GP2 Asia (or GP2 Middle East) returns… why?

Many who have been reading this post know well my complete opposition to the whole GP2 Asia concept.   Starting with this post I wrote several entries regarding the devastating effect of this series on the teams and the image of GP2 as a business.   Mainly, almost no Asian drivers took part, the top GP2 teams didn’t take the category too seriously and team economics were shattered by its structure.

I had the firm hope that Bruno Michel would see the light and would be able to accept that GP2 Asia was a flawed concept, and that in today’s economy it would be a good idea to put this idea to sleep.  Yet I now read in most magazines that GP2 Asia is back… though it should be called GP2 Middle East.  Please, explain to me why…

The calendar will consist of:

– Oct 23-24  Test – Abu Dhabi

– Oct 31-Nov 1  Race – Abu Dhabi (with F1)

– Feb 5-6  Race – Abu Dhabi

– Feb 26-27 Race – Bahrain

– TBD  Race – Bahrain (with F1)

* a fifth race at Losail circuit in Qatar is still pending confirmation and according to Autosport magazine would be slotted in between the 2 Abu Dhabi races

Comments about this preliminary calendar:

  • First race sounds nice… inaugurating a new racetrack, F1 support race, the works.  It is only 1 month after the season-ending race at Portimao which is OK, but it is 2 months away from today.  How many teams have a GP2 roster set-up?  How many teams have GP2 drivers signed?  Looks like a time crunch to begin with.
  • Depending on when the F1 race at Bahrain is (rumor is it will now open the 2010 season)  we will have a 4-race “top series” calendar spread over 5-6 months!  Sounds like a product without a market to me….
  • Hmmm… where is Dubai?

For me, the bottom line is that the organizers are preaching a reduced-cost series by grouping all races in the Middle East.  Autosport says:  “Asian circuits that have featured in previous seasons, such as Sentul and Sepang, have disappeared in an effort to reduce transportation costs.” Fair enough, but my question is:  reduce transportation costs for who?  GP2 cars were housed in a Dubai storage facility and then moved around by the organization, so the main reduction will be for them.  Yes, teams will be able to charge lower rates for racing to drivers, but the impact will be minimal.  Will spares be cheaper?  Will Mecachrome reduce its fees?  Will the organization travel lightly and more efficiently?

GP2 Asia is expensive because its structure is modeled after GP2.   No matter if the cars are racing in Sentul or Bahrain, the underlying weight of the whole organization is still there.

My recommendation is to call to the end of GP2 Asia, selling the cars off to private owners or to an entrepreneur willing to put together a championship, and let the drivers and/or teams go if they have the sporting or economic incentive to do so – much like what happened with the old F3000 and Enzo Coloni’s Euroseries.

One question still remains:  Which teams will go to GP2 Asia?  Will they still feel the pressure to take part in this off-season experiment?

I believe we will see more than one team stand up and say “no thanks…!”

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