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F2 / F3000 / GP2

Formula 3000 lasted 20 seasons as the final step to Grand Prix racing before being replaced by a brash new arrival. Devised by Bernie Ecclestone and Renault team principal Flavio Briatore, GP2 was introduced in 2005 to support Formula 1's European races.

Much was new and innovative – from Dallara chassis and 4000cc V8 Renault/Mecachrome engines to the radical two-race weekend format. Saturday's "feature" race included a mandatory pitstop with the top eight finishers lining up for Sunday morning's "sprint" in reverse order.

Early reliability woes were soon fixed and Lewis Hamilton's championship success in Year Two transfixed the F1 concerti as F3000 had never done. That the Englishman then became the first second-tier champion in history to then win the F1 title further enhanced GP2's positive image. However, with budgets of £1m or more, the cost of performing at this level remained prohibitive to many an under-supported talent.

As well as the main GP2 Series, an out-of-season Asian championship was introduced in 2008. It ran for four years before its long-haul events were assimilated into an expanded single calendar. Jolyon Palmer won the 2014 GP2 title to follow his father Jonathan (1983 European F2 Champion) as the FIA’s second-tier champion – the first father and son to do so.

With the FIA keen to rationalise the single-seater pyramid, GP2 was rebranded as the FIA Formula 2 Championship in 2017.