3 November 2013
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: McLaren looking to place driver in GP2?
Martin Whitmarsh: I think that it has become difficult for a rookie to come in and win it [GP2]. I do think that a good quality rookie can come in and win it and that is what I am hoping is going to happen next year.
Fabio Leimer was crowned the 2013 GP2 champion following his fourth place finish in the Abu Dhabi feature race on Saturday. The 24 year old Swiss driver has raced in the series for the last four years and prior to this season had only won twice in his first 62 race starts.
Leimer has looked impressive throughout 2013 but when asked about the overall health of GP2, McLaren team principal, Martin Whitmarsh, admitted that the lack of depth in the series was a cause for concern.
With McLaren using the World Series by Renault as their proving ground for nurturing talent, the Englishman was asked for his thoughts on the overall standing of GP2 at present.
“I think that there's nothing wrong in GP2 but I feel that the quality of the field recently in World Series has been far beyond that in GP2,” said Whitmarsh. “With all respect to the guy that won today [Fabio Leimer], I'm sure he's done a good job but he's been here for four years and a few Asian series to get here.”
“GP2 has got considerable merit, however,” he added, “in that you're on the right circuits and the right tyres.”
With this season's GP2 crown having been fought out amongst established names in the series, the top rookie was Alexander Rossi, the race winner on Saturday. But with the American currently ninth in the standings, it is clear that there is an issue in GP2 with five of the drivers ahead of him in the championship in their third year.
When you compare this to Formula Renault 3.5, where the championship contenders were all in their first two seasons in the series, there have been numerous drivers touted to move to F1 next season and it is clear that the depth of talent in the series is much deeper than GP2.
Whitmarsh however still clearly believes in the structure of GP2 and the benefits of learning F1 circuits and he alluded to the fact that McLaren will look to place on their young drivers into GP2 next season.
“I think that it has become difficult for a rookie to come in and win it. I do think that a good quality rookie can come in and win it and that is what I am hoping is going to happen next year,” he stated.
When asked specifically if that meant a McLaren supported young driver could make the move, Whitmarsh simply smiled and said: “Maybe.”
The highest profile McLaren young drivers are Formula Renault 3.5 champion, Kevin Magnussen, and runner-up Stoffel Vandoorme, who thoroughly impressed throughout his rookie campaign by winning four races and claiming ten rostrum finishes. Magnusson has been linked to F1 seats with Marussia and Force India in recent months but with Max Chilton likely to be retained at Marussia and Force India's line-up for 2014 still uncertain, his future is unknown.
by Stephen English at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi
Click on relevant pic to enlarge
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