Next season will see the GP2 Series expand its horizons with trips to Asia and the Middle East alongside its traditional European rounds.
Beyond their usual Formula 1 support slots, GP2 will also see rounds take place in Malaysia, Bahrain and Singapore in 2012, with another stand-alone event in Bahrain is also due to take place one week after Formula 1 visits in April.
It will mark the first time GP2 has visited the streets of Singapore, although the category has previously travelled to both Sepang and Sakhir in its GP2 Asia format.
The calendar has proved somewhat controversial with regards to the inclusion of two rounds in Bahrain, during what is still a considerably potent and volatile period in the nation’s history.
Another point of contention is the potential increased costs involved for competitors. Rumblings of budgets beyond the €2 million mark had been touted at the beginning of 2011 – a number that may rise significantly with trips to the Far East now included in the package.
Should budgets be pushed to the limit, late season driver changes may become a common sight in coming seasons.
The second event in Bahrain may also prove a difficult prospect – with Formula 1 absent and GP2 acting as the lead event, attendance at the circuit may drop far below previous numbers.
2012 GP2 calendar: Date Venue Test 28 Feb-1 March Jerez, Spain 6-8 March Barcelona, Spain Championship 23-25 March Sepang, Malaysia 20-22 April Sakhir, Bahrain 26-28 April Sakhir, Bahrain 11-13 May Barcelona, Spain 24-26 May Monte Carlo, Monaco 22-24 June Valencia, Spain 6-8 July Silverstone, Great Britain 20-22 July Hockenheim, Germany 27-29 July Budapest, Hungary 31 Aug-2 Sept Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium 7-9 Sept Monza, Italy 21-23 Sept Marina Bay, Singapore
The 2012 GP3 schedule looks like sticking to eight rounds if series organisers have their own way.
As of now, there are seven confirmed rounds, although an eighth event to support the Monaco Grand Prix is still being discussed.
GP3 did initially look to grabbing a place in Monaco for this year’s Grand Prix, only for the request to be turned down due to an overly compacted schedule. However, Formula Renault 3.5 has still yet to confirm its position at Monaco next year, potentially leaving the door open for GP3 to slip in.
There are also three pre-season test sessions at Estoril, Barcelona and Silverstone for the GP3 series with a fourth coming mid-season at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia.
With Turkey now off the Formula 1 calendar, neither GP2 nor GP3 are set to visit the Istanbul Park Circuit next year.
2012 GP3 calendar: Date Venue Test 21-22 Feb Estoril, Portugal 12-13 March Barcelona, Spain 11-12 April Silverstone, Great Britain 14-15 June Valencia, Spain Championship 11-13 May Barcelona, Spain 24-27 May Monte-Carlo, Monaco* 22-24 June Valencia, Spain 6-8 July Silverstone, Great Britain 20-22 July Hockenheim, Germany 27-29 July Budapest, Hungary 31 Aug-2 Sept Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium 7-9 Sept Monza, Italy * Subject to ASN approval