Teams (part II): the GP2 Survivors

After the top 4 teams in GP2 come what I would call the “survivors”.  They are survivors because they fight year after year – sometimes even every half-year – for their drivers and their budget.  Some years they make money or break-even, while others they lose a bit of money.

The GP2 Survivors:

  • Arden:  Coming off a 2003 and 2004 championship in International Fsperez3000, Christian Horner’s team started off strong in the inaugural GP2 season in 2005, challenging for the drivers title until the last race with Kovalainen at the wheel.  Since then, Arden has been a searching for its bearing, finding it few times, but has counted with the invaluable backing from Red Bull (Horner’s “real” employer).  For 2009 Arden has switched Red Bull for Telmex as a title sponsor through Sergio Perez.  I would set Arden’s total budget for 2009 just under €1.8 million – with most money coming from Perez and some from Mortara.  This will be a breakeven season for Arden, but they will survive.
  • Super Nova:  David Sears’ team, like Arden, came on strong from F3000 (2002 champs) and had a positive 2005 GP2 season finishing 3rd in the team standings with Carroll and Pantano, and 5th and 6th respectively in the drivers championship.  After rebounding slightly in 2007 with Filippi and Conway (after a mediocre 2006), Super Nova finished 2008 in a mid-pack 7th place (with Parente and Soucek).   In 2009 they will regain Luca Filippi and have drafted Javi Villa from Racing Engineering.   I estimate each driver brings it at most €700k each,  so Super Nova have signed these drivers optimstically hoping to find the missing €400 to €500k sometime during the season to break even.  The team was rumoured to be up for sale, so I’m not sure how Super Nova’s finances will look towards the summer.
  • Piquet GP:  Wildly inconsistent in their team results (6th, 2nd, 11th, 3rd), Piquet benefitted from Nelsinho’s results early on and suffered Xandi Negrao’s during the same period.  After Piquet Jr’s departure to Renault F1, the team has found little stability in its drivers.  2007 was their worst year in GP2, with the weak Negrao-Roldan Rodriguez lineup.  2008 should have been their year, with Maldonado and Zuber, but they fell short due to their lack of consistency.  For 2009, they have Rodriguez back and Alberto Valerio adding some Brazilian blood.  I seriously doubt their budget will be much more than €1.5 million – leaving Piquet GP in the red about €300k for 2009. As with the others in this Group B – my bet is they will somehow manage to survive.
  • DAMS:  Held up by its Toyota Racing Development (TRD) seat, DAMS is consistently a mid-pack runner in GP2.  Kobayashi is TRD’s big bet, after the success of Kaz Nakajima and his graduation to F1 in late 2007.   Jerome D’Ambrosio is another good driver, growing well in GP2 after his Formula Master title in 2007.  Budget-wise, they should be the strongest of this group, though slightly under the targeted €1.8 million breakeven mark.  DAMS can support a year of this €200-300k loss, partially subsidised by its highly lucrative A1GP presence.  Definitely a solid team that will endure 2009.
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