Impact on GP2 from Toyota’s goodbye
November 6, 2009 3 Comments
Toyota had been present in GP2 since 2006 through its Toyota Development Program (TDP). Drivers that the Japanese automaker sponsored were Franck Perera, Kazuki Nakajima, Kohei Hirate and Kamui Kobayashi, with DAMS and Trident.
Now that Toyota F1 has left the sport, it is quite natural that the TDP program will follow, leaving in its tracks current drivers – most notably Kobayashi, F3 Euroseries driver Andrea Caldarelli, Henki Waldschmidt, Macau F3 winner Keisuke Kunimoto and Kazuya Oshima.
Impact on GP2? Well, frankly little. One driver per year does little to promote a sport and none of the drivers had a major impact on the GP2 Main Series itself. Yes, Kobayashi won the GP2 Asia championship – but we all know how much that’s worth.
It is a pity, though, that an F1 junior program leaves GP2. The category needs more of these, and I hope we will begin to see more and more of these as F1 gains more solid footing in the heels of this financial crisis and significant team restructuring. The junior team concept was quite extended in the final years of F3000, but has not taken as solid a foothold as GP2 grows into maturity.
What the Toyota goodbye does mark is the only major Asian link for GP2. Apart from Karun Chandhok, the only real source of Asian talent was TDP. Now this link is gone, and with it the short-term objective of broadening the category’s horizons.