Whilst Sebastian Vettel was merely edging nearer his title triumph over the Belgian Grand Prix weekend 2009 Renault misfit Romain Grosjean was wrapping his up. The Franco-Swiss racer scored his ninth podium of the campaign – five of which were race wins – to secure the championship and thus complete his penance for that troubled seven race stint with the Reige two years ago.

Being as GP2 has a new champ we thought it apt to cast an eye over the drivers who’ve graduated from the series and pick our top five. Can’t guess who’s at number one? Seriously?! Well, better read on then…

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Kamui Kobayashi

Fifth on this list was a toss-up between Kobayashi-san and Renault’s Vitaly Petrov. Kamui makes the grade for a few reasons: he’s passed more people in a single race than Petrov has in his entire F1 career, he takes zero cash to his team whilst Vitaly coughs up a lot of sponsorship dough and, frankly, he’s a better racing driver. Prove us wrong V.P – prove us wrong.

However in GP2 things were different. Whilst Petrov was runner-up in the main series in 2009 Kobayashi was largely rubbish during his two seasons at the DAMS team (for whom Grosjean took the title). Okay, the Kamui won the GP2 Asia title in 2008/09, but this was more down to the fact that the blisteringly quick Nico Hulkenberg didn’t contest the who championship. Basically, Kamui’s GP2 form did nothing to prepare us for his heroics at the wheel of an F1 car. Anyway, here he is shunting in GP2 with Vitaly at Monaco.

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Timo Glock

It’s easy to forget, but two years ago Timo Glock was a very promising looking F1 driver. He’d scored podiums and was growing in maturity, so even when Toyota pulled out of the sport his future remained bright. Then he signed with Virgin.

Today that appears to have been a catastrophic mistake, with Timo now having spent two years glued to the back of the grid and more used to being lapped multiple times than overtaking anyone at all. There’s promise for the team following the disposal of Nick Wirth and a technical tie-up with McLaren, but there are still no guarantees Timo will ever get back to the front of an F1 grid.

Boring fact: the German became the first GP2 champion who had prior F1 experience (Giorgio Pantano and Romain Grosjean have since joined that list) when he took the 2007 crown for iSport. He was largely very, very good, but we’re sure he’d like to forget the following incident with team-mate Andi Zuber…

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Heikki Kovalainen

Well, he has won a grand prix, and that’s why he’s third on this list. Okay, it was handed to him when Felipe Massa’s Ferrari conked out a few laps from the flag at Hungary ’08, but a win is a win. In fact, that triumph made Heikki the 100th person to take F1 race victory – and you can’t take that away from him.

2009 was a poor year but Kovalainen has rebuilt his reputation at Lotus. He’s not yet near a place where a top team will sign him up – he probably never will be – but he’s certainly moved out of Lewis Hamilton’s shadow and in to a warm, green glow. Added to this his Twitter is so inane as to be beautifully entertaining.

In GP2 he narrowly missed out on the inaugural title to Nico Rosberg, the German coming from some way back to snatch the crown at the Bahrain season closer. Both deserved their chances in F1, but even then something told you Heikki was just a shade dimer than Rosberg in the talent stakes.

But forget all that: we know the Kovster has a pretty strong female following, so here’s a clip of him looking oh-so fresh-faced back in 2005. Altogether now: awww!

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Nico Rosberg

If you give Nico Rosberg a capable car he will win races. It’s obvious. The guy has had the talent from day one, displaying supreme speed on his journey to F1 and pretty much ever since. That said at 26 he’s getting to be a bit of a pre-title Button or Hakkinen: we know he has the ability, but will he ever win a race?

In GP2 he won plenty on his way to the 2005 title,  beating the likes of fellow F1 racers Kovalainen, Speed and Piquet in the process. But that was now six whole  years ago, and Nico hasn’t stood atop a podium since. Perhaps he consoles himself by watching clips such as this one, which sees Rosberg make mugs of both Heikki and Giorgio Pantano.

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Lewis Hamilton

It’s a total no-brainer, really: after all, Lewis is the only GP2 graduate to win a Formula One world championship. But he’s also so much more than that: Hamilton is a brilliantly fast driver, capable of incredible feats in the car; he’s also got the odd flaw, which simply serves to make him an even more intriguing sportsman.

From a brilliant GP2 title in 2006 he leapt in to a McLaren and nearly repeated the feat in F1. He finished the job in 2008 (just) and has won races in each of his five years in the sport. And he will keep winning races for many years to come, of that there is little doubt. The only question is whether he’ll bag himself another title. The below video consists of some of his more choice GP2 passing. Awesome stuff

 

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