The drivers of GP2’s first ten seasons: Part five


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@SamVanPut concludes this series looking at all of GP2’s drivers for its first ten years.

Here are the last of those who didn’t make it up to F1 – and a reminder of the few who did graduate to the top flight.

Ricardo Risatti

Argentina, 2007, 6 starts, 1 point
Clinch the Spanish F3 title in 2006, at his fourth attempt, and the following year made half-a-dozen GP2 starts. He picked up a point in the Monza feature race, but was replaced at Trident for the final round and didn’t come back. In 2011 he raced in the GT1 world championship for two rounds, then quit the European scene and moved back to Argentina. It hasn’t been an especially successful return: he took a single win in TC2000 in 2012, but only made a single start last year.

Roldan Rodriguez

Spain, 2007-2009, 61 starts, 4 podiums, 53 points
Raced for former F1 driver Adrian Campos, who masterminded Fernando Alonso’s junior career, though Rodriguez was clearly not a talent of the same magnitude. The runner-up to Risatti in Spanish F3 in 2006, Rodriguez joined the Piquet Sports GP2 outfit for 2007. He took a reverse grid pole at Silverstone only to drop out of the points with alarming speed, but two weekends later at the Hungaroring he made it onto the podium. It got no better than that in two more years of GP2, and his hopes for an F1 debut with Force India in 2008 were dashed. He did manage to take third in the 2008-09 GP2 Asia series behind Kamui Kobayashi and Jerome d’Ambrosio, winning once, but after two further races in the championship the following year he called time on his racing career.

Jake Rosenzweig

USA, 2012-2013, 26 starts, 0 points
Addax were race-winners in 2012 so it was a considerable disappointment for Rosenzweig to complete the 2013 campaign with them and not have a single point to show for it. His career has stalled since then, though his earlier years were not really flushed with success either – eighth in the 2008 Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup against the likes of Daniel Ricciardo, Roberto Merhi and Jean-Eric Vergne was probably the high point.

Kimiya Sato

Japan, 2014, 20 starts, 2 points
Not related to the F1 driver with the same surname, but managed by another Japanese ex-grand prix racer: Taki Inoue. Sato began racing in Europe in 2006, switched back to Japan’s F3 championship three years later, then returned to Europe. Third in Germany’s F3 championship in 2012, he then graduated to Auto GP where he took second in his first full season and clinched the title the following year. Sauber also gave him a run in their F1 car. But last year in GP2 he tended to run around at the back. It might have been different at the Hungaroring, where he qualified fourth, but a tangle with Stephane Richelmi put him out. He has now returned to Japan where he races a Lamborghini Gallardo in the Super GT series.

Giancarlo Serenelli

Venezuela, 2012, 18 starts, 0 points
Most GP2 drivers make their debut well before their 30th birthday, the age Serenelli was when he made his GP2 debut in 2012. He made a huge leap up to GP2 from racing in the Latam Challenge – a Latin American series for Formula Renault 2.0-type cars which he won three times. Appearing as part of the new Venezuela-backed Lazarus team’s line-up, there was little surprise when he qualified last for his first race, one-and-a-half seconds behind the next slowest car. He crashed heavily at the Hockenheimring, returned for another weekend in Hungary, and was then replaced by Rene Binder.

Ryan Sharp

UK, 2005, 13 starts, 2 points
After winning Germany’s Formula Renault 2.0 series with Jenzer in 2003 he graduated to Formula Renault V6 with them the following year, finishing second. He landed a seat at DPR for the inaugural GP2 championship but scored just once, in the fourth race, before being replaced by the man who had beaten him to the V6 crown: Giorgio Mondini. Sharp went on to enjoy success in tin-tops and GT racing: he won the European Touring Car Cup in 2006 and the following year was runner-up in the FIA GT championship along with Aston Martin team mate Karl Wendlinger.

Andy Soucek

Spain, 2007-2008, 39 starts, 3 podiums, 29 points
The 2005 Spanish F3 champion graduated to Formula Renault 3.5 where he remained in contention for the title until the final race, eventually finishing a closely-fought campaign fourth. He took a pair of podiums following his promotion to GP2 in 2007, but was unable to build on that in 2008. A step down to Formula Two was a calculated gamble: he claimed the title convincingly with seven wins from 16 starts, earning a test for Williams, but it led no further. A test deal with Virgin the following year also ended in disappointment – Soucek quit the team halfway through the year. Now a GT driver, he is in his fourth year of competition in the Blancpain Endurance Series.

Jason Tahincioglu

Turkey, 2006-2007, 40 starts, 0 points
The son of the president of Turkey’s Motorsport Federarion, Mumtaz Tahincioglu, spent two years in GP2 racking up 40 point-less starts. Tahincioglu was born in the UK and cut his teeth in the British motor racing scene, racing two-litre Formula Renault cars, albeit with little more success than he later managed in GP2. Hung up his helmet in 2008.

Ricardo Teixeira

Portugal, 2009, 2012-2013, 44 starts, 0 points
Started even more races without scoring than Tahincioglu. He spent several years racing in British F3 without distinction before moving up to GP2 with Trident in 2009, where in Monaco he became one of few drivers to fail to qualify for a race, falling shy of the 107% time by over half a second. A step down to F2 seemed a correct move, but he was extremely lucky to survive a horrifying crash in Morocco after seriously misjudging a braking point. This did not dissuade Lotus (later Caterham) from giving him an F1 test in 2011. The following year he was back in GP2 with Rapax, and he did a four-race stint as a substitute for Kevin Ceccon in 2013 before calling it a day.

Simon Trummer

Switzerland, 2012-2014, 68 starts, 1 podium, 50 points
Finished runner-up in the 2008 Swiss Formula Renault 2.0 championship (yes, motor racing is banned in Switzerland; yes, all the races were held in other countries; no, it doesn’t make any sense). After that he made his way to GP2 via Formula Master and GP3. Three years – the first with Arden, the rest at Rapax – yielded a single podium finish. He stil races on the F1 support bill as part of the Porsche Supercup, and shares the Team ByKolles CLM LMp1 machine with ex-F1 drivers Vitantonio Liuzzi and Christian Klien in the World Endurance Championship.

Oliver Turvey

UK, 2010-2011, 22 starts, 1 pole, 4 podiums, 47 points
Educated at the University of Cambridge which awarded him their first-ever Extraordinary Full Blue Award for Motorsport in 2008, when he finished second in British F3 Jaime Alguersuari. He beat Alguersuari to top rookie in Formula Renault 3.5 the following year, ending the season fourth overall, though by then Alguersuari was already dovetailing his commitments in that series with an F1 debut for Toro Rosso. Turvey scored points in his first two GP2 starts at the beginning of 2010, then endured a difficult string of races before finding his form again. He ended the year sixth, but had developed an unfortunate habit of turning pole position into second-place finishes. However McLaren were impressed by his development work and appointed him to their test team, where he continues to work on their car in track and simulator. He has also raced for JOTA’s LMP2 team in the World Endurance Championship, and through McLaren’s links with Honda he is competing in the Japanese Super GT series.

Ho-Pin Tung

China, 2007-2008, 2010, 54 starts, 1 podium, 11 points
One of the most promising Chinese talents so far, though Tung was born in the Netherlands. He swept to victory in the Asian Formula BMW championship in 2003, winning ten out of fourteen races, and lifted the German F3 crown two years later. His GP2 spell began with some of the series’ less distinguished teams: BCN in 2007, then Trident the year after. In 2010 he joined DAMS, who were not yet the force they are now, though their form improved when he was replaced by Romain Grosjean. Since his GP2 days Tung has enjoyed his success in prototypes, winning the LMP2 crown in the Asian Le Mans Series last year, but has also raced in IndyCar, Formula E and various GT categories.

Alberto Valerio

Brazil, 2008-2010, 53 starts, 1 win, 1 podium, 20 points
Valerio’s feature race victory at Silverstone in 2009 was one of GP2’s great surprise wins: in his previous 25 starts he’d only managed a single top-five finish. Unfortunately for him it turned out there was only one more to come after that – fifth place at Monaco the following year. After that the 2005 F3 Sudamerica champion returned to Brazil to race Stock Cars briefly in 2011.

Davide Valsecchi

Italy, Champion, 2008-2012, 96 starts, 3 poles, 7 wins, 18 podiums, 331 points
The 2012 champion learned the hard way that ‘third driver’ does not mean ‘third in line to drive an F1 car’ when, late in 2013, Lotus passed him over when they were looking for a substitute for the departing Kimi Raikkonen for the last two races of the year. They chose Heikki Kovalainen instead. Valsecchi had laboured for four years to take the GP2 crown, racking up almost 100 starts as he did. He saw off a late challenge from Luiz Razia and must have been pleased that four of that year’s races took place in Bahrain as he took 83 points there – more than a third of his eventual tally! Valsecchi had claimed the GP2 Asia title two years earlier, but despite these credentials his F1 shot appears to have passed him by. He most recently raced in International GT Open last year.

Adrian Valles

Spain, 2006,2008, 39 starts, 1 podium, 12 points
After winning the Spanish Formula 1600 Junior series Valles took second in the 2005 Formula Renault 3.5 championship with Pons. His next stop was GP2 in 2006, and driving for Spanish team Campos he made it onto the podium at home in Valencia. That year he also had his first taste of F1 machinery at the wheel of a Midland, and he returned to the team (now Spyker) the following year. A return to GP2 with BCN that year was mostly a waste of time. He now runs the AVF team which competes in the World Series by Renault.

Pal Varhaug

Norway, 2011, 2013, 22 starts, 0 points
The 2008 Italian Formula Renault 2.0 champion moved up to GP3 two years later, winning once. But a jump up to GP2 the following year proved hasty: he failed to score a point all season and even tangled with DAMS team mate Grosjean during qualifying at Monaco. A stint in Auto GP in 2012 was more successful – he won twice – then after a brief return to GP2 he stepped back down to GP3, where he remains this year.

Christian Vietoris

Germany, 2010-2011, 31 starts, 1 pole, 3 wins, 6 podiums, 64 points
A solid junior career included the 2006 German Formula BMW crown, to which he added success in the World Final, and three years later he was runner-up to Jules Bianchi in the F3 Euroseries. Entering GP2 with Racing Engineering in 2010, he made clear progress and scored a breakthrough win at Monza. However a heavy crash at Istanbul forced him out of the cockpit for four races. It took him until the end of the year to hit his stride again, though he finished second to Bianchi at Silverstone after a thrilling scrap between the pair. Two wins in the last four races salvaged seventh in the points standings. He had already made his DTM debut for Mercedes by that point, and has remained with them ever since. He took fourth in the championship – and top Mercedes driver – the last two years in a row.

Toni Vilander

Finland, 2005, 4 starts, 0 points
After taking the Italian F3 title with Coloni in 2004, Vilander did four races with their GP2 team the following year. He was made for GT racing, however, and picked up his first title in a GT2 car that same year. Since then he joined the AF Corse Ferrari squad and took two class wins at Le Mans and won the GT2 class of the FIA GT championship twice. He began the year with a class win in the WEC round at Silverstone alongside ex-F1 racer Gianmaria Bruni.

Javier Villa

Spain, 2006-2009, 81 starts, 3 wins, 8 podiums, 77 points
After modest success in Spanish F3 Villa’s progress was hastened, sending him into GP2 at the age of 17 with Racing Engineering, who he had previous experience with. In 2007, his second year, he made a habit of converting reverse-grid pole positions into victories: thanks to a trio of sprint race wins he ended the year sixth overall. Year three was a big disappointment, however – no wins, not even a podium, and at Monza he crashed heavily in the rain. Reappearing with Super Nova in 2009 he still couldn’t improve on that 2007 high, so it was off to the World Touring Car Championship after that, and then to the NASCAR-style Racecar series.

Ernesto Viso

Venezuela, 2005-2007, 46 starts, 2 wins, 6 podiums, 63 points
Gave GP2’s safety standards their sternest test in 2007 when he failed to notice the field slowing for a Safety Car at Magny-Cours, launched off the back of Michael Ammermuller and flew over a barrier. He had already won two races in the category at this point, exhibiting a blend of speed and recklessness which would later be identified with another Venezuelan GP2 driver – Pastor Maldonado. Viso only did one more weekend after that Magny-Cours crash, after which he spent six years racing in IndyCar. He is now a winner in the bonkers Stadium Super Trucks series where flying through the air is positively encouraged.

Hiroki Yoshimoto

Japan, 2005-2006, 41 starts, 2 podiums, 26 points
Raced in the first two years of GP2 with the unsuccessful BCN outfit. He later reappeared in GP2 Asia, which used the first-generation chassis he was familiar with, and where teams were obliged to run at least one Asian driver. Japanese Super GT has been his main occupation for the past few years, though he has just a single win to his name.

Adrian Zaugg

South Africa, 2007, 2010, 38 starts, 1 podium, 19 points
The only South African to race in GP2, Zaugg enjoyed more success in A1 Grand Prix, where he won three races. As his unsuccessful first year of GP2 drew to a close in 2007, Zaugg opted to miss the Valencia finale to do the A1 season-opener at Zandvoort instead – a smart decision, as he won. He returned to GP2 in 2010 and scored his only podium finish in the sprint race at Hockenheim. He went on to race in several Italian GT series most recently, in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo scoring five podiums in 11 races. In 2014 Lamborghini hired him to develop the Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo and GT3.

Andreas Zuber

UAE, 2006-2009, 80 starts, 1 pole, 2 wins, 11 podiums, 95 points
Half of the partnership which supplied one of GP2’s silliest crashes, Zuber and iSport team mate Timo Glock drove into each other immediately after pulling away from the front row at Magny-Cours in 2007. He did, however, pick up two wins in the category in 2006 and 2007. He remained for two further seasons, adding another seven podium finishes, but never managed to assemble a title tilt. Since then he has had three seasons in the FIA GT1 World Championship, picking up a single win, and he came second in the 24 Hours of Dubai in 2012, driving a Mercedes SLS AMG GT3.

The F1 graduates

Driver Years Wins C’ship Notes
Jules Bianchi 2010-11 1 3rd Seriously injured in a crash at Suzuka last year after scoring breakthrough points for Marussia in Monaco
Gianmaria Bruni 2005-06 3 7th Dropped down to GP2 after F1 stint with Minardi in 2004 but never made it back up
Sebastien Buemi 2007-08 2 6th One of few Red Bull juniors to do GP2, now a test driver for the team and reigning WEC title holder
Karun Chandhok 2007-09 2 10th Reunited with 2008 iSport team mate Bruno Senna for F1 debut with HRT in 2010
Max Chilton 2010-12 2 4th Ended 2012 strongly before making F1 debut alongside much quicker Bianchi. Now in Indy Lights
Jerome D’Ambrosio 2008-10 1 9th One year at Virgin, one start with Lotus as a substitute for the banned Romain Grosjean, now in Formula E
Lucas di Grassi 2006-09 5 2nd Runner-up to Timo Glock in 2007, then his team mate at Virgin for single F1 season three years later
Marcus Ericsson 2010-13 3 6th Couldn’t sustain DAMS’ string of titles in 2013 despite a lengthy apprenticeship in the category
Timo Glock 2006-07 7 1st Already an F1 driver before racing in GP2, switching to iSport in late 2006 put him on a path back to top
Romain Grosjean 2008-11 9 1st Two stints in GP2 either side of an unsuccessful 2009 F1 debut. The 2011 title win re-fired his confidence
Esteban Gutierrez 2011-12 4 3rd His F1 promotion was perhaps a little hasty, but having been dropped by Sauber he is now a Ferrari tester
Lewis Hamilton 2006 5 1st Instant title success put F1 promotion with McLaren beyond doubt. Unforgettable Istanbul recovery drive
Nico Hulkenberg 2009 5 1st Did a Hamilton’ with the same ART team in 2010, including a double win at Nurburgring home round
Kamui Kobayashi 2008-09 1 16th Seldom a force in GP2 (but won the 2008/09 Asia title) – Toyota connection led to his F1 promotion
Heikki Kovalainen 2005 5 2nd With better luck in Monaco he might have been GP2’s first champion. One-time F1 winner with McLaren
Pastor Maldonado 2007-10 10 1st No one else has won more GP2 races. Had a few prangs too, but ousted Hulkenberg at Williams for 2011
Kazuki Nakajima 2007 0 5th Consistent if unremarkable, Toyota backing got him into a Williams, now a Super Formula champion
Felipe Nasr 2012-14 4 3rd Pushed Jolyon Palmer hard for last year’s title, but unlike his adversary Nasr gained a promotion to F1
Giorgio Pantano 2005-08 9 1st Made F1 debut for Jordan after three years in F3000 but couldn’t secure comeback after taking GP2 title
Sergio Perez 2009-10 5 2nd Maldonado beat him to the title but both moved up to F1. Spent one year in Hamilton’s old McLaren seat
Vitaly Petrov 2006-09 4 2nd Took a while to come good in GP2 but had an unconventional background. Took a single F1 podium
Charles Pic 2010-11 3 4th Raced for F1 minnows Marussia and Caterham, now in Formula E while brother Arthur remains in GP2
Nelson Piquet Jnr 2005-06 5 2nd Drove for team set up by his father. His F1 career is remembered for the one crash which wasn’t accidental
Antonio Pizzonia 2007 0 27th Another driver who raced in GP2 after F1, Pizzonia only started five races
Nico Rosberg 2005 5 1st Won the inaugural title in splended fashion, now part of Mercedes all-GP2-champion line-up
Bruno Senna 2007-08 3 2nd Hit a dog at Istanbul in 2008, then drove one on F1 debut with HRT. Emulated uncle by joining Williams
Scott Speed 2005 0 3rd Consistency netted him third in sole GP2 season, but his F1 spell at Toro Rosso ended in fisticuffs
Giedo van der Garde 2009-12 5 5th Graduated from Caterham’s GP2 team to F1 squad. Won lawsuit after Sauber refused to run him this year
Sakon Yamamoto 2007-08 0 23rd Undistinguished in GP2 and F1, but only ever drove for tail-enders. Last seen as a Marussia reserve


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    13 comments on “The drivers of GP2’s first ten seasons: Part five”

    1. eighth in the 2008 Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup against the likes of Daniel Ricciardo, Roberto Merhi and Jean-Eric Vergne

      No mention of the eventual champion Valtteri Bottas?
      Also, that Bianchi-Vietoris battle just shows that GP2 are better off without DRS.

      1. @wsrgo

        Also, that Bianchi-Vietoris battle just shows that GP2 are better off without DRS.

        The past GP2 feature race (won by Vandoorne) showed that DRS isn’t necessary. He carved his way through the field just fine while the DRS system was not functioning for the entire field.

    2. Just a small detail on Ricardo Teixeira, he has double nationality and sometimes raced as a Portuguese while other time raced as Angolan (is this the right word in english?). In F2 I do remember seeing the flag of Angola before is name

      1. @johnmilk Zuber as well. He’s an Austrian by birth and ethnicity, but raced under the UAE flag in GP2.

      2. @johnmilk and @wsrgo – Think it depends on country where racing license is registered but don’t know for sure. Verstappen also has the Belgian nationality but races under the Dutch flag.

      3. I was about to say the same thing. Ricardo Teixeira seems to have the 2 nationalities but as far as I remember he drove under the Angolan flag in GP2 and F2. His F1 test for Lotus was under the Angolan racing license.
        Not sure that if he raced under the Portuguese flag in the first year of GP2, though.

        The official nationality is the one from his racing license. Grosjean is also Swiss but races with French license so officially considered French by the FIA.

    3. “Oliver Turvey”

      “GP2, Spa, 2010UK, 2010-2011, 22 starts, 1 pole, 4 podiums, 47 starts”

      I guess it should be 47 points :P

      Great article again!

    4. Superb series of articles. Thoroughly enjoyed them all.

    5. Again, thanks for this series. Its really good to read the names, remember the battles, seasons and ponder over what they have done after disappearing from the F1 weekends!

    6. Interesting that Maldonado has the most wins in GP2, I guess when he starts at the front and not in the middle of the pack he can be good.

      1. @mantresx well, given that he started four seasons in GP2, that’s hardly a surprise.

      2. @mantresx and with 6 already in the bag, Vandoorne is bound to beat that this year.

    7. The battle between Vietoris and Bianchi at Silverstone remains one of my best GP2 memories. I think he, as well as Turvey and Valsecchi, probably deserved at least to become regular test/reserve drivers in F1. When you compare them with Rosenzweig, Varhaug, Trummer, Teixeira, Serenelli, they stand out much more than they should, and despite being good drivers it’s probably the others which were… appalling.
      A small note @samvanput: Rosenzweig race for Addax, not Rapax.

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