The inaugural champion of the GP2 series was Nico Rosberg. He secured a seat with Willaims F1 and four years later joined his current team Mercedes AMG F1.
In fact in the first 7 years of GP2, the title winner gained a Formula One drive the next year, with the exception of Giorgio Pantano, who won the event in 2008.
The names of those making it through from GP2 to F1 in that era are: Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Timo Glock, Nico Hullenberg, Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado.
Yet since 2012, that automatic transition ceased.
Davide Valsecchi, Fabio Leimer and Joylon Palmer are all GP2 winners and none so far has had a regular seat in an F1 car.
For some reason this career path has stalled. Rumours have it that Bernie no longer subsidises the GP2 champion into Formula One, though of course this is unconfirmed.
GP2 winners now appear to be recruited by F1 teams who have no intention of making them a permanent driver. They get a number of FP1 outings and then are primarily engaged with the guests of the team for corporate events as a ‘driver representative’.
Jolyon Palmer is the latest to tread the F1 reserve driver ‘gopher’ mill with Lotus. That said, he appears to be getting a lot more FP1 outings than his predecessors.
However, the one GP2 champion driver who refused to play the gopher role – Fabio Leimer – yesterday accepted a contract with Manor F1 as their reserve driver.
For now he is in line behind Roberto Mehri and Will Stevens, however the former has repeatedly made it known to the media, he is unsure how long his front line driver status will remain.
Mehri si==is afflicted by a common problem in the modern Formula One. “The [my] weight is not helping so much. It affects the weight distribution on the car”, he told Autosport..
“I am 10 kilograms heavier, or something like that, so my weight distribution is much more forward compared to his car and is not helping so much.”
Merhi has in fact crash dieted since the beginning of the season, but is struggling to lose much more weight.
“Since Melbourne I have lost four or five kilos,” he said. “In Melbourne I was 14 or 15 kilos more compared to him (Will Stevens) and now I am maybe 10 or 11, something like that.
“I don’t know how much more I can afford to lose. I thought five kilograms was the limit.
“To lose another five is hard. The first two will be easy, the other three very hard, so maybe I’m just going to have to eat salad!”
Mehri has also admitted he does not bring funds to the Manor team, which is the reason why many F1 observers are scratching their heads over his selcetion.
Whilst not in the Pastor Maldonado league, Leimer is however funded reasonably well and the breaking news is he has been recruited by Manor F1 as their reserve driver.
TJ13 believes Leimer will substitute for Mehri in FP1 for one or two race weekends, and then replace the Spaniard by the time the teams head for the Hungarian GP.