Open season in prospect for GP2 in 2013

2013 GP2 season preview

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Bradley Downton (@Bradley13) takes a look at the GP2 field ahead of the start of the new season in Malaysia this weekend.

Though deserving champions both, neither Davide Valsecchi last year nor Romain Grosjean the year before him were unexpected GP2 champions.

But this season promises to be a more open contest for the title between experienced hands who’ve seen several campaigns already and young talents who are hitting their peak.

Factor in that the teams have two years’ experience with the current chassis and it looks set to be a close-fought season.

Half of the drivers on the Formula One grid this year graduated from GP2, including all bar one of the rookie contingent.

But the race to find their successors never stops and the GP2 field which has assembled in Malaysia for the first round of the season features 26 drivers eager to follow in the footsteps of Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and the rest.

While Formula Renault 3.5 and GP3 have propelled drivers straight to the top flight, GP2 remains the foremost feeder series for F1.

Winter testing indicated this could be a particularly open contest for the championship. Here’s how the field is set for the ninth season of GP2.

Entry List

Driver 1Driver 2
DAMSMarcus EricssonStephane Richelmi
ART Grand PrixJames CaladoDaniel Abt
Arden InternationalJohnny Cecotto, Jr.Mitch Evans
Racing EngineeringJuli??n LealFabio Leimer
CarlinFelipe NasrJolyon Palmer
Russian TimeSam BirdTom Dillmann
Caterham RacingSergio CanamasasMa Qinghua
Barwa Addax TeamJake RosenzweigRio Haryanto
RapaxStefano ColettiSimon Trummer
Trident RacingNathanael Berthon*Kevin Ceccon*
Hilmer MotorsportConor DalyPal Varhaug
Venezuela GP LazarusRen?? BinderKevin Giovesi
MP MotorsportAdrian Quaife-HobbsDani??l de Jong

*Confirmed for the first round only.

Drivers to watch

It’s a must-win season for Marcus Ericsson who is heading into his fourth year in the category. Having moved from the now defunct iSport to reigning champions DAMS, Ericsson will be expected to fight for the title.

Monegasque Stephane Richelmi is alongside him but only has one season under his belt in the under-performing Trident team. A feature race podium in Germany was a highlight and he’s looked a match for Ericsson in testing towards the top of the time sheets.

Britain’s James Calado remains with ART for a second season and is surely one to watch for the championship. He picked up podiums and wins last year in his rookie season – in which he also claimed rookie of the year – and has been consistently near the top of the times in testing.

Alongside him is Daniel Abt, who faces a learning curve in his first GP2 season but has the benefit of familiarity with the team he drove for in GP3 last year, finishing as runner-up.

Johnny Cecotto Jnr drives for his fifth different team in as many years as joins Arden from Addax. The Venezuelan has shown similar form to countryman Pastor Maldonado, picking up two dominant wins and a second place last season, but with his other results being dramatically further off.

Highly rated GP3 champion Mitch Evans will partner Cecotto this season. The eighteen-year-old New Zealander will be hoping to impress in his debut season but neither Arden has looked particularly quick in testing.

Julian Leal is entering his third season in GP2 and hasn’t exactly set the world alight so far. For the second time in his GP2 career he will be joined by Swiss driver Fabio Leimer, who he teamed up with at Rapax in 2011. This is Leimer’s fourth season and his second with Racing Engineering. A win eluded him last year after a lot of bad luck and the Swiss driver will be hoping that changes this year. While Leimer has been more towards the top of grid in testing, Leal has been more down the bottom and this trend looks set to continue through the season.

Felipe Nasr was somewhat pushed out of the limelight by champion team mate Davide Valsecchi at DAMS last season but still picked up a handful of podiums in a generally strong rookie campaign. His move to Carlin came as something of a surprise but Nasr has looked consistently quick in testing.

He will be joined by Britain’s Jolyon Palmer who is now in his third season. Palmer got the monkey off his back last year by picking up his first win in the Monaco sprint race but his times in testing have been nothing to write home about. Nasr is expected to lead the team’s title charge but both drivers could be in with a shot.

Russian Time are a late entry into the season after iSport withdrew due to lack of funds. Four drivers were tested in Barcelona and the team signed the quickest of them, Tom Dillmann. He did a half-season of GP2 last year with Rapax, winning in Bahrain.

In a surprise move Russian Time have hired Sam Bird as his team mate. Bird raced in the category in 2010 and 2011, winning just once but scoring strongly in both seasons. He left the series in 2012 to race in the Formula Renault 3.5 championship, finishing third. With a brand new team and two strong drivers, Russian Time could pull off some shocks this year but we won’t really know where they stand until Malaysia.

Spotter’s guide


1MalaysiaSepang International Circuit22nd-24th March
2BahrainBahrain International Circuit19th-21st April
3SpainCircuit de Catalunya10th-12th May
4MonacoMonte-Carlo24th-26th May
5BritainSilverstone28th-30th June
6GermanyHockenheimring5th-7th July
7HungaryHungaroring26th-28th July
8BelgiumSpa-Francorchamps23rd-25th August
9ItalyMonza6th-8th September
10SingaporeMarina Bay20th-22nd September
11Abu DhabiYas Marina Circuit1st-3rd November

The disappearance of Valencia from the F1 calendar and the scrapping of the extra standalone event in Bahrain sees GP2’s schedule trimmed to 22 races of 11 double-header rounds.

The addition of Abu Dhabi means there will be a break of more than a month between the penultimate and final events.

GP2 testing times


PosDriverTeamBest TimeDifferenceLaps
1Tom Dillmann*Hilmer Motorsport1:24.40073
2Stefano ColettiRapax1:24.418+0.018128
3James CaladoART Grand Prix1:24.525+0.125169
4Fabio LeimerRacing Engineering1:24.534+0.134129
5Stephane RichelmiDAMS1:24.604+0.204173
6Felipe NasrCarlin1:24.691+0.291164
7Marcus EricssonDAMS1:24.712+0.312160
8Sergio Canamasas*Caterham Racing1:24.963+0.563161
9Kevin Giovesi*Venezuela GP Lazarus1:24.967+0.567163
10Ren?? BinderVenezuela GP Lazarus1:24.976+0.576122
11Simon TrummerRapax1:25.023+0.623175
12Nathanael Berthon*Trident Racing1:25.059+0.659105
13Jake RosenzweigBarwa Addax Team1:25.243+0.843168
14Mitch EvansArden International1:25.258+0.858170
15Jolyon PalmerCarlin1:25.276+0.876163
16Johnny Cecotto, Jr.Arden International1:25.292+0.892157
17Daniel AbtART Grand Prix1:25.312+0.912155
18Juli??n LealRacing Engineering1:25.318+0.918175
19Robin Frijns*Trident Racing1:25.335+0.935123
20Pal Varhaug*Hilmer Motorsport1:25.391+0.991109
21Dani??l de JongMP Motorsport1:25.506+1.106149
22Adrian Quaife-HobbsMP Motorsport1:25.604+1.204153
23Ma Qing Hua*Caterham Racing1:25.800+1.400171
24Rio HaryantoBarwa Addax Team1:26.398+1.998175

*Not signed to a team at the time of the test.

Circuit de Catalunya test times

Pos.DriverTeamBest TimeDifferenceLaps
1Stefano ColettiRapax1:29.055118
2Marcus EricssonDAMS1:29.217+0.162181
3Felipe NasrCarlin1:29.381+0.326148
4Stephane RichelmiDAMS1:29.453+0.398180
5Jolyon PalmerCarlin1:29.467+0.412134
6Sergio Canamasas*Caterham Racing1:29.611+0.556180
7James CaladoART Grand Prix1:29.624+0.569190
8Kevin Giovesi*Venezuela GP Lazarus1:29.812+0.757122
9Tom Dillmann*Russian Time1:29.843+0.788150
10Fabio LeimerRacing Engineering1:29.862+0.807137
11Mitch EvansArden International1:29.902+0.847161
12Adrian Quaife-HobbsMP Motorsport1:29.914+0.859162
13Robin Frijns*Trident Racing1:29.951+0.89654
14Daniel AbtART Grand Prix1:29.994+0.939172
15Dani??l de JongMP Motosport1:30.037+0.982168
16Robin Frijns*Russian Time1:30.053+0.99853
17Pal Varhaug*Hilmer Motorsport1:30.300+1.245104
18Johnny Cecotto, Jr.Arden International1:30.323+1.268141
19Conor Daly*Hilmer Motorsport1:30.417+1.362133
20Ren?? BinderVenezuela GP Lazarus1:30.454+1.399130
21Juli??n LealRacing Engineering1:30.601+1.546165
22Jake RosenzweigBarwa Addax Team1:30.620+1.565160
23Simon TrummerRapax1:30.667+1.612188
24Riccardo Agostini*Hilmer Motorsport1:30.724+1.66977
25Rio HaryantoBarwa Addax Team1:30.813+1.758168
26Rodolfo GonzalezTrident Racing1:31.029+1.974132
27Ma Qing HuaCaterham Racing1:31.035+1.980203
28Luciano Bacheta*Russian Time1:32.712+3.65749
29Christopher Zanella*Russian Time1:53.772+24.71735

*Not signed to a team at the time of the test.

Following GP2

You can follow GP2 on F1 Fanatic Live during the races this year.

We also have a dedicated group and forum for GP2 fans:

And you can find a list of GP2 drivers and teams on Twitter here:

In the UK, GP2 will be broadcast live on the Sky Sports F1 channel in 2013.

Over to you

What do you think of the strength of this year’s GP2 field? Who’s your tip for the title – and a future in F1?

Have your say in the comments.


    Browse all 2013 F1 season articles

    Images © GP2

    28 comments on “Open season in prospect for GP2 in 2013”

    1. ShaneB457 (@shaneb12345678910)
      21st March 2013, 18:09

      Is GP2 being shown on any other channels apart from Sky Sports F1? Eurosport perhaps?

      1. Eurosport has a contract with WSR, but not with GP2/GP3. Haven’t found any GP2 alternatives to Sky so far, but usually their commentary is good.

        1. on youtube there are some videos of full gp2 races from 2012 with the official british commentary

    2. Strong grid, interested in what the likes of Calado, Nasr, Evans, Abt, Quaife-Hobbs and Dillmann can do, as well as whether Bird, Leimer and Ericsson can challenge for the title. Should be good!

      1. Quaife-Hobbs looked very impressive in AutoGP last year – very good at battling as well.

      2. Definitely looking forward to see what Nasr can do, Brazil really needs him to do well, and luckily he’s carrying two very big Brazilian sponsors.

      3. @enigma Honestly I think the rookies have far more talent than the GP2 veterans.

    3. … Leal has been more down the bottom and this trend looks set to continue through the season.

      Euphemism of the year! :) Great article, Bradley!

      The GP2 field looks better than last year’s field of disappointments. ART’s and Russian Time’s line-up looks particularly impressive. I’m also very interested to see how Evans will do this year, as I still think he could be a future F1 race winner. Notable exception to the grid is the reigning FR3.5 champion, Robin Frijns. He tested with Trident, but he hasn’t found a team for some reason. Let’s hope he either will do a lot of running with Sauber, or pick up a seat in GP2 (or FR3.5 for that matter) mid-season.

      1. I hope Frijns will be part of GP2. Although another season in WSR against DaCisra also would be interesting, I think learning the pirelli’s is more usefull.

    4. Great article @Bradley13, definitely sets the scene nicely for the GP2 season. Maybe I’ll actually watch this one!

    5. Nice pictures of the car, quite a sight for our sore eyes as I only get to see the F1 cars. Don’t follow GP2, put some more pics sometime. Nice liveries.

      1. please delete this comment.

    6. Especially after wining the 3.5 title last year, the first Rookie to do so since Kubica and beating the far more experienced Jules Bianci, Who already looks at home in F1 after 1 test and 1 race weekend

      1. Above About Robin Frijns

    7. Nice pictures of the cars, quite a sight for our sore eyes as I only get to see the F1 cars. Don’t follow GP2, put some more pics sometime. Nice liveries.

    8. I like GP2, but I think it would be doing itself a favour if the teams varied their liveries a bit more. Most are some mix of blue and/or white, which I find pretty hard to distinguish between. For more casual supporters, it would be a lot easier for bolder colour schemes, such as DAMS

      1. Tomas Andersson
        21st March 2013, 20:06

        I totally agree. To warm myself up for this years I spending this weeks evenings watching 2012 series and loving it. I’m watching Sky recordings and I’m very impressed with the commentary.

        Looking forward to a fantastic racing weekend with F1, GP2 and Indy.

        My eyes will be in 16:9 format after this weekend.

    9. I think Calado stands in good stead for the championship this year, having already proven he has the speed and consistency necessary to challenge towards the front of the grid. He had rotten luck last year with poorly timed safety cars and a bout of food poisoning affecting his results, but he was always a match for his more experienced and highly rated teammate Gutierrez right until the end of the season.

    10. Having watched most of the races past few years, I think the grid seems stronger than last year. Five of last year’s top six is gone, but I see most of them more like journeymen. Even though Valsecchi was the champion, of those five I rate Gutierrez highest.

      Now looking at top five new or returning drivers, I would put there Evans, Daly, Abt, Bird and Quaife-Hobbs.

      Hopefully we see a good battle going all the way to Abu Dhabi.

    11. If only top 5 of FR3.5 could mix it with top 15 of GP2. That would be awesome. I wonder how the still very young Evans and Abt will end up? I enjoyed last year’s GP3 season and both were quite above the rest of the field. I kinda hoped AFDCosta wouldn’t have gone for the title in FR 3.5 (morally, last year’s was his really) and tried the GP2 field indeed. Another point : where will Frijns end up ?

      1. @tango Frijns doesn’t have a seat in any category…now. He could get one mid-season, but that too, is unlikely..

    12. My tip for the title is James Calado. I watched my first full season of GP2 racing last year (thanks to Sky Sports F1), and was shouting for him within the first couple of races. He was massively impressive and robbed of quite a few would-be-stellar results (Valencia springs to mind), but still managed some sensational races untroubled, like Germany. He outperformed Esteban completely. If I remember correctly, Esteban’s only two wins came courtesy of Safety Cars that robbed others of the lead and left him ahead of the pack. He inherited Calado’s win at Valencia and Fabio’s at Silverstone, I think.

    13. Supporting Mitch Evans all the way! Hoping he can score consistent points and a few podiums in his first year. Also watching what Calado, Quaife-Hobbs, Dillman and Nasr can do. Going to be a great season! I almost enjoy the support categories more than F1 sometimes.

    14. @bradley13 Erm…you forgot a certain Monegasque who topped 2 days of pre-season testing..the last time someone did that for Rapax was Pastor Maldonando..

    15. In many ways I enjoy GP2 more than F1. Always high intense races. Overtaking could sometimes be too wild. But you do spot those upcoming, raw talented and fearless drivers. Sometimes, when I have recorded the race I will use FastForward during a F1 race but never on a GP2.

      Will watch all training, qualification and both races on every weekend. Sadly there will be some long periods between some races, but you gonna do?

      Now I only need spring to come to Sweden so I can take out my Toycar for some action.

    16. The GP2 grid is looking really good this year, I hope we get some quality racing from them!

    17. My tip for the title is Felipe Nasr. Flashes of brilliance last year, with a bit of experience he should be able to mount a year-long championship campaign.

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