GP2 Middle East taking shape
September 30, 2009 2 Comments
Though a step in the right direction, holding a limited GP2 Asia season this year seems like an unnecessary evil for most GP2 teams.
Bruno Michel has just announced that there will be 4 meetings – a total of 8 races – concentrated at the Abu Dhabi and Bahrain tracks
- Oct 31/Nov 1 – Abu Dhabi
- Feb 5-6 – Abu Dhabi
- Feb 26-27 – Bahrain
- Mar 13-14 – Bahrain
GP2 Asia test on October 23 and 24 at Abu Dhabi
It is good to see Bruno Michel making some comments in Autosport magazine recognizing the financial difficulties teams are facing, such as:
- “I am happy to note that this calendar is in line with the economical strategy we implemented in GP2 Series this year”
- “We put together a programme that will not only generate good racing but will also keep costs in check and therefore will keep our series healthy. In fact, organising four rounds this time around compared to six the previous season, and having all of them take place only in the Middle East helps maintaining the freight costs at a reasonable level for everyone.”
But this is not enough, since the expense is there and the teams will have to seriously sweat it out to find drivers by the end of the month. As happened last year, I predict most drivers at the AD race will be there with seriously low budgets… or with free rides directly.
My issue here (as always) is the general rationale for holding GP2 Asia at all. Apart from the budget, which at this stage is a mystery to me, we go back to the basic problems of this championship: positioning. Why would any driver spend (my guess) about €250k to race in a series nobody is watching, raced during the off-season and in empty tracks? Only the initial Abu Dhabi race and the final Bahrain races make sense because of the F1 link. Who will want to race in the February races… and at what cost?
Without the China and Malaysia F1 support races, the series seriously loses attractiveness for drivers and sponsors. If that is taken away, what is the value proposition? It seems like stubbornness and the inability to accept that this has simply not worked.
From a sporting point of view, the results of last year’s GP2 Asia front-runners in the 2009 Main season bode terribly for the future of the category. Top teams don’t take this category seriously, using it as a testing ground and investing the minimum possible to break-even. Look at the top 4: Kobayashi, D’Ambrosio, Rodríguez and Valsecchi… enough said.
I will be surprised to see all previous GP2 Asia teams participating this season. Huge question marks loom over Durango, Coloni and SuperNova. Trident seems “safe” due to Kralev… but it may not be enough.
Curious to hear your opinions….