Vitaly Petrov leads Pastor Maldonado/GP2 Sepang - Photo: Andrew Ferraro/GP2 Series Media Service

F1 drivers Vitaly Petrov and Pastor Maldonado finished first and second in the most recent GP2 race at Sepang, in the 2008/09 Asia Series - Photo: Andrew Ferraro/GP2 Series Media Service

The 2012 GP2 Series will be bookended by flyaway races in South East Asia, after series organisers confirmed the calendar for next year.

The season will consist of 12 race weekends, and begin at Sepang in Malaysia in support of the Malaysian Grand Prix on 23rd March. The GP2 Asia Series (which has been merged into the main series for 2012) previously raced at the circuit near Kuala Lumpur in 2008 and 2009, but this will be the first visit for the main series.

Next will come back-to-back events in Bahrain, the first in support of the Formula 1 Grand Prix and the next the following weekend – the only standalone event of the year. The main series has previously had rounds at the Sakhir circuit in 2005 and 2007. Two rounds at Bahrain were scheduled for the Asia Series in early 2011 but had to be cancelled due to the anti-government protests in the Gulf state.

The season will then take its traditional route through Europe, supporting the Grands Prix in Barcelona, Monaco, Valencia, Silverstone, Hockenheim, Budapest, Spa-Francorchamps and Monza.

The season will then return to Asia to conclude with a first ever GP2 round in Singapore on 21-23, again in support of the F1 Grand Prix.

“GP2 being the natural and logical path to Formula One, it is imperative that our calendar carries as many F1 tracks as possible including tracks outside Europe which is why we added Bahrain, Sepang and Singapore this season,” said Series CEO Bruno Michel. “However, the Series has also to remain affordable, therefore we did not want to add more overseas circuits.

“Racing on eleven F1 tracks in 2012 with a car close to F1 in performance and using the same tyres, GP2 drivers will gain as much experience as possible which will enable them to be immediately competitive in the next category as previously demonstrated by all our graduates. We have also made sure that we remain affordable by working together with our partners in order to keep down freight and spare parts costs.

“I am glad that we will be going back to Kuala Lumpur: we've seen during the Asia Series some very exciting races there. It is a splendid venue to open a new chapter of our Series which includes new sporting regulations. We've always raced in Bahrain since the inception of our Series – Nico Rosberg won both races in 2005. We will close our season in Singapore. It will be the first time ever that our Series goes there. It is very exciting!”

Two three-day pre-season test sessions will be held in Spain, at Jerez on 28-29 February and 01 March and at Barcelona on 06-07-08 March.

Stay tuned to the for continued coverage of the GP2  Series throughout 2012.

2012 GP2 Series calendar

Date Venue
Test 28-29 Feb- 01 March Jerez de la Frontera, Spain
Test 6-7-8 March Barcelona, Spain
R1 23-25 March Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
R2 20-22 April Sakhir, Bahrain
R3 26-28 April Sakhir, Bahrain
R4 11-13 May Barcelona, Spain
R5 24-26 May Monte Carlo, Monaco
R6 22-24 June Valencia, Spain
R7 06-08 July Silverstone, Great-Britain
R8 20-22 July Hockenheim, Germany
R9 27-29 July Budapest, Hungary
R10 31 Aug – 02 September Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
R11 07-09 September Monza, Italy
R12 21-23 September Singapore, Singapore