GP2 has for over a decade proved the crucial stepping stone for aspiring Formula One drivers. But the series is officially ending this season, replaced by the FIA Formula 2 Championship.
The deal, which essentially boils down to a renaming, will see what was known as the GP2 Series re-emerge in line with the FIA’s ladder of single-seater racing series alongside F1, the F3 European Championship, and various F4 series taking place locally in 12 counties around the world.
“Completing this process with Formula One Group and bringing Formula 2 to life is a very important step,” said FIA president Jean Todt. “The series will provide a fantastic opportunity for junior drivers who are looking to reach the ultimate goal of Formula 1.”
The GP2 Series was launched by now-former F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone and former Renault team principal Flavio Briatore in 2005 as a training ground for up-and-coming formula racing drivers. It has since seen 30 drivers graduate from GP2 to Formula One, including world champions Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton – both of whom won the GP2 championship on their way up to F1.
F2 previously served the function from 1948 through 1985, when it was replaced by Formula 3000. The format was revived in 2009 through 2012 when it was disbanded again. Another attempt at bringing it back failed in 2015.
GP2 cars are built by Dallara and powered by 4.0-liter V8 engines furnished by Mecachrome. The rebranded series will presumably continue with the same machinery (introduced in 2011) until they need to be replaced by a new design. No word yet on what this might mean in the long run for the GP3 Series that has stood one rung down the ladder from GP2 as an alternative to Formula Three. The previous GP2 Asia series merged into the main GP2 series in 2011 after four seasons that saw Haas F1 driver Romain Grosjean win the title twice.