The GP2 series gets its green light in Imola this weekend. At 9.30am
CET this Friday, the GP2 series will officially begin with the
running of the first practice session for our very first race
weekend in Imola. The expectancy surrounding the championship is
massive, perhaps greater than for any other single-seater series on
earth but for Formula One. As the new feeder category for the
world’s premier motor racing formula, the GP2 series will play out
its 23 races in full view of the F1 community – both teams and fans
With 24 of the most talented up-and-coming drivers in the world
competing for our inaugural championship, the battle is sure to be
fierce. With identical cars, engines and tyres at each driver’s
disposal, it is grit, determination and talent that will shine
through, and whoever emerges on top come the conclusion of our
season at our stand alone event in Bahrain, will truly be a worthy
Winter testing has not been without its problems, as every team and
driver made bold strides towards understanding their new machinery.
But what has remained obvious through it all is how close this
championship will be. In final testing in Spain last week, our top
15 drivers were consistently covered by less than a second. If this
trend continues into qualifying, and more importantly is translated
into race pace, there’s sure to be fireworks.
But who are the runners and riders? Who’s looking quick and who’s
looking quicker? Who’s the title favourite?
The answer, is everyone...
iSport International - 1: Scott Speed (USA) 2: Can Artam (TUR)
iSport International stunned GP2 series observers by grabbing the
much-desired number 1 for the inaugural season in our series launch
in early April. But it really shouldn’t have been that much of a
shock. Despite being created specifically to compete in the GP2
series, iSport International is born of a vast amount of experience
in a number of other formulas. Under the leadership of Paul Jackson
the team is pulling together quickly and is working incredibly well.
Red Bull driver Scott Speed has been one of the quickest men in
every testing session run thus far, and many are expecting him to
challenge for the title. His team-mate Can Artam is the first
Turkish driver to compete at this level, and the faith the team
shows in him and his potential mark him out as one to watch,
Hitech Piquet Sports - 3: Nelson Piquet Jr (BRA) 4: Alexandre
Another title favourite is Nelson Piquet Jr. One of three “sons of”
in the GP2 series, Nelsinho’s results speak for themselves. As the
youngest ever winner of the British F3 Championship his tender years
are already filled with the kind of experience that breeds F1
champions. His team-mate is South American F3 champ Xandi Negrão.
Together they form a fearsome line-up, and with the newly formed
Hitech Piquet Sports team combining the experience of two massively
successful F3 squads, the platform may well be in place for a
serious title challenge.
BCN Competicion - 5: Ernesto Viso (VEN) 6: Hiroki Yoshimoto (JPN)
BCN Competicion has only been around for two seasons, but the impact
Enrique Scalabroni’s team made on F3000 was undeniable. This year
the team will run two young and talented drivers who are both aiming
for the title. Ernesto Viso has been quite sensational in testing,
and the young Venezuelan is determined to make his mark in front of
the F1 community. His astounding progression from F3 to F3000 and
now to the GP2 series has marked him out as hot property and another
favourite. His team-mate is Japanese driver Hiroki Yoshimoto.
Hiroki, too, has been very impressive in testing. Not only is he
quick, but he’s consistent. Overlook BCN at your peril.
Super Nova International - 7: Giorgio Pantano (ITA) 8: Adam
He may have left it late, but in the end David Sears got the drivers
he wanted. And what a pair they are! Super Nova’s pedigree is
undeniable, and with one of the strongest driver line-ups on the
grid, the team is coming into the 2005 season with much expectation.
Giorgio Pantano may have got a rough deal in F1, but the cheeky
Italian’s class should never be overlooked… nor his passion or
fighting spirit. Northern Ireland’s Adam Carroll was the last minute
choice for Super Nova, and his signing rekindles the incredible
battle which was in evidence last season in British F3 between this
very quick British driver, and the man who eventually beat him to
the championship, Nelson Piquet Jr.
ART Grand Prix - 9: Nico Rosberg (GER) 10: Alexandre Prémat (FRA)
Born out of the ASM F3 team, and run by Nicolas Todt, the ART Grand
Prix team enters the GP2 series expecting much. The French team will
be running highly-regarded German ace Nico Rosberg, the son of 1982
F1 Champ Keke Rosberg, and young French prospect Alexandre Prémat.
Both these drivers have shown pace and skill in junior formulas, and
have impressed in winter testing. The team reports that both drivers
are pushing in exactly the same direction and that this, in turn, is
helping the team to develop at a very quick rate and high standard.
Wins are what the team is hoping for, and with a talented pair of
drivers and close-knit team, wins are what they are
DPR - 11: Olivier Pla (FRA) 12: Ryan Sharp (GBR)
Despite being the team with the longest history in international
motorsport, DPR is one of the smallest teams on the 2005 GP2 series
grid. The team, however, is united by a strong bond and the kind of
dedication and hard work that gets results. Olivier Pla and Ryan
Sharp have thus far seemed closely matched in testing, and the
team’s good showing in both race number qualifying and the final
testing session at Barcelona show just how good these guys could be
Dams - 14: Jose Maria Lopez (ARG) 15: Fairuz Fauzy (MAL)
Dams are another team with a long and rich history in motorsport,
and it enters the GP2 series hoping to continue this fine tradition.
With Jose Maria Lopez at the wheel of one of its cars, it has yet
another driver who many pundits are tipping for title glory. The
Argentine racer is confident ahead of the season’s start, and will
know the majority of circuits we will be visiting having spent 2004
racing in F3000. His team-mate Fairuz Fauzy is something of an
unknown quantity but has proved himself to be able in testing. 2005
will be a learning year for the Malaysian, with Dams committed to
his future as a challenger in 2006.
Coloni Motorsport - 16: Mathias Lauda (AUT) 17: Gianmaria Bruni
Coloni Motorsport comes to the GP2 series with its intentions clear…
to step up to Formula One. With an ex-F1 driver, an F1 legend in
Sergio Rinland and the son of a triple F1 world champion on board,
they are setting out their stall early. Italian Bruni has been very
quick in testing thus far, and Mathias Lauda, after competing in two
international championships in 2004, is quickly finding his feet.
With so many quality line-ups on the GP2 series grid in 2005, things
won’t be easy for anyone. But at Coloni, they’ve got their sights
Racing Engineering - 18: Neel Jani (CH) 19: Borja García (ESP)
Racing Engineering comes to the GP2 series on the back of a simply
incredible run in Spanish F3 in which it won every championship
between 2001 and 2004. The Spanish squad has high expectations to
continue this feat in the GP2 series, and with its strong driver
pairing it has every reason to be confident. Both have Formula One
experience and bucket loads of talent. Both Neel Jani and Borja
García should prove quick and are known for their battling qualities
and consistency. Certainly a team to watch.
Campos Racing - 20. Juan Cruz Alvarez (ARG) 21: Sergio Hernández
Campos is one of the only teams in 2005 who aren’t staking a claim
to the title from the offset. But be under no illusions, this team
isn’t here to make up the numbers. While the rhetoric may speak of a
learning year for the team and drivers alike, there is a fervent
passion and desire for success within the squad. With Alvarez and
Hernandez the team has two young and exciting drivers, and Alvarez
for one has been impressing of late in testing. While the team
itself believes the championship is a long shot, the class is there
to be able to fight for points, podiums and potentially wins.
Arden International - 22: Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) 23: Nicolas
As the F3000 benchmark squad, many were surprised to see Arden
collect only the 11th fastest time in the qualifying sessions for
race numbers at the GP2 series launch in early April. But that’s the
thing with this new series… past form has been thrown out of the
window and it really could be anyone’s year. To assume that Arden
has gone off the boil however would be a foolhardy mistake. This
squad is serious about all that it does, and with Kovalainen and
Lapierre it has yet another strong driver line-up. Both drivers have
been fast in testing. Don’t be duped by their lowly numbers. Arden
will be competitive and at this point remain many pundits’ favourite
for the inaugural crown.
Durango - 24: Clivio Piccione (MC) 25: Ferdinando Monfardini (ITA)
Durango is hoping for big things in the GP2 series, and the
combination of an experienced team and the youthful exuberance of
its two drivers could well pay off. In the course of winter testing
the team completed more miles than perhaps any other team, and with
this in mind, they appear incredibly well prepared for the
forthcoming season. Piccione and Monfardini work well together and
their friendship and similar direction on car set-up could prove to
be the ace up this team’s sleeve.
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