Arriving at the home of British motorsport on a overcast morning, it was clear that it would be a quite a day for me. Heading into the inner paddock, it was quietly eerie. Nothing like Grand Prix weekend, or even other event I had been to here like World Series by Renault or BritCar, but once the siren went off in the pitlane the day came very alive indeed.
The new Dallara chassis bears all the hallmarks of a modern F1 car now. Thin high rear wing, wide front wing, diffuser channels at the rear. It even has the bargeboard-type uprights to divert the airflow around the sidepods and the raised bumps on the nosecone like recent Red Bulls. They look as fast as they move. In all the teams colours, like Addax, Trident, DAMS and Carlin they look resplendant.
With GP2 teams getting their heads around the raft of changes the series is experiencing, I managed to get a chance to view the inner workings of several teams thanks to a sponsor. Sitting in the Super Nova garage from the off, the relaxed nature of the team helped me settle in as a spectator and they were very helpful in any questions I had – even the silly ones.
The first thing that strikes you when sitting in a GP2 garage is the lack of equipment it takes to run the new car. In a huge garage that has housed F1 powerhouses of technology, the teams have the bare minimum of a few laptops and a couple of containers for any necessary spare parts. It doesn’t seem to stop them though, but the gulf between a GP2 and an F1 team is obviously massive. If a driver is to step up from this series – and don’t forget F1 teams have invested interests in several – then it will be a huge shock to the system.
Another thing the teams have to get thier head around is the Pirelli tyres that have come into play. Using the same ones that Formula have means that several link ups between teams have occured up and down the pit-lane. As a fan, one thing you do notice with these Pirelli’s is the marbles the tyres generate as they wear. The pit-lane itself had scatterings of them from cars coming in from hot laps, but when you look at the track itself – especially around the braking areas – it’s an absolute mess of shredded tyre. If they want teams to pass each other without KERS and DRS like their older brothers, it isn’t going to be easy.
If you thought the Lotus war in F1 was bad, you should see the state of it in GP2. Team AirAsia is backed by Tony Fernandes, but doesn’t use the ‘L’ word. Group Lotus has backed the experienced ART team, and have decked out their cars with the now infamous green-and-yellow colours (probably as not to confuse anyone). With Jules Bianchi and Esteban Guittierez, test drivers for Ferrari and Sauber respectively, onboard then they do have a strong line-up. Further down the paddock, Super Nova driver Fairuz Fauzy wears Lotus Renault GP overalls as he’s one of their announced reserve drivers. Everywhere you look there’s a link to the British marque!
I’ve only followed the feeder series sporadically over the past few years. Watching from the pit-wall and hearing the noise, as well as meeting drivers and team members alike it’s clear that there is plenty of talent in GP2. To mingle with men that may one day be heroes to many was very special indeed.