Top 10 GP2 Driver of the Year 2011:
Giedo van der Garde
16 (Asia), 49 (Europe)
3rd (Asia), 5th (Europe)
Coming into his third season in GP2, Giedo van der Garde was all too aware that it was time to deliver or start looking elsewhere. He'd finished in seventh place in both 2009 (with iSport) and 2010 (with Barwa Addax), and it was time to show that he was a true title contender if he was to realise any hopes of progressing through to F1.
He started well with the GP2 Asia mini-season, thanks in particular to a stellar weekend at the hastily-arranged stand-in venue of Imola that saw him take a second place in the feature and follow it up with third in the sprint. That netted him third place in the GP2 Asia drivers championship behind Romain Grosjean and Jules Bianchi, and it seemed clear at the time that this had drawn the battle lines for who the leading contenders would be for the main title battle.
Sure enough, van der Garde had an excellent start to the European season - fourth in the Turkey feature race was followed by back-to-back second places in the sprint race and the Barcelona feature, which put him into the joint lead in the points with Sam Bird despite being barged into premature retirement by Bianchi off the starting grid in the Barcelona sprint.
Van der Garde clashed with Bianchi again in the Monaco feature race, and all of a sudden he had dropped to fifth in the championship. He quickly rebounded with podium positions in both the Valencia events, and went on to add a third place in the Silverstone sprint race, but it seemed his momentum was slowly being lost. He tangled with Dani Clos in the Nurburgring sprint race, and hit by both Esteban Gutierrez and Rodolfo Gonzalez in atrocious conditions in the Spa feature, and ended up well out of the points in both of the final two weekends of the season. By this time, he had dropped to 5th place in the championship.
Where this now leaves the Dutch driver is anyone's guess. He's on record as saying he's not interested in a fourth season in GP2, but it's hard to see the F1 bosses knocking on his door just yet either.
Top 10 GP2 Driver of the Year 2011 results so far:
9. Tom Dillmann
10. Luiz Razia