GP2’s weaknesses in 2010 shining through

With just about 24 hours to the official start of the 2010 GP2 Main season, we are still waiting on any type of confirmation from the 5 teams with seat still up for sale this year.    At this time last year, teams pulled driver from the lists of “usual suspects” to fill up their seats, mainly Davide Rigon, Giacomo Ricci or James Jakes.

Though 2010 looked to potentially be a brighter year financially for these teams, there seems to still be a relevant hangover that is holding back drivers and their backers/sponsors from committing to GP2 this year.  Reasons?  Several come to mind:

First, drivers with any relevant budget (in March GP2-speak that means above €800k) are holding out for the best deal possible.  Though all drivers have a preference of which team they will race with, at the end they just want to be part of the show.  The difference between racing with Coloni, Rapax or Trident is a thin one… only that 2nd Arden seat stands out.

Second, competition is steep this year.  With F3 Euroseries practically dead in the water (what a pity) and Formula Master canceled,  you would think GP2 would emerge victorious.  But instead of re-aligning GP2 and strengthening it, the organization decided to push forward with the GP3 concept.  Today, the value proposition of racing alongside F1, one of GP2’s important selling points, has been diluted by its sister series.   I have already written on my opinion regarding this decision, where the concept is a bit off (too expensive) and the timing is just terrible.

Finally, GP2 has not done enough to bring down budgets to reality.  The world has changed, the economy has changed and the realities of most (not all) drivers and sponsors has changed.  Renault driver development still exists in some way through Gravity, but Honda is gone, Toyota is gone and Red Bull gave up on GP2 in 2009.   The happy spending of the 2005-2008 seasons may never return, and the organization cannot blindly ignore that fact.

GP2’s track record is second to none.  The relevance of the series in F1 is unquestionable.  But coming up with €1.2 million-plus is a daunting task… no matter what success rate the category has.  It’s time for some changes in the thinking and strategy of the organization.

The first test (for the organizers) will come when they decide what to do with the 2011-2016 contracts and the renovation of the current Dallara chassis.  If they want my input, they know where to find me.

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2009 Paul Ricard test results

March 11-13 saw the first taste of the 2009 GP2 season at the Paul Ricard test circuit. 3 track configurations were used in the 3 testing days, with the following top 5 in each:

Day 1:
Javier Villa – Super Nova: 1’11″930
Lucas DiGrassi – Racing Engineering – 1’12″079
Kamui Kobayashi – DAMS – 1’12″140
Romain Grosjean – Barwa Addax – 1’12″262
Pastor Maldonado – ART – 1’12″270 Read more of this post