In photos: Farewell to the GP2/11 package
22 November 2017 – Formula 2 will bid farewell to the GP2/11 car this weekend in Abu Dhabi, the package which has been used by Formula 1's feeder series for seven years. The car, undoubtedly, has provided some wild moments, with action almost guaranteed. GPUpdate.net reflects on some of the most dramatic races, whether created by fantastic wheel-to-wheel action, stunning individual performances, or incident-filled craziness. The GP2/11 has had it all – and some moments had to be omitted – but here are our top 10, in chronological order.
Silverstone 2011 (Feature)
On a damp but drying Silverstone circuit, Lotus' Jules Bianchi and Racing Engineering rival Christian Vietoris contested the lead in thrilling fashion. Vietoris swarmed all over Bianchi mid-distance, after the pair switched to slicks, and used superior traction to grab the advantage exiting Woodcote. However, Bianchi fought back, muscling his way past into Copse, but Vietoris countered, seizing the outside line through Stowe to move in front once more. Bianchi, though, immediately responded, and thrusted his twitching car on the inside into the final complex, saved a dab of oversteer, and consequently emerged with the inside line for the right-hander as they concluded a thrilling lap. Bianchi went on to win, which proved to be his sole triumph in the category.
Valencia 2012 (Sprint)
The Valencia Street Circuit may have proved a damp squib in Formula 1, but in GP2 is typically provided thrills, none more so than in 2012. James Calado led the Sprint, but with four laps to go was challenged by Rio Haryanto into Turn 12, though the latter misjudged his move, and sustained terminal damage. Calado's pace slowed, and his defended resolutely turn by turn to fend off Fabio Leimer, who had Max Chilton, Giedo van der Garde and Luiz Razia for company. Into Turn 12 on the last lap Leimer challenged Calado, only for both to run wide; Leimer gave the place back, but as he did Razia, who had surged up to third, went around the outside of both at Turn 17. It was opportunistic, and utterly brilliant, capping an enthralling battle with a fitting finale.
Hockenheim 2014 (Feature – and Sprint)
GP2 celebrated its 200th race at a baking-hot Hockenheim Feature Race in 2014, as diverging tyre strategies played out to create an enthralling race-long encounter. Mitch Evans started from 15th after a reliability setback in qualifying, but worked his way up to seventh on a Prime / Option approach, as leaders Stoffel Vandoorne and Jolyon Palmer ran Option / Prime. Evans emerged in front when Vandoorne and Palmer stopped and defended to hold onto the lead, as battles raged up and down the field. The Sprint Race provided another thriller, as mixed conditions prompted a bizarre start – with some on Wet tyres and others on slicks – as Stefano Coletti stayed patient and surged through to victory, having tumbled rearwards off the line after starting on slicks.
Budapest 2014 (Feature - and Sprint)
Palmer and Felipe Nasr didn't much like each other, and barely hid their disdain in public. Palmer and Nasr battled for honours at the Hungaroring, and ran wheel-to-wheel through the first sequence of corners, with the Briton almost overhauling his arch rival. Having led, their strategies ultimately brought them back in the pack, where they continued their scrap, Palmer emerging ahead, but Nasr sweeping by on warmer tyres. Palmer soon dispatched with Nasr through Turn 2/3, but the Brazilian responded, muscling through into the chicane. Palmer fought back with an aggressive move into Turn 1, sending Nasr wide, as they came home fifth and seventh respectively. There was a near-repeat of their battle in the Sprint Race, as they placed second and third to Vandoorne, with an irritated Nasr criticising Palmer before and during the podium ceremony, as the Briton laughed off criticism. Palmer went on to win the title, as both went on to race in Formula 1.
Spa-Francorchamps 2014 (Feature)
McLaren and Ferrari both placed their junior drivers in GP2 for 2014 but while Vandoorne thrived, then-F3 champion Raffaele Marciello had a more difficult campaign. However, at a rain-soaked Spa-Francorchamps, both were utterly magnificent. After a red-flag period, due to the atrocious conditions, Vandoorne led away from pole on home soil, as Marciello soon worked his way through to second, as the duo traded lap times, cruising clear of their opponents. Marciello closed up to Vandoorne during the final stages and with a handful of laps remaining made the move for the lead through Rivage, leaving the ART driver unable to counter. Marciello went on to win, with Vandoorne second, as the youngsters finished over half a minute clear of their opponents.
Sochi 2015 (Feature)
A chaotic first-lap at Sochi Autodrom left several racers in the barriers, with Artem Markelov triggering a multi-car pile-up after unsafely re-joining at the haphazardly-designed Turn 2, while Jordan King speared near head-on into the Turn 3 wall. The time taken to repair the barriers, allied to fading light, reduced the race from 28 to 15 laps. Alex Lynn dominated, as Alexander Rossi, Pierre Gasly and Stoffel Vandoorne scrapped either side of a narrowed pit stop window. Lynn's race unravelled when he agonisingly skated into the wall, and retirement, at Turn 13, clearing the path to victory for Rossi, as he eventually gapped Gasly and Vandoorne. GP2 did not return to Russia in 2016, but Formula 2 will compete at Sochi next season as part of an expanded calendar.
Baku 2016 (Feature and Sprint)
Formula 1's first visit to Baku was a relatively sedate affair. GP2's was most certainly not. A high-rate of attrition, and the layout of the circuit, culminated in a frantic finish to the Feature Race, with Antonio Giovinazzi hanging on, via a wide moment at Turn 1, as the four leaders almost came together as they battled into Turn 2. If the Feature Race was mad, the Sprint was even more frenetic. ART's Nobuharu Matsushita mastered one restart, but he was infamously culpable for the hair-raising second restart, in which his antics along the pit straight, accelerating before backing off, caused bedlam. As several drivers approached the scene at various speeds, some profited, others dropped back, while a couple made contact, before a full-on collision occurred at Turn 1. Prema pair Giovinazzi and Gasly eventually worked their way through from the rear to contest victory, with the former capturing the lead on the final lap.
Austria 2016 (Feature)
The fickle nature of mountain weather played a crucial factor in this race, as different intensity of rain affected different parts of the circuit, despite the relatively short nature of the track. The top section of the circuit was drenched, but the remained dry, leaving drivers to grapple for grip on slick tyres. Gasly wrestled the lead from Giovinazzi but was caught out by the slippery conditions and spun into the gravel, while at the restart Giovinazzi came under pressure from Marciello, as everyone searched for traction in the damp. Aided by running the alternative strategy, Campos duo Mitch Evans and Sean Gelael worked their way to the front when their rivals stopped and picked up an unlikely 1-2, with the race briefly halted when Artem Markelov smacked his Russian Time-run machine into the pit exit barrier.
Bahrain 2017 (Sprint)
Ferrari-backed Charles Leclerc signalled his intention to steal the show at each Formula 2 event this year courtesy of his display in the Sprint Race in Bahrain. Leclerc gapped his rivals, opened a 10-second lead, as he and Prema opted to unconventionally make a pit stop, amid high tyre degradation. Leclerc came in on lap 14 of 23, and emerged down in 14th place, but equipped with fresh tyres he lit up the timing screens, circulating some four seconds faster than his rivals. Leclerc sliced through the field in a calculated manner, avoiding contact, and never put a wheel wrong. With five laps to go he was eighth, next time around he was seventh, then fifth, and third, as he hunted down duelling race leaders Luca Ghiotto and Oliver Rowland. As the final lap began he cruised past Rowland, before picking off Ghiotto through Turn 4. The strategy was bold. Leclerc pulled it off.
Italy 2017 (Feature)
This year at Monza on Saturday it rained. And rained. The schedule was disrupted, meaning Formula 2 didn't begin until after 6pm, amid fading light, and the track still damp. Nyck de Vries brilliantly led while Leclerc swiftly moved up to second, from seventh, though their advantage over the pack was reduced due to a late Safety Car. Cue bedlam. Leclerc challenged de Vries, but went wide, and had to cede position, just as Luca Ghiotto passed the Dutchman for the lead. Ghiotto and de Vries began the final lap side-by-side, but the latter went wide, across the grass, while the pursuing Leclerc attempted to overhaul de Vries exiting the chicane – only for the pair to clash! Ghiotto stayed ahead, but a time penalty post-race demoted him behind Antonio Fuoco, the first win for the Ferrari junior. Ghiotto, though, made amends by winning the Sprint, and this time he kept it.