In the run-up to the start of pre-season testing Motorsport Week brings you left-field reflections and stories of teams, drivers and reserves that will be part of the Formula 1 paddock in 2019.
Regulations preclude GP2 Series – or Formula 2 – champions from defending their titles, but Romain Grosjean has the unique distinction of having taken three titles in the division. That’s because two of those came in the GP2 Asia championship.
In early 2008 GP2 launched a winter series – called GP2 Asia – and it took place across five rounds in Dubai, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bahrain and Dubai from January through April. Grosjean won four of the 10 races to comfortably take the title, with Sebastien Buemi a distant runner-up.
Grosjean debuted in the main series in 2008 and mid-2009 was drafted in to race for Renault in Formula 1, but that foray proved brief, and for 2010 he was facing a career crossroads. Grosjean dabbled in sportscars, won the title in the short-lived AutoGP series, and returned to the GP2 Series late in the year, linking up with DAMS for a full 2011 assault.
That year began with the GP2 Asia series and the championship marked the introduction of the GP2/11 chassis that would be used through until 2017.
The season was scheduled for six races across three rounds: one in Abu Dhabi followed by two in Bahrain, with the finale running in conjunction with Formula 1’s season opener. But as the series prepared for the first Bahrain round civil unrest that was bubbling away in the Gulf state boiled over. The event was cancelled, with medics set to be present at the race weekend needed elsewhere, and eventually Formula 1’s scheduled season opener a few weeks later went the same way.
GP2 organisers hurriedly organised a replacement finale for mid-March at Imola in Italy and Grosjean overturned Jules Bianchi’s points advantage from Abu Dhabi with victory in the Feature Race.
Grosjean ultimately sealed the title in the Sprint Race, classifying a low-key seventh after rival Bianchi retired, and went on to claim the crown in the main series later in the year, securing a return to Formula 1 with Lotus in 2012.
GP2 Asia was dropped after 2011 with an expanded main series calendar instead typically incorporating rounds in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.