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.