Racing Engineering driver Neel Jani moves over to the new GP2 Series after a couple of seasons in Formula Renault V6, and has already marked himself out to be one of the stars of the year ahead.

After a day-and-a-half of hard testing graft in the south of France, the Swiss driver - who occasionally tests Sauber's F1 car - took time out to talk us around a lap of Circuit Paul Ricard, and give us his opinions on how the new Dallara GP2 car compares to its rivals.

"The first corner is a tight right-hander, which we take in first gear," he began, visualising the curves and contours of the HTTT circuit used for all GP2 group testing to date, "You have to be very precise with your braking point here, or you can go straight on to the parts of the circuit which aren't used in this configuration.

"From here, the track falls slightly downhill into turn two, which is more of a kink than a corner. It's an easy right-hander which you take climbing through the gears to fifth.

"Next up is a very special part of the circuit, the long and flowing chicane. You take this whole section in second gear as it rises uphill to the right, before sinking down to the left, back up to the right and back down again to the left. Exiting the chicane, the track dips down and then climbs gradually uphill to the brilliant Signes corner. By the time you reach Signes, you're in sixth gear and are taking this right-hander flat-out at around 270kph! It's amazing, really quick!

"Keeping your foot flat to the floor for the short straight that follows Signes, you're then immediately into another corner. Dropping the car down into fourth gear, you are faced with a tricky double right-hander, like a spoon curve. The lateral G-force here is huge and, as you exit the second apex, the compression is quite substantial. At this point, you're also faced with the fact that your rear end can snap away from you, so there's a lot to deal with.

"A short burst of power takes you up to fifth gear, but you're straight back on the brakes again and into second gear to accommodate the left hand corner which follows. While the next turn might look like a long right-hander, it doesn't seem like that much of a challenge from inside the cockpit. You can easily take it flat, accelerating up to fifth gear before braking down to third gear for the second-final left-hand corner. There's a lot of lateral G here, too and, again, you have to keep the rear end in check as you go hard on the brakes for the final corner - a tight first-gear right-hander.

"From the time you exit Signes, all the way through to the start-finish straight, you are constantly changing direction. You pull lateral G of incredible force, whilst also trying to compensate between oversteer and understeer, and also keep the rear end straight. It's a huge challenge, but a very exciting one.

"Coming out of the final corner, you can floor the throttle once again as you emerge onto the start-finish straight. But you have to be careful - the GP2 car has no power-steering or traction control, so the rear end can prove to be very lively.

"The last occasion that I drove this specific layout at Circuit Paul Ricard was back in 2003. I've been speaking to my engineers from the time, and they tell me that in the Formula Renault V6 my lap-times were more than ten seconds slower than we are doing at the moment - that's quite a jump! The downforce, skirts, power... everything about this car is so much better.

"I tested the Red Bull Racing car a few months back, and I don't think that there is another category other than GP2 which is so closely matched to F1. You can now feel the carbon brakes, the car is quick, has good acceleration and is strong. As the final step to Formula One, the GP2 series is perfect."