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Valsecchi secures GP2 Series crown

by Peter Allen

Photo: GP2 Media Service

Series veteran wraps up F1 feeder series title with a race to spare after a fourth-place finish in the Singapore feature race…

Davide Valsecchi has become the eighth ever champion in the GP2 Series following the feature race at the season finale in Singapore. A fourth place finish was enough to put him out of reach of his season-long rival Luiz Razia who finished just behind him in fifth.

After three uninspiring seasons in Formula Renault 2.0 in Italy, Valsecchi moved up to the Formula Renault 3.5 Series in 2006. He was more impressive in the faster machinery, finishing tenth in the standings with a pole position on his first weekend and two subsequent podiums. In 2007 he slipped back to 16th in the points, although he did get a win at the Nurburgring.

Next he stepped up to GP2 for 2008 with the Durango team. After coming eighth in the Asia Series, his main season was disrupted by a high-speed qualifying accident in only the second weekend that kept him out for three rounds. He finished the year strongly with a reverse grid win on home soil at Monza that left him 15th in the final standings. He remained with Durango for 2009, coming fourth in the 2008-09 Asia Series with a win in China. He was on the main series podium in Turkey, but switched to Addax mid-season to replace F1-bound fellow Renault Development Driver Romain Grosjean at Addax. He finished the year 17th.

After switching to iSport he dominated the 2009-10 Asia Series, but failed to repeat that form, not winning until the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi and ending the year eighth in the championship behind rookie teammate Oliver Turvey. 2011 saw a switch to AirAsia as he took up a role with Team Lotus in F1 (now Caterham). He was in the hunt for the title during the first half of the season with a win in Monaco but failed to score any points from Silverstone onwards and fell to eighth again. He came back for a fifth season with top squad DAMS in 2012 and was imperious in Bahrain, winning three of the four races. He did however fail to win any more races until Monza, when he regained control of the points lead heading to Singapore.

All of the previous GP2 champions except fellow Italian veteran Giorgio Pantano have gone on to F1. Valsecchi will be helped thanks to backing from his father Fiorenzo who runs the Ediltecnica construction firm and has funded his son’s lengthy GP2 career. However, it remains to be seen how many teams will be interested in his services. HRT, for whom he impressed in a test at the end of 2010, is an option but he will need to outbid the other contenders. With a number of well-funded options, it’s not clear that better teams will be interested. His title success should give him an advantage over Razia, however.