The lack of GP2 champs in F1

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    For the third year running, the reigning GP2 champion has failed to find an F1 seat. There was a time when the GP2/F3000 champion was guaranteed to get into F1 the next year – I even vaguely remember the 1988 season I think, when the top five finishers in the championship all graduated to F1.

    You have to ask, why does the FIA not promote their own feeder series better? And as it’s clearly a money issue that stops the champs graduating why can’t they do this – guarantee a $15m fund for the winner, to be used towards sponsorship for an F1 drive the next year? Runner-up gets $10m, third place $5m.

    That would stop recruitment from Formula Renault 3.5, making those drivers gain important experience in GP2, and preventing ‘shooting’ star’ careers like Kevin Magnussens’.

    Any thoughts?

    mark adams

    and who runs GP2 Bernie and Bernie doesn’t spends $30 m on talents. Besides the last 3 GP2 champions didn’t convince me they could make it into f1. what has Valsechi done after his title, if he was such a talent that f1 missed he should be a star in Indycar,dtm or wec becouse those team would line up for him.
    The drivers who managed to win the title in their first year like Hamilton,Rosberg and Hulkengerg got in becouse they conviced the teams they where the real deal, Valsechi, Leimer and Palmer couldn’t. Beside a $15m would make it in a crashfest more then it is already is.


    @sepulhead surely Valsecchi, Leimer and Palmer have greater credentials to be in F1 than Max Chilton, Giedo Van Der Garde and Marcus Ericsson?

    mark adams

    and what can Chilton, Van der Garde and Erickson ever achieve in F1, Nothing. Teams at the back of the grid will use their money until it runs out and then they will hire another paydriver. Make F1 survivable for f1 teams at the back and Talented Drivers like Vandoorne, Frijns , Marciello … can get a drive in a sauber or Haas F1 and that teams can hire a talented driver they choose and not forced on to them.


    The last 3 champions didn’t light the world on fire.
    Sure Palmer had a brilliant season. But only after a few seasons of GP2 that weren’t that great.
    He had a super season with the best team.

    Then Vandoorne is more exciting as he light up the grid in FR3.5 and GP2 as a rookie in what isn’t the best team for the last few years (ever since pirelli came in I think).

    If a rookie storms to the title I bet he will get to F1 the next season.

    Iestyn Davies

    It’s fair to say that Bianchi, Magnussen and Sainz Jr are generally more promising than Gutierrez, Ericsson or Nasr, but all 6 have won titles quite quickly in the junior ladder, showing potential is there. Valsecchi, Leimer and Palmer (and Chilton) instead decided to learn their craft in GP2, rather than up the junior ladder, which then is held against them as proof of being slow learners.

    McLaren have just handled Magnussen/Vandoorne badly. Magnussen should have been in GP2 this year, while Vandoorne (still ready and waiting) got a year in alongside Button, before stepping back to reserve driver. He’s the Hamilton level talent, while Magnussen still needs that GP2 experience to round off his rough traffic edges. With that, Magnussen is also a top talent. But @sepulhead is correct.


    @fastiesty what? magnussen won the formula renault 3.5 title, vandoorne did not. clearly mclaren chose magnussen because he beat vandoorne in 2013! and it’s not like the year in gp2 hasn’t done vandoorne any good, he’s learned a lot.

    Iestyn Davies

    @rigi True, I thought that too at first glance. However, consider that it was Magnussen’s second year in the category – it’s like saying that Palmer beat Vandoorne in GP2 this year.

    Vandoorne’s record: 1st; 5th, 4th; 1st, 1st; 2nd; 1st – he’s lost to Frijns x2, Sainz Jr x2, Kvyat x2, Stevens; Magnussen – basically, only F1 level drivers, and Stevens only from having a two season disadvantage in the same car (much like GP2 this year, that I would give to Vandoorne solely on Feature races). Kvyat he then beat to the title the next season. 4 equivalent titles in 5 years (or 3 from 4 before 2014). Looks like a Hamilton/Hulkenberg type prospect, which is borne out by how impressive Kvyat looked this year.

    Magnussen’s record: 1st; 7th, 2nd; 3rd; 2nd; 5th; 1st – lost to Costa, Vergne, Felix da Costa x2, Quaife-Hobbs, Monras, Berthon; Dillmann, Abt; Nasr; Bianchi, Frijns, Bird. One thing in his favour is that he was slightly younger, and had 2 equivalent titles in 6 seasons (5 years). But he lost to some drivers we might not consider F1 standards. It’s fair to say that Vandoorne might have pressed Button a bit harder, while Magnussen could have taken off his rough edges in GP2.


    I’m pretty sure the FIA is doing its best with promoting its own championship by awarding more points for a superlicense for a GP2 champion than a FR3.5 champion. It’d be unwise to give the winning driver money, as there is no guarantee they will go to another FIA sanctioned championship (Renault awards the winners of the FR2.0 championship, but not the FR3.5 championship for that reason; they don’t want to give money to a random F1 team).

    GP2 is too crowded. A lot of drivers stick around for ages, making them very experienced, which is a major asset in a championship full of young guns. Palmer, Leimer and Valsecchi are champions in the same way Glock and Pantano were; they knew the cars, the tracks and had the best team. It’s be newsworthy had Palmer not won the title and let’s not forget how chaotic the 2013 season was, with Coletti getting a head start and basically failed to score in the second half of the season and more stories like that. The 2013 GP2 title was a bit like winning the 24 hours of Le Mans, instead of a championship.

    Red Bull and McLaren seemed to prefer FR3.5 because there is more run time as well.

    Finally, the comparison to F3000 in 1988 is especially slanted since there are currently 18 cars lined up for Melbourne, with well over 30 cars lining up for the first race in the 1989 season. The top teams have been ‘locked’ for years, with only Hamilton’s move to Mercedes and Webber’s retirement allowing some drivers to move on up to top teams (Perez, Magnussen, Ricciardo, Kvyatt). Basically we’ve had the same ‘top drivers’ for some years now, which means the top teams won’t hire midfield drivers that often and the midfield gets cluttered (though the current midfield probably is better than the old days of old race winners clinging to F1). With the loss of teams like Minardi and Jordan, the element of teams hiring young guns straight out of feeder series has become a hard one. Even HRT, Marussia and Caterham seemed to hold on to drivers longer than the typical backmarker of the past.

    If you want to bake an apple pie, first you must invent the universe. If you want GP2 drivers to graduate to F1, first you need to invent an F1 that allows young drivers to come in.

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