Which of this year’s GP2 drivers – and teams – could be in Formula 1 soon?

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Lucas di Grassi could be the next driver to win the GP2 title en route to F1

The GP2 championship kicks off at the Circuit de Catalunya this weekend with 26 drivers hoping to follow the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Timo Glock and Nico Rosberg into Formula 1.

But it’s not just the drivers who are looking for places in F1 – several of the teams are eyeing a step up under the 2010 budget capping regulations. Which of these names might we see in F1 next year?

Kamui Kobayashi

Toyota test driver and recently-crowned GP2 Asia champion. Kobayashi won the GP2 sprint race at Catalunya last year but didn’t make it to the top step of the podium again throughout the year.

With a strong campaign this year he’s got to be favourite to step up to F1 with one of the Toyota-powered teams, potentially as a replacement for struggling countryman Kazuki Nakajima.

Lucas di Grassi

Championship favourite: he was strong in testing, had an excellent part-season in the GP2 last year, and was runner-up in 2007. Di Grassi drives for Racing Engineering, who took Giorgio Pantano to the title last year.

Di Grassi was dropped from Renault’s test team at the end of last year in favour of Romain Grosjean. But with Fernando Alonso tipped to join Ferrari in 2010, and question marks over Nelson Piquet Jnr’s future with the team, there could be room for di Grassi at Renault yet.

Romain Grosjean

Driving for Addax, which as Campos last year won GP2’s teams title, Grosjean is another tip for the title. And, like di Grassi, he will have his eyes on a Renault drive. We could be in for a highly entertaining battle between the pair.

Nico Hulkenberg

Williams test driver with some impressive credentials from the junior formulae. He won the F3 Euroseries last year comfortably, then in four GP2 Asia starts he took two pole positions out of two, and registered a win, a third and two fourth places.

The GP2 main series runs different chassis, so he might struggle compared to the more experienced drivers early on. But keep an eye on him to see if he manages a Sebastien Buemi-style run of improvement throughout the season, that might entice Williams into taking a punt on him sooner rather than later.

The teams

Paul Jackson, team principal at iSport, has said his team will consider F1’s new budget capping rules before deciding whether to enter the sport.

His team is running last year’s World Series by Renault champion Giedo van der Garde in GP2 this year. But an F1 effort on their part would be likely to include Bruno Senna, who was runner-up in GP2 with iSport last year.

Another team that has been linked to F1 is Addax, which is owned by Spaniard Alejandro Agag. He was linked to a take-over of Super Aguri when the team collapsed last year.

There have also been rumours about the ART team moving up to F1. It is run by Jean Todt’s son Nicolas. And last week Autosport claimed Super Nova was talking to Cosworth about an F1 engine supply.

GP2 is being broadcast on Setanta Sports in Britain this year.

Will you be watching GP2 this year? Who’s your tip for success?

For a guide to all the drivers confirmed so far see here: GP2 2009 drivers and teams in pictures

Image (C) GP2 Media Service / LAT

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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35 comments on “Which of this year’s GP2 drivers – and teams – could be in Formula 1 soon?”

  1. I would like to watch, but don’t want to pay for a package I will only use for one thing =/

    Hopefully, the highlights or anything, will be online somewhere.

  2. The GP2 teams buy their chassis. In F1 they have to design and build theirs, then ensure its competitive. GP2 economics don’t apply in F1.

  3. Yeah I agree. I’d like to watch but apart from motorsport I’m not a sport fan (not to mention I’m a poor student) so paying to watch it isn’t an option :( shame.

  4. Clare msj
    5th May 2009, 8:49

    I am ever so slightly annoyed that GP2 is on Setanta, when GP2 Asia has been on Eurosport, but as I spy they also have DTM on Setanta I am considering paying the extortionate amounts for the Setanta package so I can watch both this year – what with two of my favourite motorsport people being in those two categories this season!

    My tip for success – Nico Hulkenberg – I am a little biased in his favour I admit, but I really do expect him to do well this year. I rate him very highly having watched his career since A1GP a few years ago. I am also hoping very much that he has a full time F1 driver next year, and the GP2 title would help that cause immensely!

    I think with the possiblity of the extra teams next year all four of the guys you mentioned will have a good chance of making the step up to F1 provided they have a good season this year, especially if a GP2 team makes the move up as well. I think iSport may, they have been making the most noice about it from the GP2 teams, i reckon at least one will be there for sure.

    Cant wait for the GP2, there is some quite exciting names in it this year – I’d better get cracking with sorting out Setanta!

  5. Nico Hulkenberg and Alvaro Parente are the two GP2 drivers I’d like to see in F1. Both impressed in A1GP, Nico was great in F3 and Alvaro in FRenault 3.5. Sadly, Parente might have his work cut out for him this year as his team isn’t the best….

  6. What about Karun Chandhok?

    1. 4get bout him, the genius was just too clever in creating enimity with VJ his only hope!

    2. He’s burned his bridges with Force India hasn’t he? And they always looked like his best chance of reaching F1…

    3. Williams 4ever
      6th May 2009, 12:18

      To his credit Karun is good wire puller. I remember him as person who while training and working as trainer at Silverstone complex, managed to poach Engineers of R2R (Raikonnen Roberston Racing). Last I had heard was he had his engineers through Formula BMW Asia (where he had good results), Durango and then with Isports as well.

      VJM is big headed bloke, with all inherited monies clouding his common sense. His rift with Karthikeyan & Chandok stems from the fact that they are part of rival factions in Motorsports Governing body in India. It is sort of NK family-Vs-Chandok Family-Vs- Now Mallya.
      Mallya supported Spanky in “Spank”gate and got his faction approved in FIA. All he and his cronies have done after taking charge of Motorsports in India is systematically crippling the Infrastructure (in form of local racing/karting) setup by earlier committees.
      I wonder what his conscious says when he goes about giving press bites about “Grooming Indian Driver in F1”.

      Chandok & NK can stand chance if Spice group which was interested in backing Super Aguri show some interest in light of new budgest cap. I am pretty sure, NK & Chandok will fare better than the current FIF1 lot

    4. ahem…. VJM is a self made billionaire he never inherited anything big…

  7. The Sri Lankan Senna
    5th May 2009, 11:31

    what about Lola, Prodrive and USGPE

    1. They’re not GP2 teams, and the article is about GP2 teams.

  8. I reckon Prodrive (perhaps as Aston Martin), Lola and ART (with Dallara) are the most likely new entries for Formula One, since all three have production facilities, while neither of the rumoured other teams, including USGPE, have those.

    Driver-wise: either Di Grassi or Grosjean could be in a Renault next season, or could be picked up by one of the new teams, while Kobayashi might replace Nakajima at Williams. But I think Hülkenberg should only consider jumping into F1 in 2010 if he wins the 2009 GP2 titel in a dominant fashion. Otherwise, a second season in the feeder series would be wise.

    1. Last I heard, USGPE was in the process of finalizing the deal for their HQ/factory building. As long as the FIA lets them in (and there’s no reason why they should not) then they will be on the grid.

  9. Apparently Setanta could go tits-up (this is from one of Murdoch’s papers, mind) so it may yet end up on another channel.

    For its own good, I think GP2 needs an outstanding talent to emerge this year – last year the champion (Pantano) was ignored and only one, Buemi, made it to F1 from a slightly underwhelming field.

    With a few more seats on offer, Grosjean and di Grassi should reach F1 if they’re a bit more consistent. If Hulkenberg’s a regular winner, I’d rather see him in the Williams than Nakajima.

    And Piquet GP may have to move up so Nelson jr has somewhere to go…

  10. love the look of the gp2 cars. could f1 use that look again? please?

  11. Álvaro Parente!!

    I would love to see this guy in F1..

    ok… I am Portuguese :)

  12. I don’t care who the “feeder series” feeds as long as they do a year or two in F1 TESTING. I don’t pay to see rookies in training on the F1 grid. What sense does it make to replace Piquet with Grosjean …… Piquet is a slow learner but at least he’s got a two year headstart over the next slow learner.
    Remember Rosberg, Australia 2008, fastest lap of the race and the world was ready for the next champion ….. Rosberg son of Rosberg is going nowhere. Piquet, son of Piquet, enough said, Senna, nephew of Senna, why waste your time/money? Rookies from
    spec racing ….. I’d rather see Davidson, Klein, De la Rosa, Sato in the RACE seats! They’ve already got the experience, they just need a decient car!

    1. You missed Nakajima, son of Nakajima

      $ : )

    2. I don’t care who the “feeder series” feeds as long as they do a year or two in F1 TESTING.

      Given how little scope there is for testing these days, I think that’s a bit optimistic.

      I think it comes down to individual merit. Going straight from GP2 to F1 did Hamilton no harm. When F1 testers get so little seat time these days it’s better to ensure they don’t become race-rusty.

      But I know I won’t be able to convince you on that point 38… :-)

  13. ConcedoNulli
    5th May 2009, 17:20

    Let’s see Adam Carroll in F1. he’s done GP2 well, tested competitively with Honda and won the A1GP.

    1. You are dead right there mate.

      He could be great if someone gave him the chance.

      Who would be the most likely to take him?

      I heard that the man who owns Lola, also owns Mondello Park, so he might like an Irish driver but we’ll see.

    2. I’d like to see Paul di Resta in GP2. I like Carroll but he has already had a shot at it, and more than one for that matter…

  14. I’d like to see Bruno Senna, Álvaro Parente and Lucas di Grassi on F1.
    Álvaro is such an amazing driver,not saying this only because we share nationality, it seems there is a general consensus in the teams he has been in (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RZZ0bgN7hw check out who is the second place driver)
    Bruno,because i love the idea and concept of fighting to show your value/”fiber” no matter your background.
    Di Grassi because he seems one of those drivers who can help a team move forward (why in the world is Piquet and not Lucas on Renault is beyond me)

  15. Cinically I would say it seems token that F1 has a Japanese driver, so if Nakajima stays on then Kobayashi chances are greatly reduced. Otherwise Hulkenberg may have a chance.

    Di Grasse and Grosjean seem to be heavily touted for drives, and if Piquet does not pull his finger out, it may be sooner than expected.

    Seems a shame not to see Bruno Senna and Giorgio Pantano on the GP2 grid, but I guess they are driving other series these days.

    Incidentally, I’m trying to figure out which UK TV station is going to show the GP2 races? I see Setanta Ireland is showing the race but this doesn’t help me. Who else has the rights? I hope i’ll be able to find it on Justin TV…

  16. I think next year we’ll see Adam Carrol, Lucas Di Grassi and Maybe Nico Hulkenburg.

  17. Don’t count out Jérôme d’Ambrosio. He outscored Kobayashi in the main series last year (perhaps a question of chassis?) and would have been closer to him in Asia if not for some bad luck.

  18. I reckon di Grassi will have a shot this year though I prefer Nico Hulkenberg to win. di Grassi is more seasoned than anyone else, if not talented.

    ART does not look good from what I have seen in the test and I am a bit sad that Nico might need another year in GP2…

  19. I guess I don’t realize how lucky I am when I watch GP2 on SPEED before the F1 races, when many of you in other parts of the world need to pay extra to get it or don’t get it at all.

    Many of the current GP2 field will be in F1 someday. With Schumi’s management team behind him, Hulkenberg may have the best shot of anyone. di Grassi is another one of those guys who everyone feels is required to be in F1for the sport to be complete- a full season in GP2 will tell if he’s capable of putting together a complete resume. Kobayashi has his name on a Toyota seat for all intents and purposes when Jarno eventually retires.

  20. Jay Menon
    6th May 2009, 2:09

    Too bad we don’t get GP2 in Asia, at least we don’t in Malaysia. Star Sports did show GP2 Asia for a couple rounds at least.

    Haven’t been watching much else other than F1, but I did have peep on A1 GP. In a field with largely poor drivers, Neel Janni stands out, he’s proven to be a class above the rest. That Adam Carrol fella doesn’t look too shabby either.

    1. Williams 4ever
      6th May 2009, 18:11

      Jay I remember Astro/ Local channel (same one that aired ITV’s F1 feed) broadcasting Jr Formulae when I lived in KL couple of years ago.

  21. How has Karun Chandhok burned his bridges with Force India. I could find no article when I googled his name and the team together. Link?

  22. HounslowBusGarage
    6th May 2009, 8:40

    If Max and Bernie are right and we do have three new teams next year, *and* we have two or three retirements from exisiting drivers, there could be eight or so drivers new to F1 for 2010.
    That’s a third of the field.
    What are the winter and pre-season testing restrictions? Could we have one third of the drivers with remarkabley limited experience of an F1 car for the first race of 2010?

  23. Super Aguri
    6th May 2009, 12:29

    I think it comes down to individual merit. Going straight from GP2 to F1 did Hamilton no harm.

    @Keith – You seem to have forgotten that the Hamiltons practically lived out of McLaren Center at Woking when Lewis was not racing ( and Anothony two timing with Ron). The kind of Simulator time he got at Woking before he stepped foot on circuit would make any driver die to be in his position as development driver with McLaren. (Of course it was typical of Lewis and his PR skills to say he didn’t gain much from Simulator, and didn’t like it that much). Ron was all over press start of 2007 season, about how he had groomed Lewis to know F1 rules better than any driver on the grid and about hours and hours Lewis had spent diligently using Woking resources.

  24. AN EXCELLENT point Super Aguri … and in light of recent events at Australia and disrespecting Ron Dennis at Prince of Bahrain party and the Dennis acheivement awards, it’s obvious Mr. Hamilton M.B.E. still has a lot to learn about being a man!

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