Single-seater series, Auto GP, has been announced as the main support category for the World Touring Car Championship in 2011.
The series, which has had painfully little exposure in recent years, replaces Formula 2 as WTCC’s lead in event, earning itself a contract with sports cable channel Eurosport in the process.
Kicking off in May at Italy’s famous Monza circuit, Auto GP’s 2011 season will also support the WTCC at Marrakech (Morocco), Brno (Czech Republic), Donington Park (England), Oschersleben (Germany) and Valencia circuit (Spain). The championship will also run its own stand-alone event on the streets of Bucharest in Romania.
Formerly known as Euroseries 3000, the rebranded Auto GP débuted earlier this year as a simple low cost formula that offers a fund of €200,000 to be split between the top 6 at every race. It’s race weekend is similar to that of GP2, with a feature race that offers points to 8th, before reversing the top-8 for a sprint race. The sprint race pays to 6th position.
Made up of Zytec-powered Lola machines, the cars boast 3.4 litre V8 engines, that produce an output of 550 bhp. Former-Renault Formula 1 driver, Romain Grosjean was the first recipient of the Auto GP crown; he took the prize ahead of Edoardo Piscopo and Duncan Tappy. Another notable past victor is Ferrari pilot Felipe Massa, who took the series in 2002.
Of course, this leaves Formula 2 with something of a problem. Although the F2 organisers have announced an eight-race calendar, it appears to be mainly stand-alone events. It has also lost the contract it had with Eurosport and may suffer further from running most of its events opposite Formula 1 race weekends.
The new Formula 2 schedule takes in five current Formula 1 circuits (Silverstone, Spa-Francorchamps, Nurburgring, Monza and Barcelona), while also visiting three former Grand Prix venues – Magny Cours, Brands Hatch and the newly re-opened Red Bull Ring (formerly the A1 Ring). There are also be two test sessions on the horizon at the magnificent Portimao circuit in Portugal and at the Grand Prix track in Barcelona.
With limited popularity and exposure, Formula 2 runs the risk of dropping of the face of the earth. If it wishes to remain a credible prospect, Motorsport Vision may need to act fast.
2011 Auto GP Calendar
23-24 March; Barcelona test, Spain
13-15 May; Monza, Italy
3-5 June; Marrakech, Morocco
17-19 June; Brno, Czech Republic
15-17 July; Donington, UK
29-31 July; Oschersleben, Germany
19-21 August; Bucharest, Romania
2-4 September; Valencia, Spain
2011 Formula 2 Calendar
2-3 December 2010; Portimao test, Spain
9-10 December 2010; Barcelona test, Spain
15-17 April; Silverstone, UK
20-22 May; Magny-Cours, France
24-26 June; Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
1-3 July; Nürburgring, Germany
22-24 July; Brands Hatch, UK
26-28 August; Red Bull Ring, Austria
30 Sep-2 – October; Monza, Italy
28-30 – October; Barcelona, Spain