The GP2 Series this week finalised the championship’s 2013 calendar and while it is generally the same as this year’s schedule, there remain minor alterations.
As with the 2012 calendar, GP2 open their season at Sepang (Malaysia) in March, before visiting Bahrain’s Sakhir circuit four weeks later; however unlike this year, the Middle Eastern territory will be hosting a second standalone event.
GP2’s European stint begins in mid-May as Formula One’s Spanish Grand Prix support at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya.
Following the Spanish adventure, there will be trips to Monaco (May 23-25), Silverstone (June 28-30), the Nurburgring (July 5-7) and the Hungaroring (July 26-28), before the four-week summer break kicks in.
The series returns toward the tail end of August with a move to the historic Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium, with the European leg concluding at Monza on September 8th.
There will be a second visit to the Singapore’s Marina Bay street circuit (September 20-22); however unlike his season, the series does not end there, but rather returns to the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi at the beginning of November.
Two pre-season tests have also been announced. Come the very end of February, the series will take advantage of three days of running at Jerez, before moving to Barcelona for a further three days over the following week.
All in all, this represents a fairly positive calendar for the series, although it is unfortunate that there is a six-week gap between the final two rounds. Such a lengthy gap could go some way to extinguishing momentum should the championship go down to the wire.
The last time the series visited Abu Dhabi (at the end of 2011), the race was a non-championship event for rookie GP2 drivers, forward looking GP3 and Formula Renault 3.5 competitors, as well as few randomers.
The loss of the standalone at Bahrain is probably no great worry; however with the Grand Prix of Valencia also off the calendar, it does leave a couple of rather noticeable gaps during the mid-point of the season.
According to GP2 Series CEO Bruno Michel: “2013 will be another strong season for GP2. We have decided to keep the prestigious tracks outside of Europe, starting with Sepang and Sakhir, two venues which provided some heart-stopping action last season. We are also returning to Singapore in September for the second time of the Series’ history. I am very pleased to be closing the season in Abu Dhabi: we have been to that track several times with GP2 Asia and raced there last time in November 2011 with our latest generation car.
“Added to these four overseas events, we will be racing alongside F1 in all seven European rounds which brings a total of eleven F1 tracks on our calendar again next season. Since the Series started in 2005, we have always provided the drivers with a car close to F1 in performance and used the same tyres. This package guarantees the GP2 drivers to gain the ultimate and most-needed experience to graduate to the next category. Our sole goal has always been and will continue to remain to prepare the next generation of F1 drivers. I believe that’s exactly what we will see again in 2013 and I am really looking forward to next season.”
Outside of the calendar, nine drivers have also been confirmed for the 2013 GP2 Series thus far, with three teams fully solidifying their line-ups early on.
Reigning champions DAMS have an entirely new driver pairing for next season with Marcus Ericsson moving from iSport and Stéphane Richelmi transferring from Trident, while Felipe Nasr and Jolyon Palmer take up the mantle at Carlin.
Lotus GP have a very strong line-up in James Calado and GP3 graduate Daniel Abt – an impressive duo that may well be challenging for the title. Rio Haryanto, Stefano Coletti and Daniël de Jong are returning to GP2 with Barwa Addax, Rapax and MP Motorsport respectively.
Tests 26-28 February Jerez de la Frontera, Spain 5-7 March Barcelona, Spain Race Calendar 22-24 March Sepang, Malaysia 19-21 April Sakhir, Bahrain 10-12 May Barcelona, Spain 23-25 May Monte Carlo, Monaco 28-30 June Silverstone, Great-Britain 05-07 July Nurburgring, Germany 26-28 July Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary 23-25 August Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium 06-08 September Monza, Italy 20-22 September Marina Bay, Singapore 01-03 November Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi