It will be very interesting to see Ocon v Wehrlein at Manor. Ocon was smart by racing full-time in DTM whilst he fulfilled his F1 testing duties. This compares to many junior single seater champions who have signed as third drivers but rarely get to drive. Wehrlein didnít exactly dominate Haryanto like people had expected, his new teammate will be a test of Mercedesí investment in him. Many people wonít agree with this, but GP2 is no longer a great proving ground for F1 hopefuls. Despite the fragility of the F1 tyres and the temptation for GP2 to mirror what happens in F1, paddock figures want to know who has the ultimate raw speed Ė not who can be most economical with a set of tyres.
Verstappen, Ocon, Ricciardo and others skipped GP2 and it hasnít harmed them. GP2 hasnít produced an absolute stand-out champion for years now, with the exception of Vandoorne. This isnít to say that GP2 isnít entertaining, it most certainly is. Indeed, GP2 has produced some great racing in the Pirelli era, but nobody looks at tyre saving to gauge the next potential F1 champion. Verstappen had never experienced so much tyre-saving as when he arrived to F1, but he adapted. Can a driver adapt to being fast? If a driver is bloody fast, the rest can fall in place. Note how Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel have adapted to the techniques of the peaky Pirelliís, but they still have devastating raw speed when needed.
I recall the praise that GP2 received when it replaced F3000, and rightly so. It was a new championship with vastly quicker cars, and apart from F1, there was nothing quicker around a road course. This gave it credibility; if you could cut it in those cars on those tyres, it would attract the attention of F1 teams. At present drivers have to conserve tyres massively, therefore the drivers never reach the peak performance of the car, itís far worse than the degradation seen in F1. GP2 never had a great problem with overtaking, especially when they ditched grooved tyres for slicks in 2006.
Strange as this might sound, GP2 needs to become a bit more boring to regain the credibility it once had for showing the fastest drivers who are suitable for F1. That would mean an end to someone losing their tyres and losing multiple positions in one lap, but the racing in the early years of GP2 was still fantastic because fundamentally, the lesser downforce meant it was easier to follow a car compared to F1. GP2 still has a great car with great technical stability, but the super-fragile tyres need to be ditched.
In terms of the vacant DTM seat, Felix Rosenqvist has been doing great things in Europe and in America and the Indy Lights championship. It will be interesting to see how he performs in the super-competitive arena that is DTM.
With Ocon, Renault must surely be looking at him to fill one their F1 seats for 2017. To give Jolyan Palmer the benefit of the doubt, heís been driving an unpredictable-handling car to date. It looks like an adventure for both drivers. Saying that, Magnussen has simply been quicker where it matters. Spinning out of a points-paying position in Hungary was a decisive moment for Palmer, but he has built up an unfortunate picture of generally being outpaced by Magnussen.