Eleven drivers in GP2 and GP3 Abu Dhabi showdowns


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For the first time ever both the GP2 and GP3 championship titles will be decided after the F1 drivers’ championship. And it will happen this weekend in Abu Dhabi.

Five drivers head into the final round of this year’s GP2 championship in Abu Dhabi with a chance of sealing the title and perhaps gaining promotion to Formula One.

In GP3 new Toro Rosso racer Daniil Kvyat is one of six drivers in the hunt for the championship.

GP2: Coletti’s slump leads to five-way contest

Halfway through the GP2 season it looked like the title would be easily won by Stefano Coletti. But a disastrous slump since then means he heads to Abu Dhabi with only an outside chance of winning the title.

Fabio Leimer and Sam Bird clear favourites, separated by just seven points at the top of the table. Felipe Nasr and James Calado, both in their second year of GP2, are also in contention.

Coletti dominated the early part of the season but his championship charge went off the rails halfway through the campaign.

That was until the British Grand Prix weekend, where he failed to score after a collision with championship rival Leimer on the penultimate lap. This put him at the back for the sprint race in which he couldn’t recover.

He managed to finish third in the German feature race at the next round however a poor sprint race meant no points – again. Astonishingly, he hasn’t scored since.

With Nasr not winning a race and Calado struggling to recapture the form he enjoyed with ART last year, the fight has been left to Leimer and Bird.

GP2 championship points so far

The graph below shows how the championship points battle has developed so far:

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Points available this weekend

A maximum of 48 points are available this weekend as follows:

  • Pole position for feature race: four points
  • Saturday Feature race: 25 for first place then 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 and 1 for tenth.
  • Sunday Sprint race: 15 for first place then 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 and 1 for eighth.
  • In each race the driver who sets the fastest lap scores two points providing they finished in the top ten and started the race from their grid position. In the case of the sprint race they must also not have changed tyres “at a time when climatic conditions did not necessitate the use of a different specification of tyre”.

Fabio Leimer

1st – 179 points (3 Feature race wins)

This is Leimer’s fourth season in the series and his second with Racing Engineering. It’s been his strongest campaign so far, and he holds a slender lead in points going into the final race.

Inconsistency has continued to be a feature in his performances this year. He won the opening two Feature races but showed poorly in the Sprint races – failing to score.

Non-scoring rounds in Spain and Monaco were followed by fourth in the British feature race but another failure to score in the Sprint. Since Germany, however, he has finished within the top six in every race – be it Feature or Sprint – and this has undoubtedly helped him back into the championship fight.

Leimer is one of the few drivers who have previous experience of racing at Abu Dhabi, having done so during both the 2009-10 and 2011 GP2 Asia championships.

He is also generally a solid qualifier. However his one of his races in Singapore ended when he collided with Alexander Rossi on the slow down lap.

As yet there has been little to suggest Leimer is on the cusp of landing an F1 drive for next season although claiming the crown could help him to gather sponsorship and potentially a drive in 2014.

Sam Bird

2nd – 172 points (3 Feature race wins, 2 Sprint race wins)

Bird returned for a third season of GP2 this year having switched to Formula Renault 3.5 last year, finishing third behind Robin Frijns and Jules Bianchi. Having often been unlucky but exciting to watch in his first two seasons he’s been more consistent since his Formula Renault run.

Bird was an eleventh hour signing to new team Russian Time on the eve of the new season. Naturally expectations for the new team were not high, but within four races Bird had given them their first victory.

He added feature race wins in Monaco and at home, since which he has almost always brought the car home in the top ten.

Victories in the feature race at Spa and the Singapore sprint race mark him out as the form contender heading to Abu Dhabi. Like Leimer, Bird has prior experience of the circuit but not much in the way of results.

Bird has strong connections with Mercedes in F1 but that team’s driver line-up is set for the time being. However he has been linked to Williams in the past and there have been suggestions Mercedes could use their new engine deal to place Bird at the Grove outfit.

Felipe Nasr

3rd – 148 points (0 wins)

Nasr switched teams to Carlin for his second season of GP2. Remarkably he heads into the final round with a chance of winning the championship despite not having won a race so far this year. That will have to change for him to claim the crown this weekend – and the cars will need to fall in his favour too.

Nasr’s consistency has been the bedrock of his championship tilt. Fourth and second in Malaysia meant Nasr came away looking like the best man to challenge Coletti. This was proven by a string of top four results – including four podiums – until the British round by Nasr being the only driver even remotely close to Coletti.

A first retirement of the season in the British feature race dealt a blow but he put in a great recovery drive in the sprint to finish seventh from the back of the grid. He bounced back in Hungary with fourth and third.

Coletti’s slump looked likely to rewards Nasr’s patient accumulation of points. But in Belgium and Italy retirements from both feature races spoiled his weekends. As in Britain, it proved a double blow as the result of the first race sets the grid for the second.

Second place to team mate Jolyon Palmer at Singapore has kept him in the hunt. His lack of experience relative to the championship leaders will count against him this weekend as he is yet to race in Abu Dhabi.

Stefano Coletti

4th – 135 (3 Sprint race wins)

As early as Monaco Coletti seemed a shoo-in for the title. This was something of a surprise as the Rapax driver has often been hard on his tyres – an undesirable trait in the Pirelli era.

He set out his stall with a win and three other podiums in the opening four races, plus a fistful of bonus points for pole position and fastest lap. Meanwhile his likely championship rivals made stuttering starts to their campaigns.

Fourth in the Spanish feature race was followed by his second sprint race win, a feat he repeated in Monaco. This was despite involved in an enormous, 12-car pile-up at turn one on the opening lap.

Since then Coletti’s championship hopes have crumbled. It is highly unusual in a championship where points can be won down to tenth place to see such a large lead dismantled so quickly.

His season started to unravel in Britain where he failed to score in either race following a collision with Leimer on Saturday.

Third in the German feature race suggested Silverstone was just a blip. In reality that podium was the outlier as Coletti has failed to add to his points tally since then.

A combination of bad luck and poor pace are to blame, but even if he were to recapture his early season form he would still need luck on his side to overcome his deficit to the leaders.

James Calado

5th – 134 points (1 Sprint race win)

Like Nasr, another sophomore driver, and one of whom big things were expected having been top rookie last year and remained with crack squad ART (formerly Lotus GP).

He confirmed this by finishing second to Leimer in the opening race of the season. But his championship went off the rails quickly as an error on the opening lap of the Sprint race eliminated himself and Leimer, and earned Calado a grid penalty.

Poor rounds in Bahrain and Spain saw Calado ground in the championship and it was starting to look as though ART – who have always produced a car capable of fighting at the front – were struggling.

His early-season troubles may have been accounted for by chassis damage which went undetected for several races. Calado has also said that having a team mate as far off the pace as Daniel Abt has (surprisingly) been means the team are unable to make rapid progress with their set-up in GP2’s very short practice sessions.

Nonetheless Calado built up his points total with a solid round in Monaco, a podium during the sprint race in Britain and a pair of second place finishes in Germany. He grabbed a win in the sprint race in Belgium having finished eighth the previous day, earning pole position, but on the podium afterwards admitted he still isn’t happy with the car.

Calado’s chances of winning the championship in Abu Dhabi are approximate to Fernando Alonso’s of beating Sebastian Vettel. Having never raced in Abu Dhabi before however, and being so far off the lead Calado will be looking to just have a strong weekend in front of the watching eyes of the Formula One paddock.

However Force India saw potential in the Racing Steps Foundation-backed driver after giving him a run at the Young Drivers’ Test at Silverstone. That has already led to a pair of practice outings for the team and there may be more on offer for him next year.

GP3: New F1 driver Kvyat bids for crown in six-way fight

While the GP2 competitors are battling it out for the chance to get into F1, one of the more junior GP3 racers is already assured of his progress to the top flight. Daniil Kvyat, who races for the MW Arden team set up by Mark Webber and his Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, will drive for Toro Rosso next year.

There are parallels between the GP2 and GP3 title contests. Although multiple drivers are in the hunt – one more in the case of GP3 – only two have a realistic chance. Kvyat is one of them along with Facu Regalia, who is seven points ahead at the top of the points standings.

As in GP2 the early points leader is not out of contention. Tio Ellinas is the Coletti of the series: The Marussia Manor driver was 19 points clear at the head of the table following the German round but has suffered a string of misfortunes since then, including being taken out by team mate Dino Zamparelli at Monza.

It would be a tremendous shock of Ellinas were able to overcome his 43 point deficit to claim the title as heads into the final weekend in sixth place. Kevin Korjus is 31 points down, Conor Daly 34 adrift and Jack Harvey is a point ahead of Ellinas, making all four long shots for the title. GP3 uses the same points system as GP2 meaning there are also 48 points on offer in these two races.

The contest is likely to be between Kvyat and Regalia. Although both drivers failed to score in the opening round in Spain, both have consistently racked up points since then. But Kvyat took 20 points off his ART rival in Monza and following the boost of his Red Bull announcement has momentum on his side.

Over to you

Who do you think will scoop the title in Abu Dhabi? And who will join Kvyat in scooping an F1 drive for next year?

Have your say in the comments.

2013 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Browse all 2013 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix articles

This article was re-posted to amend an error.

Images © GP2/LAT, GP3/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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44 comments on “Eleven drivers in GP2 and GP3 Abu Dhabi showdowns”

  1. I hope Kyvat wins it, for Red Bull’s sake and for a gram of consolation for Da Costa.

    1. @vettel1 me too, also Kvyat is with a team that aren’t as good as ART, and he has achieved much much more in junior formulae than Regalia.

    2. Even if he doesn’t win it and comes in second, he’ll still have done better than Felix da Costa’s best result in GP3.

      1. And in his first year too, straight up from FR2.0, whereas FdC needed a year in F3 Euro and a debut year in GP3 between his FR2.0 and title-challenging GP3 campaigns..

      2. Kvyat definitely is rounding into RB’s best prospect, only question is whether he is one year too early (could fall down like Alguersuari) or has to go through the yips yet (if applicable. He still looks very young, but might be fully grown, who knows). I think he is the real deal.

  2. It’s interesting to see how junior formulae are getting far more interesting than F1 in terms of a championship battle. However the commentary in GP2 cannot compare with the pairing of David Croft and Martin Brundle, which sort of puts me off GP2 somewhat. My money’s on Sam Bird!

    1. how DARE you badmouth Will Buxton!!! Get out of my sight!!!

      1. Hahaha I’m not really badmouthing him, it’s just that he needs another good commentator alongside him to spice things up. Otherwise it’s usually d’Ambrosio, isn’t it?

        1. Alex Brundle was as good as his dad when he commentated along side Buxton for a few races – I hope he’s back. Chandhock was also good. In fact almost everyone other than D’Ambrosio has been!

          1. Yep, D’Ambrosio comments most races on the Belgian television and it’s awful …

          2. I like Jerome, he’s a down to earth guy and calls incidents correctly, but his voice can drown a bit sometimes. Buxton’s brilliant, like a good version of what Croft is muddling his way through!

          3. @paeschli But it is even worse when he doesn’t commentate – the other guy is pretty useless and misses half of the things going on.

    2. Crofty & Brundle are good but a bit overrated for me.

      Will Buxton is miles ahead of them. A mentor. A reference.

      1. Okay man, I’m convinced :)

      2. Will Buxton is an enthusiastic commentator – but he often muddles up or is ignorant about which car/driver he is talking about. The whole point of commentating is to be ahead of the viewer in identifying who is passing, going into gravel or whatever.

      3. Brundle is good, but Crofty is pretty crap.. I really enjoyed the GP2 commentary watching the singapore race.. which has some pretty epic battles..

      4. I greatly prefer listening to the American commentary than the British. They don’t talk at quite the erudite level that the Brits due because of the audience differences, but they are much more excited and positive. And I do really like Will Buxton too.

  3. Who will join Kvyat in scooping an F1 drive for next year? I don’t think any others will get full-time drives, but test driver roles (including FP1s) are realistic prospects for Calado and Nasr. Calado can retain his Force India role. Maybe a Williams test driver role for Nasr, considering their Brazilian links if they sign Massa?

    1. He should definitely drive for Williams if it means they use that colour scheme!

      It’s just a shame that the result of these championships is irrelevant for who gets into F1 – they’re signed up by teams or their young driver programmes already. If Force India do go for Calado it’ll be on the strength of his F1 testing & practice performances, not his racing.

      1. I never thought about that. Maybe Williams could put a splash of yellow onto the cars if they sign Massa (and Nasr) – it could do with livening up!

        True. I’d like to think Kvyat is at Toro Rosso mostly for his performances because his results have been quite impressive, and Calado the same.

      2. Nasr and Williams is a perfect fit, who knows about after Massa has retired? I think their third driver role will continue to go to a Mercedes young driver to try and get cheaper engines though. And Susie Wolff will still be around for positive PR. The yellow on the car would look sweet!

    2. I’m struggling to see any of them getting an F1 race seat next year. Bird seems to have been a nearly man for several seasons, Leimer has spent 4 seasons in GP2 already, Nasr has yet to win a GP2 race while Coletti’s 2013 season hasn’t exactly been good advertising for him as he’s blown a big lead. I think Calado will be Force India’s reserve driver next season.

      1. I think Leimer’s only chance would have been at a healthy Sauber – he’s done a YDT for the team. But they need money and hence Russia is in the seat for Petrov and maybe Sirotkin on FP1s. If that doesn’t materialise then perhaps Sutil and Gutierrez both bring enough to cover the team’s hole. Coletti would have been a good pick for Toro Rosso in their Minardi days, while Bird might be Mercedes’ reserve driver next year and for a while to come. Calado should be locked into FP1s by now, unless Maldonado wants someone to thrash (as Calado is inexperienced at F1 level) if the rumours are true.

  4. What I think….. is that track evolution will be colossal this weekend. :)

  5. I find Stefano Coletti’s issues this year frankly baffling.

    He went into the season as one of the favorites having been quick in pre-season testing, He was both fast & consistent over the 1st 6 races but since then has struggled to get anywhere near the points & has had no consistency.

    You don’t suddenly lose a big chunk of your talent after 6 races so there’s something else going on there, His team mate Simon Trummer also started out strong (Scoring points in the 1st few races) but has since done nothing of note.
    There’s clearly something gone on within the team thats hit there performance, Maybe some engineering staff left or something but its very odd to see a good driver (Which Coletti is) suddenly go from good to bad in less than half a year.

    Daniel Abt is another driver thats baffled me this year, Runner up in GP3 last year with 2 wins 7 podiums & only 2 non-points finishes over 16 races & yet this year he’s rarely in the 1st half of the field.

    1. According to Albert Costa, Coletti’s slump in form has been due to excessive partying since Monaco. Which is rather unbelievable if true.

  6. None of GP2 drivers impressed me. There’s too much inconsistency and fluctuations in their performance. Sam Bird is my bet, though. He got way better experience and to be honest even though he’s on relatively new RUSSIAN TIME team, in my opinion he should walk the title earlier than this.

    Also I don’t understand how Barwa Addax can messed up so much. My fav driver Rio Haryanto also not showing good season…

    WSR 3.5 sounds more good nowadays…

    1. What am I thinking? Should be *better* instead of *more good*

    2. Remember that Russian Time isn’t strictly “brand new”, but rather a takeover of the former iSport team. But yeah, I do hope Sam gets a chance in F1 sometime soon. He’s been closer to F1 than most in recent years but the opportunity eludes him… I read that recently if things don’t pan out in europe then he’d consider IndyCar.

  7. Hope Regalia wins it. Kvyat already has his F1 seat, and even though I don’t think Regalia is that much special, it’d be nice to have an Argentinean win something in GP3 (even if he’s much more spanish than argie, but nevermind)

    1. You guys already have Messi haha.
      And Fangio in the past :)

    2. @fer-no.65 Regalia winning GP3 would be a bad advertisement for the series. It’s clear that ART’s GP3/13 package and setup is the best this year, and Regalia has had much better luck than Conor Daly. And Regalia has done absolutely nothing of note before, he got just one podium in three seasons of Formula BMW Europe.
      If I have to say anything, anybody but Regalia should win. I personally like Korjus, but Kvyat’s a superb talent too and he deserves this, hands down.

      1. Kvyat got the title! :D @wsrgo

        1. @paeschli I’m as relieved as I am happy with the outcome…:)

  8. Regarding GP2 I have a hard time getting excited about a battle among drivers who have been parked inthat series for years. None of them seem like major promising talents, though Bird and Nasr might be strong second drivers in a top team eventually.

    I have to say, I particularly enjoyed the writing in this one. It’s hard to apply lots of clever imagery, as Keith does, without cliche, mixed metaphors, and indulgent diction. Keith I wonder if some time you could talk about who else on the web you see as good writers and your influences.

  9. Having never raced in Abu Dhabi before however, and being so far off the lead Calado will be looking to just have a strong weekend in front of the watching eyes of the Formula One paddock.

    Calado raced (and won!) in Abu Dhabi in 2011.

    1. Yeah I thought I remembered that, it’s the main reason I know who he is :P

  10. I don’t care that he’s spent four years in the series. If Leimer wins the title, at least give the man a test drive with a backmarker team. He’s earned it on merit this season.

  11. So now GP2/3 is more exciting than F1, features better racing, some actual tyre degradation and a nice tight title fight, and now they’ve unloaded Chilton, Van der Garde and Gutierrez into F1, the grids have a larger number of exciting drivers, and what with the 2014 regs in F1, GP2/3 won’t be much slower than F1 next year. Ah, isn’t being a contemporary F1 fan rewarding? You’ll sit down next year in front of the GP thinking, “Why aren’t these laptimes much faster than in the GP2 practice session?”. The likely highlight of my Abu Dhabi GP weekend? The GP2 Feature Race.

    Yours Faithfully,

    A Grumpy Old Man

    p.s. Good luck, Sam Bird, you thoroughly deserve the title.

    p.s.s. Facu, if you could please have a poor weekend and let a decent driver like Kvyat, Ellinas or Korjus win the title. Please don’t soil a decent line of GP3 champions in Evans, Bottas and Gutierrez.

  12. I wish Tio could have chances to take it, but it probably is not going to happen :(

  13. It’s looking very likely that this year’s GP2 Champion will be the first non Italian GP2 Champion not to graduate to an F1 race seat for the following season.

  14. I’m really looking forward to both of these fights. I’d like Kvyat to win GP2 as he seems a real talent, I’m a big fan of Conor Daly too. For GP2, Bird has been ready to be a solid F1 driver for ages, but he’s 26 and has no money. Calado seems good, but ART have been so far off the pace this year…plus I’m disappointed Nasr hasn’t won, as he’s got so much potential. Peter Windsor said that if Leimer wins the title then his sponsor is promising his an F1 sponsorship level, if this is true i’d be happy, he’s a good driver.

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