Top 10 GP2 Driver of the Year 2011:
Caterham Team AirAsia
0 (Asia), 19 (Europe)
25th (Asia), 12th (Europe)
Luiz Razia is one of those drivers who almost has greater name recognition in the F1 paddock than he does in the GP2 pit lane: after spending a year as test driver for the Virgin Racing F1 team in 2010, his switch to GP2's Caterham Team AirAsia this season led to him also becoming its sister team Team Lotus F1's test driver in 2011. And he was also rewarded with a chance to drive in two Grand Prix free practice sessions (in China and in Razia's native Brazil.)
Perhaps that F1 exposure explains why he featured so highly in the Crash.net
readers poll, because to be honest his GP2 season this year has been somewhat anonymous. Too many retirements and a car that seemed more prone to wearing out its tyres faster than its rivals stopped him from building much in the way of momentum during the year. He retired on the first lap of both the GP2 Asia feature races, which thoroughly compromised his grid positions for their sprint counterparts, and then suffered six further retirements during the 18 races of the main European season.
There was a starting grid accident at Barcelona; contact with Fabio Leimer at the Nurburgring and with Charles Pic in the soaking conditions at Spa; plus a jump start penalty wrecking his weekend at Monaco. However, there were some bright spots: coming second in the Valencia sprint after a race-long battle for position with eventual winner Esteban Gutiérrez, and a third place in the Hungary feature after starting from a well-earned pole position but then getting held up in pit lane at a critical point mid-race by Marcus Ericsson.
Together with points positions in the Turkey and Valencia feature races, this amassed him 19pts and left him in 12th place in the drivers championship. That was actually a slight retreat on his 2010 performance (11th place on 28pts with Rapax) - and moreover some way behind his team mate Davide Valsecchi, who had also succeeded in giving AirAsia its first win in its maiden season in GP2.
Razia did finish the year with a positive GP2 Final weekend with a terrific start off the grid in the feature race to take second place, but as he comes to the end of his third full season in GP2 the question on his (and everyone else's) mind is whether he really has anything left to learn from GP2 and whether he will be back in the series again in 2012.