The GP2 series returns this weekend in Bahrain with its 10th season, 26 cars are planned for the season opener with Conor Daly, Raffaelle Marciello, Stoffel Vandoorne and Mitch Evans driving among the field.
The concept is that GP2 is the direct feeder series to F1 and follows the F1 calendar across 11 rounds of the championship. The cars are identical Dallara GP2/11 chassis with a mecachrome 4 litre V8 engine and a mandatory pitstop during the feature race.
The series offers five tyre compounds, Supersoft, Soft, Medium and hard with series organisers allowing for five tyre sets per driver across the weekend, three sets of the Prime, and two of the option, similar In style to F1 with much lower allocation. This weekend the choice has being set at Hard and Soft.
The format remains of two races across the weekend with 170km’s of racing on the Saturday (32 laps of Sakhir, Bahrain) and a sprint race on the Sunday of 125 km’s. (23 laps)
The major series changes this year are the return of the collaboration between Russian Time and isport international as well as the return of Adrian Campos’s eponymous Campos racing organisation. The series has a change of rules on the tyre compounds too, governing that both tyre compounds must be used during the 170km feature race unless the race is declared wet. The only other rule change the series experiences in 2014 are that free practice has being extended to 45 minutes.
Anyway the main contenders, Last years champions Racing Engineering enter the 2014 season with a whole new lineup of reigning FIA F3 European champion Raffaelle Marciello and GP2 season contender in 2013, Stefano Coletti, creating a mix of youth and experience although ultimately, a rather strong pairing.
Last years champion for Racing Engineering, Fabio Leimer under the Gp2 rules is ineligible to compete in 2014.
The possible issues have to be Coletti’s consistency throughout the season and Marciello’s graduation from Formula 3 into GP2. 2013 started fantastically for Coletti. By the time, he won his home grand prix in Monaco the expectation was that Coletti was in with a good chance of winning the title after his win at home, unfortunately it went from a dream season to a nightmare after Monaco, with Coletti struggling massively. Admittedly not every bad race was his fault but ultimately, the second half of the season completely ruined his chances of claiming the title and the consistency needs to improve with Ferrari Driver Academy protégé Marciello is in the other side of the garage.
Mitch Evans joins RT Russian time for 2014, The New Zealander goes into his second GP2 season with a move of team from Arden to MT Russian Time. Mitch showed incredible talent in the Toyota Racing series previously. A series that competes across New Zealand across the European winter with great success in recent years, drivers in the series in previous seasons have included 2014 Macau GP winner, Alex Lynn as well as Lucas Auer, Raffelle Marciello and Nissan GT academy driver Jann Mardenborough.
After winning over in New Zealand, Mitch Evans moved into GP3 with MW Arden (Mark Webber/Christian Horner’s) GP3 team claiming the title in 2012, graduating to GP2 with the team in 2013.
I have high hopes for Mitch Evans in 2014, lets see how he gets along. The Russian Time squad last year was extremely strong with Sam Bird, although due to the unfortunate death of the team owner, has experienced some major changes over the winter, exactly how that will affect 2014’s results simply is yet to be determined.
Stoffel Vandoorne enters GP2, The World Series by Renault runner up to Kevin Magnussen is placed in ART Grand Prix by Mclaren, alongside his third driver duties for Mclaren and is certainly one to watch this season as he progresses towards an F1 seat.
It’s a shame that Conor Daly seems unable to secure a full season drive at present, The talented American is racing with Venezuela GP Lazarus this weekend in Bahrain, I hope he manages to secure a full season entry either in GP2, Indycar or elsewhere following this event. He certainly deserves it.
I’m looking forward to GP2 overall this season, It got some rough publicity last year due to some driving standards issues, This season seems to have multiple potential contenders for the title creating a rather competitive grid and I’m excited to see how the series goes throughout 2014.
When to see GP2 this weekend
Gp2 Feature Race – Saturday April 5 2014 13:10
GP2 Sprint Race – Sunday April 6 2014 14:15
Times are Bahrain Local time (GMT+3)