The place are they now? The 12 totally different champions of the defunct GP2 sequence : PlanetF1

The System 2 sequence has turn out to be a longtime proving floor for F1. Beforehand generally known as GP2, the sequence has given lots of immediately’s drivers their huge headstart…

System 2 has devised as a selected feeder class for F1 again in 2005, though it was initially christened ‘GP2’ till its rebranding for the 2017 season.

Wanting again over the checklist of the champions of the sequence, there are some very outstanding names – in addition to others who’ve light from reminiscence.

Let’s look by way of the names and uncover what every GP2 Champion is as much as these days.

Nico Rosberg (2005)

Racing for ART, Nico Rosberg grew to become the inaugural GP2 Champion in 2005 as he scored 5 wins and 4 podiums en path to the title.

He was rewarded for his efforts with an F1 drive at Williams, helped by the marketability of the Rosberg identify together with his father Keke profitable the F1 championship with Williams in 1982.

He made an on the spot impression, scoring the quickest lap and two factors for seventh place in his very first race. Nevertheless, 2006 proved to be a tricky 12 months for him and Williams – one other seventh place on the Nurburgring being his solely different factors end.

Rosberg made a fame for himself over the next three years, with a greatest championship consequence coming in 2009 as he scored factors in 11 of the 17 races.

He landed a seat alongside the returning Michael Schumacher at Mercedes for 2010, and proved to have the measure of the seven-time World Champion over the next three seasons as Schumacher’s powers had waned throughout his years away.

The dynamic was to vary for 2013, with Lewis Hamilton coming onboard as his teammate after Schumacher’s ultimate retirement, as the previous childhood associates shortly found racing alongside one another on the identical staff led to tensions rising.

Mercedes grew to become the dominant staff in F1 in 2014, with Rosberg and Hamilton battling one another relentlessly – resulting in a number of on-track clashes. Hamilton would win the titles in 2014 and 2015, with Rosberg profitable it in 2016 after a very bitter title combat. Two days after clinching the title in Abu Dhabi, Rosberg promptly retired from F1 and has by no means proven a want to return to the game.

Lately, Rosberg plies his commerce as a broadcaster (recurrently showing on Sky F1 as a pundit), and has invested in a number of start-up firms within the areas of sustainability, e-mobility and expertise, and is a shareholder in System E.

He is also the brains behind the Greentech Pageant commerce honest, and established the Rosberg x Rosberg Excessive E Crew.

Lewis Hamilton (2006)

Additionally racing for ART, Hamilton adopted within the footsteps of Rosberg as he claimed the GP2 title in his first 12 months within the sequence. Whereas Hamilton might solely handle one pole place that 12 months, he additionally achieved 4 victories as he beat Nelson Piquet Junior by 12 factors total.

The retirement of Michael Schumacher at Ferrari in 2006 had knock-on results for Hamilton, as McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen moved to the Scuderia to interchange him. Following the mid-season departure of Juan Pablo Montoya, it left McLaren with the choice of operating junior driver Hamilton or skilled tester Pedro de la Rosa alongside Fernando Alonso for 2007.

McLaren, beneath Ron Dennis, would choose on taking a danger on Hamilton, with the British driver instantly proving aggressive as he raced to a podium end first trip in Australia. He would end on the rostrum at each race till the tenth spherical of the season, together with taking his maiden win on the Canadian GP.

Inner battle at McLaren meant that neither Hamilton or Alonso would beat Raikkonen to the title, however the departure of Alonso on the finish of a fraught 2007 meant Hamilton assumed the defacto staff management position in 2008. Going up in opposition to Ferrari as soon as once more, Hamilton would get the higher of Felipe Massa and gained his maiden title within the dramatic Brazilian Grand Prix.

In 2009, McLaren failed to reply nicely to the dramatic rule modifications and, whereas the staff would win races yearly till 2012, Hamilton was by no means fairly capable of maintain a title problem in opposition to Purple Bull and Ferrari.

After a 12 months of disappointment in 2012, Hamilton jumped ship to Mercedes alongside Rosberg and shortly discovered his ft. Profitable the intra-Mercedes combat in 2014 and ’15, his defeat to Rosberg in 2016 was merely a blip in a juggernaut of titles as Hamilton was paired up with a extra subservient Valtteri Bottas from 2017 onwards.

It took till 2021 for Hamilton to be toppled once more, with Purple Bull’s Max Verstappen ending the streak. Hamilton continues to race for Mercedes, and can accomplish that once more in 2023.

Timo Glock (2007)

The German driver grew to become the 2007 GP2 Champion, the primary to take action having already raced in System 1.

Having served as a check driver for Jordan in 2004, Glock stood in for Giorgio Pantano on the Canadian Grand Prix – scoring seventh place after a number of vehicles have been disqualified for technical infringements.

However, as a result of what he referred to as ‘political video games’, Glock was ignored for a seat in 2005 because the staff modified palms. With no affiliation to a different staff, Glock was pressured to take a step backward to be able to attempt to regain momentum in his motorsport profession.

Transferring to america to race in Champcar, Glock would end in second after an excellent battle with Oriol Servia in Montreal, however opted to return to Europe to compete within the 2006 GP2 Championship. Beginning off with BCN Competicion, a transfer to iSport halfway by way of the 12 months noticed him meet with rapid stronger outcomes.

That momentum carried on into 2007, the place Glock gained the title with 5 victories and an 11-point lead over future F1 teammate Lucas Di Grassi.

Glock was signed up by Toyota to affix their F1 squad for 2008, changing Ralf Schumacher, though needed to undergo the method of the FIA’s Contract Recognition Board to take action having already signed a testing contract with BMW.

Racing with Toyota led to principally midfield mediocrity, though some eye-catching drives included a podium on the 2008 Hungarian Grand Prix, in addition to two fourth-places.

Glock would end in second place in his ultimate race with Toyota, Singapore 2009, earlier than a crash in qualifying at Suzuka resulted in him being changed by Kamui Kobayashi for the Brazilian Grand Prix – Glock having suffered a cracked vertebra.

Toyota withdrew from F1 on the finish of 2009, with Glock having to scramble to discover a seat elsewhere. New entrants Manor, racing as Virgin, signed him for 2010, however there was little success for the financially tiny staff.

Glock would by no means rating an F1 level once more, together with his greatest consequence being a twentieth of 26 place end within the Drivers’ Championship in 2012. Whereas he had a contract with the staff for 2013, then referred to as Marussia, he and the staff break up methods earlier than the season began – Glock transferring to the DTM as an alternative.

Between 2013 and 2020, Glock grew to become a veteran of the sequence as he raced for BMW. His first win got here at Hockenheim in 2013, together with his greatest championship consequence being fifth within the 2018 sequence.

Glock’s 2022 racing schedule has seen him take part in some DTM rounds, with Ceccato Motors, in addition to teaming up with Felipe Massa for a Inventory Automobile Brasil race earlier this 12 months.

Timo Glock racing in DTM. Hockenheim October 2021.
Former System 1 driver Timo Glock prepares for a race in DTM. Hockenheim October 2021.

Giorgio Pantano (2008)

Like Glock, Pantano raced in GP2 after making his F1 debut. Driving for Jordan in 2004, Pantano was with out a drive for 2005 and switched to GP2 to race with SuperNova.

A troublesome first half of the season yielded no outcomes, however he got here alive within the second half with a number of podiums as he scored 49 factors throughout 12 races.

Pantano additionally took half in two IndyCar races with Chip Ganassi, however couldn’t safe a full-time drive – he additionally carried out some testing in Champcar.

For 2006, Pantano moved to FMS in GP2 and completed in fifth place total, together with a victory on the Magny-Cours spherical. For 2007, racing for Adrian Campos’ eponymous staff, his championship consequence improved to 3rd with two victories.

2008 was the excessive level of his time within the sequence, profitable the title outright for Racing Engineering with 4 victories in the course of the season. Nevertheless, his success meant he couldn’t stay within the sequence and, for 2009, Pantano needed to look elsewhere.

He joined the short-lived Superleague sequence that 12 months, profitable once more at Magny-Cours. Since then, Pantano’s profession behind the wheel has been piecemeal – with occasional IndyCar outings in 2011 and ’12. Racing absolutely within the 2014 Blancpain Dash Sequence, en path to 14th total, Pantano’s racing profession since then has dried up.

Nico Hulkenberg (2009)

The German driver entered GP2 from System 3 Euro Sequence, remaining with ART for the change of championship. Hulkenberg proved unstoppable throughout his season in GP2, profitable 5 races and wrapping up the title with two races remaining.

Hulkenberg replicated the profession development of Rosberg by instantly signing up with Williams for 2010 and had an affordable season with seven factors finishes. Claiming his maiden pole place in Brazil, a collision in the course of the race meant he solely completed in eighth place and, regardless of a stable 12 months, he was ignored for a seat for 2011.

As an alternative, Hulkenberg switched to Pressure India as a check driver however secured a return to the grid for 2012 with the identical staff.

Hulkenberg grew to become a well known midfield runner over the following eight years, driving for Pressure India, Sauber, and the Renault groups – by no means managing to safe a podium end in that point.

Apart from F1, Hulkenberg gained the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2015 alongside Porsche teammates Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy.

His final full-time drive was with Renault in 2019, though he has appeared in its place driver at Racing Level/Aston Martin in each the 2020 and 2022 seasons – his most up-to-date look being on the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as a stand-in for Sebastian Vettel.

Hulkenberg additionally seems as an everyday pundit for Germany’s F1 protection, and has been linked with a attainable F1 return with Haas in 2023.

Nico Hulkenberg talking to an engineer at the Saudi Arabian GP. Jeddah March 2022.
Nico Hulkenberg speaking to an engineer on the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Jeddah March 2022.

Pastor Maldonado (2010)

Venezuelan racer Pastor Maldonado had a protracted profession in GP2, having first entered the sequence in 2007 with Trident Racing. Profitable his first race in Monaco that 12 months, Maldonado picked up a fame for being quick however erratic – a fame he carried with him all through his complete top-level motorsport profession.

Profitable the Spa dash race in 2008 was the spotlight of his second season in GP2, having switched to Piquet Sports activities, whereas a transfer to the aggressive ART squad for 2009 noticed him transfer as much as sixth total with two victories.

His 2010 season with Rapax lastly noticed Maldonado come good, as he gained six races en path to the title. Between that, and his large monetary backing by way of Venezuelan oil firm PDVSA, Williams opted to signal Maldonado instead of Hulkenberg for 2011.

Maldonado’s error-prone fame continued to hold over him, with the Venezuelan managing simply two factors finishes earlier than he claimed an astonishing victory on the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix – Maldonado not placing a wheel flawed throughout race-long strain being utilized by Fernando Alonso.

Regardless of the victory, Maldonado couldn’t get close to replicating the consequence once more and he completed fifteenth total that season – he would handle only a single level in 2013.

A transfer to Lotus for 2014 didn’t meet with a lot success both, though he doubled his factors whole (to 2 factors!). His ultimate season, in 2015, netted him 27 factors by way of six factors finishes.

With no race drive for 2017, Maldonado grew to become a check driver for Pirelli, earlier than switching to the World Endurance Championship in 2018. Racing with Dragonspeed within the LMP2 class, Maldonado gained the Daytona 24 Hours alongside his Dragonspeed teammates in 2019.

Nevertheless, Maldonado’s driving choices seem to have dried up since, with no top-level motorsport appearances since 2019.

Romain Grosjean (2011)

Transferring as much as GP2 from Formule 3 in 2008, Grosjean made an on the spot impression by profitable his fourth race and coming residence fourth total.

Persevering with that momentum into 2009, driving for Campos & Addax, Grosjean obtained the decision as much as the Renault F1 staff to interchange Nelson Piquet Junior because the true story behind the controversial 2008 Singapore Grand Prix emerged.

Nevertheless, Grosjean was forged apart by Renault on the conclusion of 2009, with former Addax teammate Vitaly Petrov being signed up as an alternative.

This meant Grosjean needed to go scrambling for a drive, discovering one in GT1 and in addition with DAMS within the Auto GP sequence. Linking up with DAMS proved important, as he returned to GP2 in 2011 with DAMS and put in a dominant season – profitable 5 races to win the title by 35 factors.

Grosjean thus obtained the nod to return to F1, returning again to the Renault staff (now referred to as Lotus), as he teamed up with Kimi Raikkonen.

Grosjean had a troubled begin to his F1 profession, proving himself able to immense drives to podium finishes, in addition to getting caught up in frequent accidents that led Mark Webber to model him a ‘first lap nutcase’. Triggering an enormous first nook crash at Spa, Grosjean grew to become the one driver in latest historical past to choose up a race ban as a result of his driving requirements.

The ban appeared to assist calm Grosjean, who put in a sterling 2013 season to way more carefully match the performances of an more and more disinterested Raikkonen. A relentless podium finisher within the ultimate races, Grosjean completed seventh total – the very best level of his F1 profession.

Two years of battle have been to comply with in 2014 and 2015 as Lotus fell off the boil, however Grosjean was supplied a brand new lifeline because the American staff Haas entered the fray. Grosjean grew to become one of many heroes of the midfield between 2016 and 2020, often pumping in eye-catching drives to excessive factors locations.

Nevertheless, with Haas needing a monetary injection for 2021, Grosjean was dropped because the staff changed each of their drivers for rookies. Grosjean’s profession in F1 got here to an finish a race early, as a result of a terrifying fireball crash on the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix, that resulted in him selecting up burn accidents to his palms.

With no F1 drive for 2021, Grosjean converted to IndyCar and picked up three podiums in what was a part-time programme. For 2022, becoming a member of frontrunners Andretti Autosport, Grosjean now competes fulltime within the American sequence.

Nico Hulkenberg Romain Grosjean
Nico Hulkenberg with Romain Grosjean

Davide Valsecchi (2012)

The excitable Italian raced in GP2 between 2008 and 2012, with outfits like Durango, Addax, iSport, and Caterham. Nevertheless, regardless of a win in yearly other than 2009, it wasn’t till 2012 that Valsecchi actually got here to life – profitable 4 races en path to the title.

Collaborating within the Younger Driver Check in Abu Dhabi with HRT on the finish of the 2010 season, and having taken half in follow for the 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix with Caterham, Valsecchi signed up as a check driver for the Lotus staff for 2013.

With Kimi Raikkonen sitting out the ultimate races of the 12 months, Valsecchi was hopeful of getting the nod to interchange him. However, with the staff fearful about their standing within the Constructors’ Championship, skilled Finn Heikki Kovalainen was given the cockpit – not that it made a lot distinction, as he failed to attain any factors both.

Apart from a handful of races in Blancpain in 2016, Valsecchi hasn’t raced in top-level motorsport since – he grew to become a broadcaster by becoming a member of Sky Italia in 2016 and hasn’t seemed again in that profession path ever since.

Fabio Leimer (2013)

Leimer gained the FP2 championship on the fourth time of asking, as he drove for Racing Engineering. With three wins and common podiums, his 201 factors tally was sufficient to beat Sam Hen by 20 factors by season finish.

Nevertheless, whereas Hen has gone on to have a profitable motorsport profession, Leimer’s profession virtually instantly collapsed following his title win.

Becoming a member of Revolt Racing within the WEC for 2014, the primary half of the championship went with out a single level for him and his teammates, though the second half of the 12 months netted him a complete of 19 factors and seventeenth total.

Leimer was all set for a transfer to Japan’s Tremendous System for 2015, however monetary issues meant his contract with Mugen was terminated earlier than the season started.

He was signed as Manor’s reserve driver for 2015, collaborating in FP1 on the Hungarian Grand Prix, in addition to racing for Virgin for 2 races within the System E championship.

Leimer’s most up-to-date outstanding race was at Mugello in 2017, when he gained a Trofeo Pirelli Professional spherical driving a Ferrari 488.

Jolyon Palmer (2014)

The British driver, son of F1 racer Jonathan Palmer, gained the GP2 title in 2014 whereas driving for DAMS.

Profitable 4 races and taking three pole positions, he beat Stoffel Vandoorne by 47 factors.

Whereas he examined with Pressure India on the finish of that season, he signed up with Lotus for 2015 – changing into a check and reserve driver behind full timers Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado.

When Renault took over the staff throughout that 12 months, Palmer was given the enhance of being promoted to a race driver for 2016 as he’d line up alongside Kevin Magnussen.

It wasn’t 12 months for both driver, though Palmer didn’t fare fairly in addition to Magnussen – the Dane managing to attain seven factors versus Palmer’s solitary level for tenth at Sepang.

The sample continued into 2017, with Magnussen scoring 19 factors throughout 5 finishes, whereas Palmer managed only one factors end with sixth in Singapore.

Whereas consequence, it was too little to save lots of Palmer’s profession, and he was proven the door for 2018. Becoming a member of the BBC as a pundit, Palmer has left his racing profession behind as his media profession has taken off – he’s now an everyday contributor to the official F1 web site in addition to his BBC duties.

Stoffel Vandoorne (2015)

Racing for ART, Belgian racer Stoffel Vandoorne turned in one of the dominant GP2 campaigns ever seen as he romped to seven victories in 2015. This gave him a 160 level lead within the sequence, profitable outright with 4 races nonetheless remaining.

Turning to Tremendous System for 2016, Vandoorne obtained his first style of F1 when he stood in for Fernando Alonso on the season opener in Bahrain – taking residence some extent on his debut. He additionally completed fourth total within the Japanese championship.

Jenson Button’s retirement on the finish of 2016 gave Vandoorne a shot at a fulltime drive in F1, teaming up with Alonso. Nevertheless, whereas placing in two fairly respectable seasons alongside the veteran World Champion, Vandoorne’s incapacity to match the heroics of Alonso noticed him out on his ear on the finish of 2018.

Vandoorne joined Mercedes placeholder staff HWA Racelab in System E virtually instantly, ending sixteenth total in his first season, earlier than changing into a Mercedes works driver upon their full entry in 2019.

A victory in Berlin helped Vandoorne to second within the standings, earlier than slipping to ninth total within the 2020/21 season. Nevertheless, Vandoorne just lately returned to being a championship winner, as he was topped the 2021/22 System E World Champion.

He’s set to race for DS Penske within the subsequent season of System E.

Away from the all-electric championship, Vandoorne additionally raced with Jota Sport in LMP2 on the Le Mans 24 Hours, ending second at school in 2021, following up on ending third in LMP1 with SMP Racing in 2019.

Pierre Gasly (2016)

The Purple Bull junior drove for Prema in GP2 in 2016, pipping Antonio Giovinazzi to the title by simply eight factors. 2016 had been Gasly’s third 12 months within the class, having made his debut with Caterham in 2014 and racing with DAMS in 2015.

Switching to Tremendous System in 2017, Gasly put a really spectacular marketing campaign to complete second total – lacking out on the title by simply half some extent, his failure to attain in his first two races an early hurdle to get better from.

Gasly additionally had the prospect to impress in System E throughout a stand-in efficiency with Renault e.Dams, as he completed seventh in his first race, earlier than a near-podium end within the second – a final nook mistake which means he completed in fourth.

Such successes have been sufficient to persuade Purple Bull to present him an F1 alternative, and Gasly made his debut as a substitute for Daniil Kvyat at Toro Rosso in the direction of the tip of 2017.

Scoring 5 factors finishes with Toro Rosso throughout 2018, with 29 factors total, Gasly was moved as much as Purple Bull as a substitute for the departing Daniel Ricciardo, partnering Max Verstappen.

Nevertheless, Gasly struggled for tempo and got here beneath growing strain to ship because the season wore on. Along with his confidence noticeably battered, Purple Bull dropped him again to Toro Rosso, the place he has raced ever since, though the staff at the moment are referred to as AlphaTauri.

Changing into a race winner in 2020 as he took the Italian Grand Prix victory, Gasly’s star has ascended noticeably as a key performer within the midfield – he’s at present signed to stay with the staff for 2023, though rumours have recommended he could possibly be set for a change to Alpine.

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