NOVEMBER 18, 2004
Roll up, roll up, the GP2 circus is coming to town
The new GP2 series is not going to have qualifying sessions. The grids being established by the finishing order of the previous race. The starting grid for the first race will be established by a pre-season test to be held at Paul Ricard. The order established will then be used to create the grid for the first race (scheduled to be Magny-Cours on April 15) and the finishing order of that event will determine the positions for a second race, with the top eight places on the grid reversed. This short race will then establish the grid for the following event.
The intention appears to be to try to make the races more open but there are fears that with the cars being identical it will be difficult for there to be any overtaking and the format will mean that an error or an accident will carry such a massive penalty (being dropped to the back of the grid for the second event and thus in all probability being stuck in the midfield and having to start the next race in that position) that drivers will prefer not to the take the risk. In the circumstances the person most likely to win the title is not the fastest driver but rather than man who is careful and finishes in the top six on a regular basis. Last year the series was dominated by Vitantonio Liuzzi but we saw at the Nurburgring that even he was unable to overtake drivers who were obviously not of the same calibre because of the nature of the cars. The new cars for 2005 are more difficult to drive, drivers reporting that they are tail-happy, but this is unlikely to make much difference in terms of overtaking. At the moment is seems that Arden International is against the idea but rivals are happy because they will finally have an answer to Arden's dominance in qualifying in recent years. The system may produce more winners but it is arguable that they will be the people who most deserve to win.
The system is yet to be officially adopted because (amazingly) GP2 still does not have any official regulations because, for some reason, these were not agreed by the FIA at the World Motor Sport Council in October. The rules will now be considered at a meeting in December.
The success of failure of the GP2 series will be whether or not the F1 teams pay any attention to the drivers that win the races - unless of course you are looking it at as a commercial enterprise. It will make money but whether it will have any relevance is another matter.
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