There might still be five races to go in the Formula 1 World Championship. But the Italian Grand Prix is the last European race of the season. That means that this weekend sees the climax of the GP2 Series for 2008.
This has been the first year I have watched GP2 races in full and I am a convert. It has been a thrilling season of GP2 action. It is an excellent complement to Formula 1.
If you’ve never seen GP2 before, the format is as follows. There is one race on Saturday called the ‘Feature Race’. Scoring for this race is exactly the same as in F1. On Sunday there is a shorter ‘Sprint Race’. The top six score points as follows: 6-5-4-3-2-1.
Whoever gets pole position for the Feature Race scores two points. Both races offer a point for the fastest lap (although a driver has to meet a number of conditions to qualify for scoring the point — he must start from his allocated grid position, complete 90% of all race laps and finish in the top ten). All in all, this means that a driver has the potential to score 20 points in a weekend.
Pre-season favourite was Renault Development Driver Romain Grosjean who dominated the GP2 Asia Series last winter. However, although Grosjean does still have a (slim) chance of winning the championship, in the end it has come down to a battle between former F1 driver Giorgio Pantano and rising star Bruno Senna. Another Renault Development Driver, Lucas Di Grassi, lies in third place. Di Grassi cannot be underestimated and he has scored this many points despite not even competing in the first three events!
The current standings are as follows:
|1||Giorgio Pantano||Racing Engineering||71|
|2||Bruno Senna||iSport International||60|
|3||Lucas Di Grassi||Campos||53|
Amazingly, the two main contenders have been unable to capitalise on each others’ misfortune and mistakes over the past two events. Unbelievably, both Pantano and Senna ran out of fuel during the Feature Race in Valencia. Senna was also unable to score in the Valencia Sprint Race, although Pantano managed to finish third.
However, Pantano found himself excluded from both races in Belgium after crashing into Di Grassi then overtaking under a Safety Car. Meanwhile, Senna received a drive-through penalty for an unsafe release from a pitstop that was very similar to the one Massa was let off with in the European Grand Prix. The Sprint Race was not much better for Senna as he had to retire after a crash with Sébastien Buemi. As such, Pantano scored nothing and Senna got just two points for his pole position.
Anything can happen in GP2. The drivers are younger and more hot-headed than the F1 drivers, and while it can look a bit amateurish in comparison, there is absolutely no doubt that GP2 provides plenty of action for the viewers.
Since this is the Championship showdown, I have decided to liveblog the GP2 races this weekend as a bit of an experiment. I will be very busy so apologies if it does not quite go to plan! I could do with some help, so if anyone is up for helping me moderate then that would be great.
The feature race starts at 1500 UK time, and ITV4’s coverage starts at around 1430, which is when I plan to start the liveblog. That’s very handy as that is directly after qualifying has finished. So if you find yourself at a loose end after qualifying tomorrow, come back here, switch on the television and join us for the liveblog!