With last week’s announcement of Vitaly Petrov joining the Caterham F1 Team, the number of GP2 graduates racing in Formula One for the 2012 season comes up to 12, representing half of the current grid.
The twelve former GP2 drivers who will race next to the F1 champions, are proof and confirmation that the GP2 SeriesTM has met its main objective: to nurture and train young talents and lead them to the top of motorsport. Since its inception in 2005, the Series has constantly and regularly produced drivers who have stepped up to Formula One, starting from GP2 first ever champion Nico Rosberg to the latest crowned ace, 2011 champion Romain Grosjean. In fact, six out of seven GP2 champions are racing in F1 this season, reaffirming GP2 as the natural path to the pinnacle of motorsport.
To this day, fifty-one drivers have been given the opportunity to drive an F1 car as a direct result of their experience in GP2. On top of the twelve drivers signed for the 2012, six GP2 racers have been given the role of F1 reserve drivers. (Furthermore: like her big sister, GP3 SeriesTM keeps in line with producing great talents worthy of F1 with its 2011 Champion Valtteri Bottas having been signed as official reserve driver at Williams F1).
GP2 SeriesTM has always worked closely with FOM. Thanks to these ties, the Series has always run alongside F1 and in 2012 will share eleven race weekends with the elite of motorsport from Malaysia to Bahrain, through Europe and to Singapore. Being part of this prestigious environment enables the drivers to learn the circuits used by F1, but also introduces these young talents to the F1 paddock who can watch them closely each race.
GP2 laptimes are highly competitive with the final few rows on the F1 grid. Engines which provide over 600hp, no electronic gizmos such as traction control or power steering, plus ground effects and proper Pirelli P Zero slick tyres – the same one used in F1 – make the GP2/11 car powerful and tricky to handle.
To always keep in line with F1, Pirelli will also provide the GP2 drivers this season with “Prime” and “Option” tyres to use during a race weekends. They will thus face the important challenge of learning proper tyre management. This new regulation along with a brand new Point System will once again prove that GP2 Series in 2012 is the necessary stepping stone for young drivers who aspire to Formula One.