GP2 is back this weekend, starting at Malaysia alongside Formula One. There are some new teams from last year – Russian Time replaces iSport, Hilmer replace Ocean, and MP Motorsport replace Coloni. ART, meanwhile, revert to their original name.
DAMS have fielded the champion for two years in a row, but can they make it three? Marcus Ericsson has a long GP2 history with 2 wins and several podiums, and Stephane Richelmi finished 18th in his first full season.
ART are the most successful team in GP2 and GP3, and retain James Calado, while bringing Daniel Abt up from GP3. They’re a loyal team with good drivers. Calado almost won the championship last year despite being a rookie.
Arden have brought GP3 champion Mitch Evans up to their GP2 squad, and partnered him with Johnny Cecotto Jr, who has been too long and too unreliable in GP2. He won two races last year, but was also disqualified in Valencia.
Racing Engineering have good driver Fabio Leimer in their team. Leimer was tipped for the championship last year, but he has so far lacked the ability to get there. He has to prove why he’s still around. His teammate Julian Leal has scored 9 points in two years of GP2.
Carlin as usual have chosen skilled drivers. Felipe Nasr was a rookie with DAMS last year and got several podiums. Jolyon Palmer proved himself in his second season of GP2, and was unlucky to have a lot of mechanical issues.
Russian Time might be newcomers, but their GP2 lineup is stunning and could challenge for the title. Tom Dillmann won an excellent race last season before he was dropped due to budget issues. Sam Bird, Mercedes reserve driver and Nico Rosberg lookalike, came a very close third in last year’s Formula Renault 3.5 championship and has been excellent in his two GP2 seasons.
Caterham‘s lineup leaves much to be desired, with Sergio Canamasas and Ma Qinghua. Qinghua was a champion in Chinese touring cars, but his single seater ability is untested. As for Canamasas, he shouldn’t be allowed in GP2.
Addax have brought two good drivers for the coming season. Jake Rosenzweig has a good FR 3.5 record, while Rio Haryanto was a GP3 star and should do well in his second GP2 season.
Rapax‘s drivers for 2013 are Monaco native Stefano Coletti, proven in GP2, and Simon Trummer, who still has much to prove.
Trident today announced their pair of French driver Nat Berthon, who got a couple of good podiums last year, and fan favourite Kevin Ceccon. Ceccon has some GP2 experience, and was only in GP3 last year due to lack of budget.
Hilmer still have one driver left to announce, but the first is GP3 superstar Conor Daly. Daly almost left for American racing after struggling for funding, but he will be tipped to win races in his debut season.
Venezuela GP Lazarus have a couple of interesting choices in Austrian Rene Binder, and Italian Kevin Giovesi. Binder has had a few races in GP2, and Giovesi is untested although he did alright in Italian F3 last year.
Finally MP Motorsport have a good pairing. British driver Adrian Quaife-Hobbs dominated Auto GP last year and won, while Daniel de Jong picked up several podiums. De Jong replaced Tom Dillmann in GP2 last year at Rapax, but could not match the French driver’s results.
There are a number of good drivers in this year’s GP2 season. There are also a lot of bad ones. But the good drivers should provide some fantastic racing. Conor Daly, Daniel Abt, Mitch Evans and Adrian Quaife-Hobbs ought to have good rookie seasons. James Calado, Felipe Nasr, Jolyon Palmer, Marcus Ericsson, Sam Bird and Tom Dillmann all ought to win races and challenge for the championship.