Starved of opportunities in Formula 1 due to a lack of sponsors or simply a lack of available seats, an ever-increasing number of GP2 drivers have been trying their luck in the WEC in the recent past. Now it appears that the organisers of the GP2 and GP3 series have recognised the connection and are planning to run both series as warm-ups to the WEC round in Bahrain later this year.
The GP2 and GP3 calendars essentially follow the Formula 1 circus, with all rounds of both series taking place at Formula 1 race weekends. However, Formula 1 organisers changed their plans by cancelling the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring without replacement. Whereas the Formula 1 paddock may be somewhat relieved to have once race fewer on the calendar, for GP2 and GP3 the loss of one round is a major issue. Due to the fact that the costs of travelling to another of F1’s flyaway races are too high, the organisers of the junior series have been forced to look elsewhere.
It appears as if the WEC calendar is the perfect fit. The finales of the GP2 and GP3 seasons will both be held at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi on the same weekend as the final F1 race of the season, and so the WEC race at Bahrain one week before seems to be the perfect opportunity for GP2 and GP3 to catch up on their missing race. The desert tracks is already used by both GP2 and GP3 for pre-season testing, and GP2 joined Formula 1 there already earlier this season. This means that drivers will already be familiar with the track and, given that the teams will be making their way to the Middle East for the season finale anyway, another race in Bahrain is not set to break the bank.
For the WEC, this change in plans can only be of benefit. It will race the attractiveness of the WEC’s own season finale and is just a continuation of the ACO’s desire to partner up with regional series such as Formula 3, the European Le Mans Series, the Asian Le Mans Series and the Tudor United Sportscar Championship to offer fans a greater range of racing action across a race weekend. This decision marks the first time that a truly global series will support a WEC race weekend. An official announcement is expected in the coming weeks. It remains to be seen whether this partnership between GP2 and GP3 and the WEC is a one-off or a more regular commitment.