The FIA Formula 2 Championship (previously known as GP2 Series) is a form of open wheel motor racing introduced in 2005 following the discontinuation of the long-term Formula One feeder series, Formula 3000. The format was conceived by Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore, while Ecclestone also has the rights to the name GP1. In 2010 the GP3 Series class was launched, as a feeder class for the GP2 series.
Designed to make racing affordable for the teams and to make it the perfect training ground for life in Formula One, GP2 has made it mandatory for all of the teams to use the same chassis, engine and tyre supplier so that true driver ability is reflected. All but three races have taken place as support races at Formula One race weekends to boost the series' profile, to give drivers experience of the Grand Prix environment, and to take advantage of the infrastructure (marshals, medical facilities etc.) in place for a Formula One event. GP2 mainly races on European circuits, but has appearances on other international race tracks as well with their most recent races in the 2012 season at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia and the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore.
Many drivers have used GP2 as a stepping stone into Formula One. The 2005 Champion Nico Rosberg was hired by the Williams team for the 2006 F1 campaign, 2006 GP2 winner Lewis Hamilton made the transition to F1 the following year with McLaren and the 2007 Champion Timo Glock to Toyota for the 2008 F1 season. 2009 GP2 champion Nico Hülkenberg moved up to a Williams F1 race driver in the 2010 Formula 1 season. In addition, Heikki Kovalainen (2005), Nelson Piquet Jr. (2006) and Lucas di Grassi (2007) —all runners up— became Renault test drivers the following year. All three earned F1 seats, but have since been replaced.
Karun Chandhok, Bruno Senna and Vitaly Petrov were also granted an F1 seat in 2010. For 2011 Pastor Maldonado was granted the hot seat at Williams. This meant that Nico Hülkenberg was deposed by Williams. Sergio Pérez was given the drive alongside Kamui Kobayashi, another former GP2 driver and GP2 Asia Series winner, at Sauber. Jérôme d'Ambrosio got his Virgin Racing drive for the 2011 season. However, some drivers have reached Formula One without competing in GP2, for example Paul di Resta, Daniel Ricciardo, Jean-Éric Vergne, Valtteri Bottas, and Kevin Magnussen.
During 2011, it was announced that in 2012 the GP2 and GP2 Asia Series would combine to make a single, longer GP2 series.
Current Formula One drivers that have come from GP2 racing include Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Romain Grosjean, Stoffel Vandoorne, Jolyon Palmer and several more. The series has as such established itself as a good place to train or recruit future F1 drivers. Lewis Hamilton stepping straight into the McLaren team and Nico Hülkenberg, Pastor Maldonado and Kazuki Nakajima going straight to Williams have particularly highlighted how F1 teams take GP2 seriously, and Hamilton's Formula One World Championship title in only his second year in F1 is probably the strongest example of the series creating highly competitive racers. It is worth noting that only six of the 26 drivers that went on to race Formula 1 cars were GP2 champions, so there is no direct correlation between winning the GP2 title and earning a seat in F1, either direction.
On Friday, drivers have a 45-minute free practice session and a 30-minute qualifying session. The qualifying session decides the grid order for Saturday's race which has a length of 180 kilometres (112 miles).
During Saturday's race, each driver has to make a pit stop in which at least two tyres have to be changed.
On Sunday there is a sprint race of 120 kilometres (75 miles). The grid is decided by the Saturday result with top 8 being reversed, so the driver who finished 8th on Saturday will start from pole position and the winner will start from 8th place.2005–2011
Pole for Saturday races: 2 points
Fastest lap: 1 point in each race. Driver recording fastest lap has to drive 90% of race laps. The driver must now also start the race from his allocated grid position and as of 2008 must finish in the top ten of the race to be eligible for the fastest lap point.
With this points system, the most number of points anyone can score in one round is 20 by claiming pole position, winning both races with the fastest lap in each race. This feat has only been achieved twice in GP2 racing's short history; by Brazilian Nelson Piquet Jr. in the 9th round of the 2006 season in Hungary and by German Nico Hülkenberg in the 5th round of the 2009 season in Germany.2012 onwards
From the 2012 season the GP2 series changed its scoring system. Feature races will be run with a scoring system similar to the one used in Formula One:
The top eight finishers in a sprint race receive points as follows:
Pole position for the feature race will now be worth 4 points, and 2 points will be given for the fastest lap in each race. Therefore, the maximum number of points a driver can score at any round will be 48.
The GP2 Series car is used by all of the teams, and features a Dallara carbon-fiber monocoque chassis powered by a Mecachrome normally-aspirated fuel-injected V8 engine and Pirelli dry slick and rain treaded tyres. Overall weight is 688 kg including driver.
The 2011 specification GP2 car has been designed by Dallara Automobili. The 2006 GP2 car featured a biplane rear wing, with the triplane rear wing used in previous seasons only to be used at the Monaco race. The front upper and lower wishbones have been reinforced, as have the front and rear suspension uprights. Currently, Dallara GP2/11 are the current chassis since debut in 2011 and will be used until end of 2017 season. The price of Dallara GP2/11 GP2 Series cars are approximately up to €1.5 million-€2 million per car (including wheels, tyres, wings, steering wheel and other components excluding engine).
The 4.0-litre normally-aspirated electronic indirect fuel-injected Mecachrome V8 engine features internal, cartographic and software upgrades designed to improve performance and fuel consumption. The engine produces 612 hp and 500 Nm (380 ft-lb) of torque @ 8000 rpm. GP2 Series engines are rev-limited to 10000 rpm and need a rebuild after 4000 to 4500 km. The valve train is a dual overhead camshaft configuration with four valves per cylinder. The Mecachrome V8 engine weight is 326 lb (148 kg). The crankshaft is made of alloy steel, with five main bearing caps. The pistons are forged aluminum alloy, while the connecting rods are machined alloy steel. The electronic engine management system is supplied by Magneti Marelli, firing a high-power inductive (coil-controlled) ignition system. The engine lubrication is a dry sump type, cooled by a single water pump.
Current GP2 Series engine formula specifications have been used since 2005. New engine regulations with V6 single-turbocharged direct-injected engines will be introduced for 2018 along with a new Dallara GP2/18 chassis. The price of Mecachrome GP2 Series engines are approximately €150,000 per engine unit.
Since 2005, Elf exclusively providing the LMS 102 unleaded fuel and also Total Quartz 9000 lubricants (except Pertamina Fastron lubricant with Sean Gelael, Philo Paz Armand, Antonio Giovinazzi and Mitch Evans) for all GP2 Series cars.
The current gearbox has been manufactured by Hewland and features an 8-position barrel with ratchet body and software upgrades as well as a new transverse shafts fixing system designed to facilitate improved gear selection. Currently, the GP2 Series gearbox uses a 6-speed semi-automatic configuration with electronically-controlled paddle shifters with reverse operated by Reverse button on the steering wheel.
O.Z. Racing exclusively supplies wheel rims for all GP2 Series cars.
Similar to the 2011 change for Formula 1, Pirelli is now the sole tyre supplier for the series. The GP2 series runs the same compounds as F1. The front tyre size are 245/660-R13 and rear tyre size are 325/660-R13.
Brembo supplies monobloc brake calipers and disc bells, which are exclusive to GP2. Hitco also supplies carbon brake discs and pads for GP2 Series. The brake discs are 278 x 28 mm in size (similar to Formula One).
The car also features internal cooling upgrades, a new water radiator, radiator duct, oil/water heat exchanger, modified oil degasser, new oil and water pipes and new heat exchanger fixing brackets.
Since 2011, XAP Technology exclusively providing the XAP single-seater GP2 steering wheel as well as XAP SX steering wheel dash display. The XAP steering wheel features 6 buttons in the front with 5 paddles (DRS, gear shift and clutch) in the back of steering wheel.
According to research and pre-season stability tests, the 2005 model can go 0 to 200 km/h (124 mph) in 6.7 seconds. The car has a top speed of 320 km/h (198 mph) meaning that it is the fastest single seater racing car behind Formula One and IndyCar Series.Engine displacement: 4.0 L (244 cu in) DOHC V8
Gearbox: 6-speed paddle shift gearbox (must have reverse)
Weight: 1,517 lb (688 kg) (including driver)
Power output: 612 hp (456 kW)
Fuel: Elf LMS 102 RON unleaded
Fuel capacity: 33 US gallons (125 litres)
Fuel delivery: Fuel injection
Aspiration: Naturally aspirated
Length: 5,065 mm (199 in)
Width: 1,800 mm (71 in)
Wheelbase: 3,120 mm (123 in)
Steering: Power-assisted rack and pinion
The 2011 model can go 0 to 200 km/h (124 mph) in 6.6 seconds. The car has a top speed of 332 km/h (208 mph) with the Monza aero configuration.
At the end of the 2016 Formula One season, 30 out of 174 drivers have raced in Formula One (17.2%).
Notes:Red background denotes a Formula One drivers' champion.
Green background denotes an active Formula One driver.
Gold background denotes a GP2 champion.
Drivers marked with a † started Formula One on mid-season.
Glock had four Grand Prix starts in 2004 for Jordan; his first Formula One team after driving in GP2 2006–07 was Toyota.
Romain Grosjean returned to GP2 after losing his 2010 Formula One seat. He signed a contract with Lotus Renault for 2012 and returned to Formula One.
Alexander Rossi occupied Roberto Merhi's seat at Manor for five of the last seven races of the 2015 Formula 1 season.
2008 GP2 champion Giorgio Pantano drove the 2004 season in Formula One for Jordan before driving in GP2. He had previously driven in F3000.
Gianmaria Bruni and Antônio Pizzonia also both raced in Formula One before making race appearance in GP2.
Sakon Yamamoto raced in F1 with Super Aguri in 2006. For the next year, he moved down to GP2, before returning to F1 with Spyker mid-season.
The 2005 Season was the first of the series, it succeeding the now defunct Formula 3000 championship. Arden International won the last F3000 titles, thus starting as one of the favourites.
The 2005 season began on April 23, 2005 on the weekend of the San Marino Grand Prix at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola, Italy. In the pre-season test to decide the inaugural season's car numbers, the iSport International and HiTech/Piquet Racing teams showed a competitive edge. The latter team was largely funded by the former Formula One world champion Nelson Piquet in order to aid his son's route to the premier Formula sport.
The championship lasted 23 rounds, two races occurring a weekend with the exception of a single race in Monaco. It was won by German Nico Rosberg, who was subsequently hired by the WilliamsF1 Team.
It was also notable for being the only season that GP2 used grooved tyres like F1 cars rather than slicks.
The 2006 season was the second of the series. After championship holder Nico Rosberg's move to the Williams F1 team, and runner-up Heikki Kovalainen's move to be reserve driver at Renault F1, Nelson Piquet Jr. in the Piquet Sports car was installed as the early title favourite, though the ART Grand Prix cars of Alexandre Prémat and Lewis Hamilton also had fairly short odds, given ART were reigning champions.
For the first time, the season began on a calendar separate to the 2006 Formula One calendar, starting out at the Circuit de Valencia, in Valencia, Spain on April 8, 2006 with Piquet Jr. the first victor.
Piquet raced into an early lead, before Lewis Hamilton came back into the fray. A dominant run by the Briton took him into the championship lead, before the balance came back into Piquet Jr.'s favour.
After an exciting championship battle lasting 20 races, Hamilton claimed the title in the penultimate race, at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, in Monza, Italy, and celebrated with a second place in the 21st and final round.
The 2007 GP2 Series began on 13 April at the Bahrain International Circuit, and completed on 30 September at the Circuit de Valencia (which was the only race that wasn't on the F1 calendar). Eventual champion Timo Glock was a driving force throughout the series, but came under stiff competition from Lucas di Grassi in the closing stages- however, with a convincing win at the last race in Valencia, Glock sealed the championship.
The 2008 GP2 Series featured the same teams as in previous seasons. This was also the first time that the calendar supported all of the F1 races in Europe with a late deal to run at the Valencia Street Circuit. It was the first season to feature a new car design from Dallara, the GP2/08, the only non-F1 car to pass the 2007 FIA crash test in full. In the United Kingdom, the 2008 GP2 Series was exclusively aired on ITV4 from April 2008. It was won by Giorgio Pantano for Racing Engineering, with Bruno Senna finishing distant runner-up.
The 2009 season began and ended on the Iberian peninsula, with the first race weekend at Circuit de Catalunya (9–10 May) and ending in the stand-alone headline event (i.e. not supporting a corresponding Formula One event) at Portugal's Autódromo Internacional do Algarve (19–20 September). The title was won by German rookie Nico Hülkenberg at the penultimate round of the championship at Monza, the second time the championship had been won before the last race.
The 2010 season contained ten rounds, all of which were supporting F1 World Championship. The series started in May at Catalunya and concluded at Abu Dhabi in November.
Pastor Maldonado won the title in his fourth season in the series. He won a record-breaking six successive feature races mid-season. Sergio Pérez was his closest rival, but the title was sealed already in the penultimate round at Monza.
The 2011 season contained nine rounds and a final tenth round with no points, all of which were supporting F1 World Championship. The series started in May at Istanbul and concluded at Abu Dhabi in November.
The championship was won by reigning GP2 Asia champion Romain Grosjean at the penultimate round of the series. Following a three-year cycle, the previous GP2 chassis was replaced by a brand new car, the GP2/11, built by Italian racing car manufacturer Dallara. The series will change tyre supplier from Bridgestone to Pirelli for 2011–13. The 2011 season saw the addition of two new teams to the grid, Carlin and Team AirAsia. Meanwhile, DPR was not selected to continue in the series.
The 2012 season contained twelve rounds, eleven of which supported the F1 World Championship and one stand alone round in Bahrain. The series started on March 24 in Malaysia and concluded in Singapore on September 23. Davide Valsecchi (DAMS) won the title by 25 points from Arden's Luiz Razia, with Lotus GP's Esteban Gutiérrez third.
For the 2012 season, Team Lazarus replaced Super Nova Racing using the name "Venezuela GP Lazarus". Lotus ART was renamed "Lotus Grand Prix", reflecting their increased relationship with title sponsor 'Lotus Cars'.
The 2013 season contained eleven rounds, all of which supported the F1 World Championship. The series started on March 23 in Malaysia and concluded in Abu Dhabi on November 3.
Fabio Leimer won the title driving for Racing Engineering, with a total of 201 points and 3 wins. Sam Bird, driving for Russian Time, finished runner up.
The 2014 GP2 Series contained eleven rounds, all of which supported the F1 World Championship. The series started on April 5 in Bahrain and concluded in Abu Dhabi on November 23.
Jolyon Palmer won the title in Sochi driving for DAMS. Stoffel Vandoorne, driving for ART Grand Prix, finished runner up in Abu Dhabi.
The 2015 season contained eleven rounds, supporting the F1 World Championship and the final round of the World Endurance Championship at the 6 Hours of Bahrain. It started in Bahrain on 18 April and finished in Abu Dhabi on 29 November.
Stoffel Vandoorne won the title in Sochi driving for ART Grand Prix. Alexander Rossi, driving for Racing Engineering, finished runner-up.
The 2016 season contained eleven rounds, supporting the F1 World Championship. It started in Spain on May 14 and finished in Abu Dhabi on November 27.
Pierre Gasly won the title driving for Prema Racing (who won the team's championship in their debut season). Antonio Giovinazzi, also driving for Prema, finished runner up.
The 2017 season will contain eleven rounds, ten supporting the F1 World Championship and a stand-alone event in Jerez. It will start in Bahrain on April 15 and will finish in Abu Dhabi on November 26.
The television rights are held by Formula One Management, which also manages the rights to Formula One.
Sky Sports F1 currently broadcasts every race live in the UK and Ireland, while Setanta Sports also broadcasts in Ireland.
The races are also broadcast in the United States on Comcast's NBC Sports Network, while in Brazil it's broadcast by cable TV channel SportTV. In Venezuela MeridianoTV broadcast, and in the rest of Latin America, the races from 2012 are shown on delayed in South Cone and live in North Cone on Fox Sports +.
Other European countries: In Spain, races are broadcast by MarcaTV, Antena 3 and TV3. In Germany PayTV Channel Sky broadcast all races live, and in Finland Pay-TV-channel MTV3 MAX broadcasts all races and qualifying live. RAI broadcasts only the races.
In the UK, races were being shown on Setanta Sports until the channel ceased broadcasting in June 2009. Setanta took up coverage of the series from ITV, who had shown GP2 in all four seasons to date (highlights only for 2005–2007, live coverage for 2008). However, by the German GP, Setanta GB had gone into administration so UK viewers could have been left without a GP2 broadcaster, but British Eurosport subsequently picked up the UK rights to GP2 for the next two and a half years. Setanta Ireland continues to operate for the Irish market and retain GP2 rights for that country. In February 2012, it was announced that Sky Sports F1 had secured the broadcasting rights to the GP2 series and will broadcast every race live in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Formula One pundit Will Buxton provided commentary for the UK broadcast until he departed at the end of the 2014 season and was succeeded by Alex Jacques.