GP2 + A1GP > F1 ?

I watched GP2 on the television today. It’s meant to be the new feeder series for Formula 1. Before GP2 there was Formula 3000, which didn’t exactly churn out Formula 1 World Champions. Most successful Formula 1 drivers seem to come from nowhere these days (like Kimi Räikkönen). Although Fernando Alonso spent a year in Formula 3000 before his first Minardi drive. It was only a year though. Perhaps if you hang around for too long in a series like GP2 then you’ll be too old for Formula 1. Who knows.

GP2 might not have the most talented drivers. There might not be the jaw-dropping speed of Formula 1. But I’ll tell you what there is plenty of — racing. By that I mean wheel-to-wheel argy-bargies and gutsy overtaking.

There seems to be a consensus that this year’s aero regulations are preventing more overtaking in Formula 1. Who am I to say otherwise — I don’t know anything about that. But I would say this: If there were twenty Takuma Satos in those twenty Formula 1 cars, you’d probably have as much overtaking as there is in GP2. Formula 1 is a victim of sporting Darwinism. Conservative racers collect all the points, whilst the likes of Takuma Sato and Jacques Villeneuve are lampooned for their optimistic overtaking manoeuvres.

So is GP2 only more exciting because it’s worse?

Let’s take a look at another new motor racing series — A1 Grand Prix. This will bring to an end the ‘close season’ as it will take place during the winter. It sounds remarkably similar in style to GP2, but with a vital difference. Whilst GP2 is a European series, A1 Grand Prix is calling itself the ‘World Cup of Motorsport’. The entrants aren’t teams, but countries. National pride is at stake.

Formula 1 is struggling along with a rather sparse grid — just ten teams. A1 Grand Prix has twenty-one teams and counting. And A1 Grand Prix is every bit as global as Formula 1.

Most people agree that a 24-car grid would be brilliant. But can anybody see any sign of those two extra teams? Formula 1 needs to cut costs to encourage more teams to participate. And you don’t cut costs by changing the regulations every other year, because all that happens is the teams pour loads of money into grabbing all the speed back.

5 comments

  1. Dear Doctorvee,

    I stumbled on your blog whilst doing a google search
    for some more information on A1 grand prix. Your
    comments on Formula 3000 failing to produce world
    champions & GP2 not having the most talented drivers
    made me laugh. You mentioned that Kimi Räikkönen had
    come from nowhere & that Fernando Alonso had completed
    a season of F3000, Doctorvee, neither of these drivers
    are yet world champions.

    It is not my intention to be condescending, I realise
    that you are 19 years old & that without studying the
    history of F1 drivers through different eras & decades
    it’s easy to become over focused on the present; which
    brings me to my point, you clearly have not looked at
    Formula 3000 in its last 9 seasons, which over laps
    with half of your life, where have you been? What were
    you looking at?

    Let’s examine the list of current F1 drivers
    (race/reserve & test) that have won the F3000
    championship. Montoya, Heidfeld, Zonta & Liuzzi all
    won the title, would you suggest Montoya to be non
    world championship material, have we even seen what
    Heidfeld & Liuzzi might be capable of if they found
    themselves in a competitive car as Räikkönen & Alonso
    have? How did you rate Alonso when he was pedalling
    the Minardi, on paper the results look poor, did he
    suddenly become a good driver when he moved to
    Renault?

    Massa (Euro F3000 champion) who followed Räikkönen
    from what you refer to as “nowhere”, as a formula
    Renault champion, has just been signed by Ferrari to
    partner 7 time world champion Michael Schumacher.
    Incidentally, where did you think Räikkönen came from?
    Similarly, Alonso was the Dallara by Nissan champion,
    a car that is built to Formula 3000 regulations &
    differs from F3000 only in name.

    Which brings me to your statement that GP2 does not
    have the most talented drivers. Frank Williams, a man
    who knows more about F1 world champions than you & I
    ever will, has signed Nico Rosberg a GP2 race winner &
    championship contender to his F1 team, are you
    suggesting that Frank does not look for “the most
    talented drivers” for his F1 operation? He has also
    tested another GP2 driver called Nelson Piquet Jr, F1
    tests cost money, big money & Frank hates wasting a
    penny, he did not test this GP2 driver because he once
    employed his F1 World Champion father Nelson. On a
    similar line, Williams currently employs Mark Webber,
    before joining Williams from Jaguar, where his team
    mate was F3000 champion Justin Wilson, Mark competed
    in F3000. What is Webber capable of if he found
    himself in the same competitive situation that Alonso
    & Raikkonen now enjoy? Should he have never moved up
    the grid from Minardi? if so how does this explain
    Alonso also stepping up from his humble beginnings at
    Minardi & one season of F3000 where he only won one
    race.

    “GP2 does not have the most talented drivers” Alonso
    who you admire, drives for Renault, the important
    testing & development work for his race car is
    performed by Heikki Kovalainen, who currently competes
    in GP2 & appears to be on track to be this seasons
    champion, whilst being groomed to step up to F1
    partnering Alonso. Last year, like Alonso, he was the
    champion in a Renault/Nissan Dallara series that is
    built to F3000 regulations & differs only in name from
    F3000 that you disparage. BAR & Red Bull have just
    signed Adam Carroll & Scott Speed respectively, for
    their driver development programmes, they currently
    competes in GP2. Why do these multi million dollar
    organisations two of whom are constructors recruit
    their future drivers from a series that “does not have
    the most talented drivers?”?

    Doctorvee, the opinion you expressed in your Blog does
    not hold up to a factual analysis, it requires more
    thought, research, objectivity & critically, a study
    of the facts. You need only to open your eyes & look
    at the GP2/F3000 facts that are right under your nose,
    look a little deeper. Before making a statement like
    that, put a little thought into it, your benchmark,
    for World Championship material i.e current
    performance, is fundamentally flawed. How did you rate
    Raikkonen in his second season at McLaren, his results
    weren’t very good, was that him or the car? Seriously,
    where do you get off criticising these two feeder
    series? Do you believe Raikkonen’s employer Ron Dennis
    does not know what he is doing. He set up the F3000
    McLaren F1 junior team, to groom Nick Heidfeld on
    behalf of Mercedes & placed David Brown race engineer
    for Mansell, Prost, Hill & Senna to run it.

    Finally, I would like to thank you; you have inspired
    me to create my own Blog, when its up & running please
    tell me what you think .As I said at the start of this
    letter it is not my intention to be condescending, I
    cant be, at 18 I’m younger than you. However, that is
    no excuse for setting up a Blog & going out to the
    world on the web without at least being well read on
    your chosen subject, you run the risk of being written
    off as one of those political ravers that fire off
    letters to the editors of major newspapers.

    P Gillespie

  2. Doctorvee, you have done it again, the paragraph below from your statement on GP2 againt A1 GP is fundamentally flawed.

    Let’s take a look at another new motor racing series — A1 Grand Prix. This will bring to an end the ‘close season’ as it will take place during the winter. It sounds remarkably similar in style to GP2, but with a vital difference. Whilst GP2 is a European series, A1 Grand Prix is calling itself the ‘World Cup of Motorsport’. The entrants aren’t teams, but countries. National pride is at stake.

    Doctorvee, whilst the founders of A1GP should be saluted for their vision & the Lola/Zetek will be a cracker, you have completly missed the point & contradicted yourself in the same comment on your Blog.GP2 + A1 > F1?

    You maintain that GP2 driver do not have much in the way of talent & then propose that A1 GP is similar but will be better because the entrants are not teams but from countries & that national pride is at stake.

    How do you propose that “national pride” is going to make the entries of Pakistan, India, Turkey & Lebanon etc go quickly? The drivers are drawn from those same countries. A1 GP runs the risk of having a few talented front runners lapping & tripping over talentless backmarkers who are the priviliged sons of that nation elite.

    You must put more thought & a study of the facts into your comments. Why is international exposure & nationality based teams “the vital difference”? if the European series is so poor why are A1 GP teams recruiting GP2 & F3000 teams to run their cars. Arden,Supa Nova,DAMS etc.Where’s the national pride in that?

    Doctorvee PLEASE!!!

    Peter Gillespie

  3. Hello Mr Gillespie, and thank you for commenting. Please do let me know when you start your blog. 🙂

    Firstly, in response to your comments, I have to say that I never expected this post to be taken so seriously! Nevertheless, it is good to have a debate about this sort of thing.

    I’m quite surprised that you have chosen to take me to task on my comment that GP2 doesn’t have the most talented of drivers. I really don’t see the controversy. I mean, these drivers are mostly still quite young and still have a lot to learn. I think many of the drivers have a lot of potential. Kovalainen must be good, Rosberg looks impressive, and Speed is turning heads. I think it would be an injustice if these drivers were to be overlooked, but I don’t think it’s unfair to say that they are not yet up to Formula 1 standard. I would say that it’s just a matter of time though…

    As for Montoya, I would actually say that Montoya has a slim chance of ever winning the Formula 1 World Championship. It’s a view I have expressed a number of times. No doubt if you did a search you could find my reasons for saying this. 🙂

    Heidfeld, Zonta and Liuzzi have varying levels of talent. Although I think Heidfeld is a good driver and that Zonta has been overlooked (with Liuzzi, in my opinion, it is too early to tell), I don’t think either of these drivers are Championship-winning material either.

    I did, incidentally, always rate Alonso, even when he was in a Minardi. It is notoriously difficult to stand out in a Minardi, but Alonso was noted for being the youngest ever F1 driver, and he never made any silly mistakes (that I can remember at least).

    The only reason Massa has managed to get a Ferrari drive is that all the good drivers are either under contract, or do not want to play second fiddle to Michael Schumacher — quite reasonably.

    I think (rather, I know) that Räikkönen came from Formula Renault. I’m not sure what the point you’re making here is though.

    With your next paragraph regarding Nico Rosberg you kind of make my point for me. If Rosberg was the “most talented” of drivers, why hasn’t Frank Williams given him a race yet? It’s because he is not yet up to that standard, and he needs some testing experience and time for his abilities to be honed before he can race in Formula 1. Most drivers need this. It shouldn’t be a criticism of Rosberg.

    I think Webber is talented, but once again not Championship winning material. I’d rate him at about the same level as Rubens Barrichello. I’d be surprised if Webber ever became F1 champion. Wilson, meanwhile, never managed to break into F1. Maybe he was unlucky and deserved a second chance, but he never did anything notable as far as I’m concerned.

    As you say, you need factual analysis. Here is my factual analysis. I list below all of the Formula 1 World Champions from the period since F3000 began.

    Alain Prost: did not compete in F3000 (came straight from F3)
    Nelson Piquet: did not compete in F3000 (came straight from F3)
    Ayrton Senna: did not compete in F3000 (came straight from F3)
    Nigel Mansell: did not compete in F3000 (came straight from F3)
    Michael Schumacher: did not compete in F3000 (came from sportscars)
    Damon Hill: competed in F3000 with little success
    Jacques Villeneuve: did not compete in F3000 (came from IndyCars)
    Mika Häkkinen: did not compete in F3000 (came straight from F3)

    So in its entire history, F3000 produced one Formula 1 World Champion, and that was Damon Hill who didn’t impress in F3000 anyway. The vast majority of F1 World Champions skipped F3000 and came straight from F3. That was the point of my post.

    So please don’t again suggest that I am not well-read, and that I do not apply factual analysis, because the facts back my statements up one hundred percent.

    As for A1GP, I never suggested that the drivers will go quickly because national pride is at stake. My comments on GP2 and A1GP were meant to be taken entirely separately from each other, so I think you have been confused. My point was that A1GP would appeal to the public because of national pride. I have made no comments on drivers, cars, or anything about the racing in A1GP because there has been no racing, and it is too early to tell. However, I do think that A1GP is a good idea and it will be interesting to see what role it can play in motorsport as a whole.

  4. Doctorvee,

    Thank you for your reply & to be fair I was a little harsh, on a separate subject, having never set up a Blog, any tips or advice that I might benefit from?

    In regard to your F3000/GP2 stance I believe that you & I will have to either meet in the middle or agree to disagree. We seem to agree that F3000 or GP2(a more powerful version) is to fill the role a feeder category for F1.It just goes to show that it is possible to have two different views on history, it was this use of “history” that motivated my comments about factual analysis

    Firstly, the F3000 you refer to in your GP2 + A1>F1 is the post 1996 “one make” series, which differs fundamentally from the 1986-1995 open category that had multiple chassis constructor & engine manufacturers competing. It was anything but a level playing field, which is why I feel broad looks at F3000 history & its championship winners & not distinguishing between eras is vital.Can you believe Ricardo Rossett nearly won the championship in 95 & Gregor Foitek was another “front runner” whose contribution was to literally threaten the life & limb of Johnny Herbet, neither were F1 material but that did not stop them stepping up to that category. It would be childish of me to point out that the champions you listed below did not compete in F3000 because it would have been impossible as it did not exist pre 86 & was in fact called F2.However, as it was not a one make series like post 96 F3000 & GP2 I think its unfair to use this history as factual analysis, I believe it requires a deeper view, also taking into account that that the step from F3 to F1 in the days of Prost,Piquet,Senna & Mansell is not even remotely close to the huge leap of going from a F3 to F1 today.

    Alain Prost: did not compete in F3000 (came straight from F3)
    Nelson Piquet: did not compete in F3000 (came straight from F3)
    Ayrton Senna: did not compete in F3000 (came straight from F3)
    Nigel Mansell: did not compete in F3000 (came straight from F3)

    You make an interesting point that Hill competed in F3000 with little success, yet is the only driver from that category to become a F1 world champion. Once again this requires deeper examination, on paper Hills results looks poor, Frank Williams saw his performance in uncompetitive machinery in a different light & recognised the talent beneath, hence his Williams employment. Hill is not the only driver of that generation of non level playing field F3000 to compete with little success but go on to success at higher level. Irvine & Frentzen spring to mind, poor on paper F3000 results in Europe & yet both leveraged their obvious talent in uncompetitive machinery to highly lucrative jobs in F3000 Japan, before stepping up to F1.Ultimately, both found themselves in championship winning cars & failed to convert it to F1 glory, Frentzen even more so given the equal status mentality at Williams. You could argue equal status at Ferrari for Irvine would still have seen Schumacher on top.

    As a further example of the futility of relying on results in non one make categories & using that history as factual analysis, examine the total absence of British F3 champions over the last seasons, either totally failing to make it to F1 or failing when they got there. Pizzonia, another one of “gods gifts” from non one make F3 was completely shown up when he moved in to the post ‘96 one make F3000 series, competing for a couple of seasons with woeful results & even more woeful excuses, he even got to step up to F1 with Williams & Jaguar.

    By contrast, Montoya’s record in F3 was poor (on paper), historical fact, once again it requires factual analysis not just a look at history; his lack results had more to do with HKS Mitsubishi power plants than his obvious talent. This illustrates my argument well; re the value a one make F3000 or a GP2, when Montoya was unleashed in modern F3000 he nearly won the title in only his first season, he then went on to dominate it the following year. I could go on for ever about historical results in multi constructor/engine F3 & F3000.The German F3 title was won by Noberto Fontana, look what happened to him when he had to race in modern F3000, zero results on an even playing field. Imagine if he had gone to F1 straight from F3.

    On the subject of modern era F3000 champions it is a travesty that Bourdais, Wirdehiem & Junqueira never got to race F1 in even an uncompetitive car, Wilson as you mentioned probably deserved a second chance. I figure if you can pull off a championship in modern F3000 or GP2 your worth a try, my opinion is commercially naïve I accept. Conversely, a F3000 championship did no good for Zonta or explains how the raw speed that he displayed in F3000 & that apparently is still raved about at Jordan from his early testing days there, could be destroyed along with his confidence at the Villenueve/Pollock era BAR. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, Junqueira’s champ car results don’t add up to potential F1 glory had he been given the opportunity, but at least he would have earned the chance not purchased it. Bourdais on the other hand, it would have been interesting to watch but will probably never happen now, so we will never know.

    As so often happens, life & history are not as simple as they appear & require factual analysis. My argument that one make F3000/GP2 are the most important categories & should not be overlooked as “not having the most talented drivers” there is a major difference that I think you have missed & yet seemed touch upon in your reply, i.e experience. Well of course GP2 drivers lack experience & are not up to F1 standard, that’s why they are there.

    Raikkonen, “who came from nowhere” is a historical anomaly, a talented & yet totally inexperienced tyro with nothing but a Formula Renault Championship on his resume. Peter Sauber took an amazing risk in throwing him to the deep end of F1 & it paid off, well more for Kimi than Peter. This is not a typical example of the road to F1 & it could have ended in tears, his career could have been over before it even started. The light shines very brightly on the F1 stage & the demand for results is ever present, trying to master a F1 car your rookie season is a hard enough task even when you have the experience & race craft developed in the lower categories. Raikkonen’s defying of convention only underlines his amazing talent, I seriously doubt we will see another such fast track to the top by a driver in the near future; he is one of those once in a generation freaks that Darwinism throws forth occasionally. On that line, damn Peter Sauber for robbing us of watching Kimi hustle a F3 or F3000 car as he surely would have.

    In conclusion, although I may have misinterpreted your sentiment, I maintain that all not as it often appears & a deeper look is required not just a list of historical data.

    Oh, your suggestion of a GP2 field full of Sato types, where & when? You will find me in the pound seats goggle eyed.

    Regards,

    Peter Gillespie

  5. I personally would love to see drivers like Kovalainen and Rosberg make it to Formula 1. And I would agree that Raikkonen is a bit of an anomaly…

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