Last year he was pretty impressive and I think he was quite unlucky as well. In terms of qualifying results he was one of the best, but many races were ruined. If lady luck doesn't abandon him and he can retain and improve on his consistent form, he will have to be taken into account at the front of the field.
Nasr? His debut season reminded a bit of Gutiérrez. Mighty expectations, but didn't quite deliver on the promise. 2013 should be an obvious improvement to justify the hype. However, along with Cecotto Jr he is probably among the best-funded current GP2 drivers, so even with a slight deficiency in results he should be part of the F1 silly season next year.
Second tier. A championship may be a long shot, but should be contenders for occasional wins and top6 position in the final standings.
Two rookies. Evans and Abt, first and second in GP2. Past years have proven, how incredibly difficult it is for the rookies to come in and be instantly competitive. Replicating Hülkenberg's 2009 season might be a long shot. I think if Mitch and Daniel can finish in the top6 in the championship and/or roughly replicate Calado's debut season last year, they will have done very well indeed.
Palmer. Reminds a bit of his compatriot Chilton. Nothing more than average, but by gaining experience each year can finally reach a level, where he can get quite solid results. Don't expect a championship from Jolyon, but a top6 placing is possible.
Haryanto. The Indonesian is still one of the youngest drivers in the field as he enters his second season. I think his debut season was quite fine, he has joined a very high-profile team (Barwa) and should be quite competent. Even if not championship-material (yet).
Cecotto Jr. A rather erratic 2012 saw him getting a few race wins and many non-scores. However, the Venezuelan has some speed and with some additional maturity this year could find some more consistency and points to his overall tally.
Others? Richelmi, Rosenzweig, Coletti can perhaps have a few impressive weekends and compete for a top10 position in the championship. Especially Richelmi. After all, he is now in a top team. I was also thinking of adding him into the „second tier“ description.
And wonder, who else is going to be confirmed. Especially in iSport.