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GP2 and GP2 Asia Series to merge

GP2 organisers have confirmed the long-rumoured move to merge the GP2 main European series with its GP2 Asia counterpart in 2012 following a one-off GP2 Final in November.
The GP2 Asia series is to be folded into the main GP2 series starting with the 2012 season, organisers have confirmed.

GP2 series CEO Bruno Michel confirmed the merger of the two series on Tuesday, explaining that the two series had already moved so close together in terms of driver and team participation that separation was no longer sensible and a merger was the obvious step forward.

"In 2011, almost eighty-five percent of the drivers who did the Asia Series this season are taking part of the European Series as we are using the GP2/11 car in both categories," he explained. "This year also marked the fact that for the first time the same thirteen teams entered both Series. We talked to them and we decided that it was logical to have one single Series from 2012."

GP2 Asia had a troubled 2011 season through no fault of its own, after political unrest in Bahrain led to the last-minute cancellation of two of the three scheduled rounds leading to the abrupt curtailment of the season, with the second and final round of the year eventually taking place at the distinctly non-Asian venue of Imola.

Although the victim of events beyond its control, the problems did affect the GP2 Asia 'brand' and left it looking rather like the unloved poor relation in the motorsports line-up, which led to strong rumours that it would be folded into the main GP2 series that have been now been confirmed.

GP2 was originally created in 2005 as a "feeder series" and support race to the European rounds of F1. As Bernie Ecclestone pushed for more Grands Prix in the Middle East and Asia, the GP2 Asia brand was created to follow the F1 expansion into those markets. However the growth has not gone as well as hoped with GP2 Asia having to stage stand-alone events away from F1 weekends, and this year's calendar saw the GP2 season limited to just Yas Marina at Abu Dhabi and the ill-starred Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir.

Hopes that the GP2 Asia series would offer opportunities for more teams and drivers to participate in GP2 overall have also declined, as teams and drivers have come to see running in the Asia races to be a necessary pre-cursor to mounting a GP2 Europe campaign in terms of gathering data and experience.

Instead, most onlookers were simply left confused about the two different GP2 brands, a situation that undermined both series and which has led to the decision to consolidate all the races into a single, stronger and more cohesive championship that will also last for a longer period over the year alongside a greater variety of F1 Grand Prix events.

GP2 organisers said that they would "announce the 2012 calendar and the number of rounds at a later date."

"The merger will definitely help drivers gain even more experience on F1 circuits throughout the world and will make the Series even more attractive and competitive," said Bruno Michel.

Before the merger formally takes place, organisers have announced that a single weekend 2011 GP2 Final event will be held on November 12-13 in Abu Dhabi as a special support event to the F1 Grand Prix at the venue.




Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Romain Grosjean (FRA, Dams) celebrates his feature race victory on the podium. Valencia Spain. 25th June 2011. [Photo: Glenn Dunbar/GP2 Media Service.]
Bruno Michel, GP2 CEO. [Photo credit: Drew Gibson/GP2 Media Service.]
GP2 series logo on the GP2/11 Car. [World Copyright: Drew Gibson/GP2 Media Service.]
2015 GP3 Series Round 2. Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria. Saturday 20 June 2015. Matheo Tuscher (SUI, Jenzer Motorsport) Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Media Service
2015 GP2 Series Round 4. Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria. Friday 19 June 2015. Artem Markelov (RUS, RUSSIAN TIME) Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Media Service
Sunday 21 June 2015. Rio Haryanto (INA, Campos Racing) leads Artem Markelov (RUS, RUSSIAN TIME) Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Media Service
2015 GP3 Series Round 2. Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria. Sunday 21 June 2015. Oscar Tunjo (COL, Trident) Photo: Alastair Staley/GP3 Media Service
Rio Haryanto (INA, Campos Racing), Artem Markelov (RUS, RUSSIAN TIME), Nick Yelloly (GBR, Hilmer Motorsport), Alexander Rossi (USA, Racing Engineering) and Nobuharu Matsushita (JPN, ART Grand Prix) battle for the lead at the start. Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Media Service
2015 GP2 Series Round 4. Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria. Sunday 21 June 2015. Rio Haryanto (INA, Campos Racing), Artem Markelov (RUS, RUSSIAN TIME), Nick Yelloly (GBR, Hilmer Motorsport), Alexander Rossi (USA, Racing Engineering) and Nobuharu Matsushita (JPN, ART Grand Prix) battle for the lead at the start. Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Media Service
2015 GP2 Series Round 4. Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria. Sunday 21 June 2015. Rio Haryanto (INA, Campos Racing) drives past his team celebrating on the pit wall. Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Media Service
2015 GP2 Series Round 4. Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria. Sunday 21 June 2015. Rio Haryanto (INA, Campos Racing) celebrates his win in Parc Ferme. Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Media Service
2015 GP2 Series Round 4. Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria. Sunday 21 June 2015. Rio Haryanto (INA, Campos Racing) celebrates his win in Parc Ferme with his team. Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Media Service
2015 GP2 Series Round 4. Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria. Sunday 21 June 2015. Rio Haryanto (INA, Campos Racing) celebrates his win on the podium.
2015 GP2 Series Round 4. Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria. Sunday 21 June 2015. Rio Haryanto (INA, Campos Racing), Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL, ART Grand Prix) & Nobuharu Matsushita (JPN, ART Grand Prix) Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Media Service
2015 GP2 Series Round 4. Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria. Sunday 21 June 2015. Rio Haryanto (INA, Campos Racing) Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Media Service
2015 GP3 Series Round 2. Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria. Sunday 21 June 2015. Oscar Tunjo (COL, Trident) celebrates his win in Parc Ferme. Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Media Service
2015 GP3 Series Round 2. Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria. Sunday 21 June 2015. Oscar Tunjo (COL, Trident) celebrates his win on the podium. Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Media Service
2015 GP3 Series Round 2. Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria. Sunday 21 June 2015. Oscar Tunjo (COL, Trident) celebrates his win on the podium with Marvin Kirchhofer (GER, ART Grand Prix) and Esteban Ocon (FRA, ART Grand Prix). Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Media Service

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