It’s all change this year in the GP2 series, with the top three from 2013, Fabio Leimer, Sam Bird and James Calado amongst the drivers all departing to pastures new. 2014 will see no fewer than eight drivers making their debuts in the GP2 series. Lets take a closer look at those debutants and where they plied their trade in 2013.
Takuya Izawa – Japan – ART Grand Prix
At 29 becomes one of the oldest rookies in GP2 history, and moves over from Japan where he raced in the Super Formula series last year with minimal success. Joins ART as part of the Honda link-up the team have with McLaren F1. Might struggle in comparison to his team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne.
Raffaele Marciello – Italy – Racing Engineering
Highly-rated by many, and part of the Ferrari F1 junior programme who had to decide whether to place him in GP2 or Formula Renault 3.5, an ultimately Racing Engineering, who took Fabio Leimer to the 2013 championship, was his final destination for 2014. The Italian comes into GP2 as the reigning FIA European F3 Champion. Has a 2013 GP2 title contender in Stefano Coletti as his team-mate which promises to be a good in-house battle.
Artem Markelov – Russia – Russian Time
Finished as runner-up in the German Formula Three championship in 2013 behind Marvin Kirchhofer. Steps up to the GP2 series this year, and becomes the first Russian to race for the Russian Time team. Maybe has stepped up too far too soon, especially with Kirchhofer only moving to GP3, but only time will tell. Has a very talented team-mate in the form of Mitch Evans to contend with too.
Andre Negrao – Brazil – Arden International
The Brazilian moves over from the Formula Renault 3.5 series where he raced for International Draco Racing, taking a solitary podium in 2013 at Paul Ricard. Should have aims to be the best Arden driver in the series, with Austrian Rene Binder his team-mate this year.
Arthur Pic – France – Campos Racing
Pic is another driver who has swapped Formula Renault 3.5 for GP2 in 2014. He is the younger brother of Lotus F1 reserve driver Charles, and joins Campos Racing after three years in FR3.5. He scored a solitary podium in Aragon last year for AV Formula and should provide Campos with a solid and professional year of driving. Has another rookie in the form of Kimiya Sato as his 2014 team-mate.
Facu Regalia – Argentina – Hilmer Motorsport
Regalia is possibly the best hope Argentina have of becoming a Formula 1 driver at present. He finished runner-up to new Toro Rosso F1 driver Daniil Kvyat in 2013, taking the GP3 series title battle to the final event in Abu Dhabi. Has German driver Daniel Abt as team-mate, meaning Hilmer have the past two GP3 series runner-up’s in their team for 2014.
Kimiya Sato – Japan – Campos Racing
Sato became the second Japanese driver to be announced for 2014, and has moved from the Auto GP World Series where he finished second in the championship last year to join Campos Racing in GP2. Tested for the Sauber F1 team in last years young driver test at Silverstone so should be one to watch as he gets used to the GP2 cars. Frenchman Arthur Pic should give him a good challenge as his 2014 team-mate.
Stoffel Vandoorne – Belgium – ART Grand Prix
The McLaren F1 reserve driver comes into GP2 regarded as one of the best young drivers around right now. Moves over from Formula Renault 3.5 where he finished second behind Kevin Magnussen, but his consistency was brilliant and should be regarded as a pre-season favourite this year with ART. Should comfortably outscore and outperform team-mate Takuya Izawa.