Baku and Sepang on GP2 Series' F1-supporting 2016 calendar

The GP2 Series will support Formula 1's inaugural grand prix in Baku and make its first Sepang appearance since 2013 this year

Baku and Sepang on GP2 Series' F1-supporting 2016 calendar

The F1 feeder championship's long-awaited 2016 calendar was announced on Friday morning.

For the first time in five years, the season will begin in Europe, as GP2 opens on the Spanish GP bill at Barcelona in mid-May.

It then stays with F1 for all the championship's European dates, including the new Baku street race in Azerbaijan.

After the end of F1's European swing, GP2 rejoins it for two further rounds alongside the Malaysian and Abu Dhabi GPs.

Sepang was once a regular fixture on the GP2 calendar, either with its Asia series or the main championship, but has not hosted the championship for three seasons.

There will not be any GP2 rounds in Bahrain this year. Last season it raced at Sakhir both on the F1 support bill in April and in an additional event alongside the World Endurance Championship in November to make up for the round lost to the cancellation of the German GP.

The Russian event at Sochi is the other departure from the schedule.

GP2 CEO Bruno Michel said the aim of the calendar had been to control costs and maximise learning opportunities for its F1 aspirant field.

"Working on this season's events, we paid close attention to costs control in order to help our teams maintain a sustainable economic model," he said.

"I believe we have reached the perfect balance and our drivers will be able to learn as many F1 tracks as possible in front of the F1 paddock."

This year's GP2 title battle is expected to be hotly-contested, with race-winners Sergey Sirotkin, Nobuharu Matsushita, Alex Lynn, Mitch Evans, Raffaele Marciello and Arthur Pic all returning.

Newcomers include Formula Renault 3.5 champion Oliver Rowland - who starred on a handful of GP2 outings last year - GP3 runner-up Luca Ghiotto and European Formula 3 runner-up Antonio Giovinazzi.

Manor F1 test driver Jordan King and Red Bull junior Pierre Gasly also stay on for second year.

There are two pre-season tests, starting at Barcelona next week and concluding at Jerez at the end of March.

2016 GP2 CALENDAR

May 13-15: Barcelona
May 26-28: Monte Carlo
June 17-19: Baku
July 1-3: Red Bull Ring
July 8-10: Silverstone
July 22-24: Hungaroring
July 29-31: Hockenheim
August 26-28: Spa-Francorchamps
September 2-4: Monza
September 31-October 2: Sepang
November 25-27: Yas Marina

CONFIRMED GP2 DRIVERS SO FAR

ART Grand Prix: Sergey Sirotkin, Nobuharu Matsushita
Racing Engineering: Jordan King, Norman Nato
DAMS: Alex Lynn, Nicholas Latifi
Campos: Mitch Evans, Sean Gelael
Russian Time: Raffaele Marciello, Artem Markelov
Rapax: Arthur Pic, Gustav Malja
Trident: Luca Ghiotto, Philo Paz Armand
Status Grand Prix: TBA
Carlin:
TBA
MP Motorsport:
Oliver Rowland, Daniel de Jong
Arden: TBA
Prema Powerteam:
Antonio Giovinazzi, Pierre Gasly


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