The ninth season of the GP2 Series – which is made of eleven rounds this year - kicks off this weekend in Malaysia at the 5.543km long Sepang International Circuit. It’s the second time that the Series visit this track with the GP2/11 car and if last year is any indication of the level of racing you can expect on this circuit, you can bet Round 1 promises to live up to the high standards expected from a Series that has bred ten current Formula One drivers!
The opening round of the 2013 season sees six rookies join the field, including 2012 GP3 Series Champion Mitch Evans (Arden International) and Vice Champion Daniel Abt (ART Grand Prix), but also Ma Qing Hua (Caterham Racing), Conor Daly (Hilmer Motorsport), Kevin Giovesi (Venezuela GP Lazarus) and Adrian Quaife-Hobbs (MP Motorsport).
Three teams join the field: MP Motorsport, Hilmer Motorsport and RUSSIAN TIME.
The Malaysian circuit is one of the most demanding of the season with unpredictable weather, high temperatures and extreme humidity. It puts the drivers, the cars and of course the tyres to the test. The track surface at Sepang is abrasive and very high energy loads are put through the tyres, making it immensely demanding both in terms of wear and degradation.
Pirelli have nominated the P Zero Orange hard tyre and P Zero Yellow soft tyre for the weekend.
Pirelli’s racing manager Mario Isola said: “We’ve changed the compounds and the construction of the GP2 tyres this year to reflect the characteristics of our new Formula One tyres, which offer more performance and deliberately increased degradation. There is also a bigger performance gap between the GP2 compounds, which opens up more possibilities for strategy. This not only adds to the spectacle of the races and encourages overtaking, but it also helps the drivers to learn more about tyre management: an essential skill at the very top of the sport, where all the GP2 drivers want to end up.