Teams (part I): the GP2 Stars

The GP2 stars are teams with a clearly winning track record in GP2, which now makes them the desired destination for any driver, especially those with at least €1 million in their hands. If the driver budgets are not enough, they have the capability to complement operating cost coverage with team sponsorship cash. The GP2 stars are:

  • ART: Driver income should be over the €2.2 million mark, as they are in a position to command (and obtain!) well over €1.0 million per driver. As mentioned in another post, they live off their early success in GP2, even after lackluster years in 2007 and 2008 (for their standards). Additionally, they have premium watchmaker Richard Mille that kicks in, I’m sure, a decent amount to make the ART operation highly profitable for its owners.  ART 2009 income should be near €2.5 million, in my estimates.
  • Barwa Addax: The #2 team in terms of status has evolved impressively in the past 2 years – with a clear vision and keen understanding of what GP2 is all about. Under the Campos name they were last and second-to-last in 2005 and 2006, jumping to 3rd in 2007 with Petrov and Pantano at the wheel. The arrival of Di Grassi in 2008 – substituting underperforming Renault (RDD) driver Ben Hanley – finally took the team to the #1 spot and 3rd in the driver’s chart. Driver income should be at around €1.1 million from Petrov and about €500k from RDD for Grosjean (more about the Di Grassi-Grosjean swap in a later post).  The difference here is that team owner Alejandro Agag has secured long-term sponsorship from Barwa, extending a deal that nets the team a healthy profit indeed. Their total revenues comfortably exceed €2.4 million for 2009.
  • Racing Engineering: After moving in the bottom half of the top-10 teams, RE finally made the jump to #4 in 2008 and won the driver’s championship. Had Javi Villa been more consistent, RE would have challenged Piquet for the #3 spot. Driver income for RE will be mainly derived from Dani Clos and his Mediapro backing, plus a partial revenue stream from Renault (RDD) for Lucas Di Grassi. Total from drivers should be around €1.6 million. The balance will come from new sponsor Fat Burner; my estimate is a minimum of €200k – the necessary amount to break even around €1.8 million.  Anything above that is well-deserved bottom line profit for Alfonso de Orleans, who continues to bet on a winning formula: 1 winner (sponsor-funded) and 1 competitive fully funded driver.
  • iSport: After winning the team and driver title in 2007 with Timo Glock and Andreas Zuber, iSport challenged again in 2008 with Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok. A better performance from the Indian driver would have given iSport is second consecutive team title, but the Petrov-Di Grassi duo at Campos proved to be more regular. After Bruno Senna’s decision to skip a third year in GP2 (decision which has backfired and left him in racing limbo), iSport was quick to sign funded drivers in Diego Nunes and WSR champ Giedo van der Garde. Diego, a driver who is evolving well, tested with most top teams and finally decided iSport is where is Brazilian consumer goods cash (Garoto and Nescafe, mainly) were going to end up. Van der Garde is also well funded by the McGregor Fashion Group, a Dutch-based firm with upper-end brands and clothing. I would estimate the total iSport budget in 2009 to be a little over €2.2 million – in this case almost exclusively from drivers.

For me these are the top 4 teams in GP2 for this year. They didn’t place 1-2-3-4 in the standings (Piquet GP was 3rd and ART was 5th), but they are the leaders in ongoing image and status for now. They have the necessary budget and no doubt the best drivers to continue their virtuous cycle of winning and being the objective of next year’s drivers. Let’s see if this holds true…

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