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Is GP2 becoming obsolete?

Since it was announced that Kimi Raikkonen decided to leave Lotus F1, many driver names have been tossed about as a possible replacement except reigning GP2 champion Davide Valsecchi.
Tuesday, November 5, 2013

November 5th, 2013 (F1plus/E Black).- The hot tip is Nico Hulkenberg who has had several impressive performances in his short F1 career. More recently, Pastor Maldonado's name has been added to the short list because he comes with a handsome briefcase full of a lot of PDVSA sponsorship cash. Ferrari's Felipe Massa shouldn't be discounted from the list despite the stories of his link to a Williams drive in 2014.

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All this time, former GP2 Asia Series and GP2 series champion Davide Valsecchi has been forgotten. Not once did his name appear on the proverbial short list to partner Romain Grosjean who he replaced at the DAMS team in GP2 in 2012.

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GP2 is certainly a stepping stone into the world of Formula One however as time goes on, funding and not GP2 experience seems to be more coveted by would-be F1 employers. While the Italian sits quietly in the Lotus F1 garage with his race suit on and his helmet handy, it becomes more and more apparent that he is not destined to drive for the Enstone based team.

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So what value does it truly hold for anyone racing in GP2 to win the championship? Jules Bianchi had 10 podiums and 1 victory in GP2 in 2010-2011 finishing 3rd in both seasons and he somehow snagged a race seat with Marussia. He did so while displacing Luiz Razia (who partnered Valsecchi in 2011) whose funding fell through in the 11th hour. It should be noted that Bianchi has shown he is certainly worthy with some inspiring drives and impressive performances.

GP2 historically has been a very effective feeder series in the past while it can be argued it still as its place as such. If we were to reference the series standings in the last few years it becomes abundantly clear that it holds value.

In the last 7 of 8 GP2 seasons, the champion has at one point or another secured a drive in Formula One; Nico Rosberg (2005), Lewis Hamilton (2006), Timo Glock (2007), Gioro Pantano (2008), Nico Hulkenberg (2009), Pastor Maldonado (2010) and Romain Grosjean (2011). And while 2012 champ Valsecchi is technically in F1, it's only in the capacity of test/third driver.

Can the young Italian become the 8th GP2 champion in 8 years to compete in F1 this weekend in Abu Dhabi? It's highly unlikely that he'll have the opportunity, but there is a slight possibility that the relationship between Raikkonen and team Lotus has deteriorated enough, which could see the Finn not complete the season. There are rumors swirling that indicate that Valsecchi might get the call to replace Kimi if that were the case.

If this is does not in fact transpire which is likely the case, then Davide will continue to sit in the garage with helmet in hand waiting for his opportunity.

As it stands, the GP2 champion is no closer to securing a drive with a Formula One team for 2014 than Barrichello is. He must be wondering if this is it for him as he sits with the knowledge that winning a championship in GP2 is simply not enough to win a race seat in F1.

So back to the question asked, Is GP2 becoming obsolete?

In a world where money talks, it may well seem that there is certainly a case to be made...

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