Four races remain in this season’s superb GP2 series which has been primarily a fight between former team mates Jolyon Palmer and Felipe Nasr. In recent races, Stoffel Vandoorne has thrown his name into the hat as well. 96 points remain available across the final four races, two at the brand new Sochi Autodrom and two just before the conclusion of the Formula One season at Abu Dhabi. Nine different drivers have won races this season already across the 18 races that we have had so far, but it is the consistent points scoring and podiums which leaves Palmer, Nasr and Vandoorne all in with a shout at emulating the likes of Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Romain Grosjean and Nico Hülkenberg as GP2 series champions.
Here are your three 2014 GP2 Series title contenders:
Jolyon Palmer (GBR) – DAMS – 231 points – 3 wins
Palmer, aged 23 and son of Jonathan Palmer is in his fourth season in this category but should he be victorious that should take nothing away from the achievement. He has so far taken sprint race victories at Bahrain and at Monza and dominated at Monaco to take victory in the feature race there. Seven other podiums and scoring points in every single race has given Palmer a very strong lead in the championship, but he went 12 races without winning in the middle of the season, almost seeming as if he is trying to cruise to the title, although that was not the case at Monza where he went from dead last (after being excluded from qualifying due to no fault of his own) to eighth to take reverse grid pole, which he converted into victory. I reckon that it will be incredibly tough for Palmer to lose it at this point given his supreme consistency – even when he has a bad day; he picks up a decent haul of points.
Felipe Nasr (BRA) – Carlin – 190 points – 4 wins
I always had an issue with now Williams reserve driver Nasr prior to this season which seemed to bug me and that was his inability to win at this particular level. Prior to this year the 22-year-old had achieved ten podiums in GP2 but never a win. He has certainly righted that this year as he has taken more wins than anybody this season: three sprint race wins and a feature race win at Austria. However, failing to make it past the first lap at Monaco and no further than lap 3 in Austria (both sprint races) have not helped his title challenge, as well as poor weekends in Hungary and in Italy where he should have really capitalised on Palmer’s misfortune more. The two have also argued over the same piece of tarmac frequently and usually Nasr comes off worse.
Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) – ART – 164 points – 3 wins
No driver has scored more points over the last ten races than Stoffel Vandoorne. Unfortunately though for McLaren’s young driver, a run of five pointless races, not all of which were his fault leaves the Belgian playing catch-up. Given the huge gap to Palmer – 67 points to be precise, the chances are that 22-year-old Vandoorne will not be able to fight for the title into Abu Dhabi, but given his form, it cannot be ruled out. His win in his very first GP2 race was supreme and he took further wins in the Hungary Sprint race and again at the Monza Feature race. One thing that should be taken into account too is that Vandoorne is in his first season in this series, whereas Nasr and Palmer are in their third and fourth years respectively – making the fact that he has a shout at the title at this stage even more impressive.
If you want my tip for the 2014 GP2 Series Champion, I’d put my money on Palmer, but all three are ready to step up into Formula One or another top level of motorsports. Formula One looks unlikely for all three, but there is no reason why anybody should question whether they are good enough or not. Getting into Formula One is a very difficult task, so it looks as if America or the World Endurance Championship are two of the only really feasible options for all of them at the moment.
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