Razia secures Sepang feature race honours

Luiz Razia - GP2 Feature Race

Luiz Razia backed up his qualifying result by securing the first victory of the 2012 GP2 Series at Sepang. Having taken the lead at the start, the Brazilian driver didn’t look back as he secured his first victory since Monza 2009 and Arden’s first since Barcelona 2010. Completing the podium was DAMS Davide Valsecchi and Carlin’s Max Chilton. For Chilton and Carlin, it was their first GP2 podium finish.

Razia seized the advantage at the start, as Valsecchi made a poor getaway which dropped him down to fourth, behind the fast starting Fabio Leimer (Racing Engineering), who had jumped up the order from fifth to lie second, while lying third was Scuderia Coloni’s Stefano Coletti. By the end of the opening lap, Razia had opened up a two second advantage and would never be caught by his rivals.

Behind, the battle for second started to heat up and it was Coletti who was intent on moving up the order, and he made his move on Leimer before allowing Valsecchi to gain the position and on the sixth lap, Valsecchi moved back into second, 5.1s behind Razia.

Valsecchi was on a charge and he went about setting the fastest lap of the race as he chased down Razia in the Arden International car but the Brazilian driver maintained the advantage to the Italian. Leimer, on the other hand, was struggling to keep Coletti and Chilton behind him while GP3 graduate James Calado (Lotus GP) and British Formula 3 Champion Felipe Nasr (DAMS) were in close company.

Coletti was the first driver in the lead pack to make his pitstop, while Leimer and Nasr followed suit a lap later. Chilton and Calado made their stops after that while Valsecchi waiting until lap twelve, which handed second place to Calado’s Lotus GP team-mate, Esteban Gutierrez, who had worked his way up from fifteenth on the grid.

Razia pitted on lap fourteen and rejoined with a 9.7s advantage over Valsecchi, while Chilton had moved into the top three and then spent the remainder of the race defending his position from Leimer, while the battle for points and Pole Position for the second race saw Coletti, Nasr, Calado, Gutierrez, Giedo van der Garde (Caterham Racing) and Fabrizio Crestani (Venezuela GP Lazarus) all in a close battle, and Gutierrez secured seventh after Calado went wide at turn fifteen.

Rain approached the circuit and with four laps remaining, was reported at turn six. No drivers switched to the intermediate tyres and at the flag, Razia secured the victory from Valsecchi and Chilton. Rounding out the top ten was Leimer, Coletti, Nasr, Gutierrez, Calado, van der Garde and Crestani – positions three to nine were nose to tail while Crestani finished just two seconds behind.

Calado and Gutierrez form up the front row for the sprint race tomorrow, while Razia and Valsecchi will line up on the fourth row of the grid.

Pole for Valsecchi in Malaysia

Davide Valsecchi

Davide Valsecchi secured the opening Pole Position for the 2012 GP2 Series at Sepang, ensuring that the DAMS outfit continued their 2011 Championship winning form.

Joining Valsecchi on the front row is his 2011 Caterham Team Air Asia (Now named Caterham Racing) team-mate, Luiz Razia, who joined Arden International over the winter. Rounding out the top three is Max Chilton for Carlin.

Valsecchi set his Pole Position time on his third lap of the session and wasn’t beaten, but four others came close to bettering the Italians time, as the top five were covered by a tenth of a second.

The early running was set by Lotus GP’s Esteban Gutierrez, before Rodolfo Gonzalez (Caterham Racing) topped the times, beating Gutierrez’s best effort by a tenth of a second. Valsecchi soon bettered Gonzalez time and moved to the top of the times, having dipped below the 1m46 mark.

Valsecchi’s DAMS team-mate, 2011 British Formula 3 Champion Felipe Nasr soon made it a DAMS one, two but soon, Racing Engineering saw Fabio Leimer move into P2, 0.09s slower than the Italian driver.

Gonzalez brought out a yellow flag having run too wide and once the track was green again, Chilton was soon on the move and slotted into P2, closing to within 0.06s of Valsecchi, and Stefano Coletti soon put the Scuderia Coloni car into P3 as he took advantage of a clear track.

The final ten minutes saw the battle for Pole Position intensify and it was Razia who soon moved up to P2, having been fastest in the second and third sectors, and his time left him 0.6s off Valsecchi, while Chilton, Coletti and Leimer all finished within a tenth of the DAMS driver.

The top nineteen drivers were covered by 0.9s, and the top ten was completed by GP3 graduate James Calado (Lotus GP), Jolyon Palmer (iSport International), Giedo van der Garde (Caterham Racing), Fabio Onidi (Scuderia Coloni) and Nasr.

Valsecchi will face a tough fight tomorrow to secure the victory as the tyre strategy will be one to watch, as preserving the Pirelli tyres will be key to having a good race in the heat and humidity of Malaysia.

GP2 Qualifying Results:

Position Driver Team Time
1 Davide Valsecchi DAMS 1m45.494
2 Luiz Razia Arden International 1m45.554
3 Max Chilton Carlin 1m45.558
4 Stefano Coletti Scuderia Coloni 1m45.577
5 Fabio Leimer Racing Engineering 1m45.588
6 James Calado Lotus GP 1m45.638
7 Jolyon Palmer iSport International 1m45.758
8 Giedo van der Garde Caterham Racing 1m45.773
9 Fabio Onidi Scuderia Coloni 1m45.810
10 Felipe Nasr DAMS 1m45.942
11 Johnny Cecotto Barwa Addax Team 1m46.012
12 Fabrizio Crestani Venezuela GP Lazarus 1m46.138
13 Stephane Richelmi Trident Racing 1m46.150
14 Josef Kral Barwa Addax Team 1m46.160
15 Esteban Gutierrez Lotus GP 1m46.186
16 Tom Dillmann Rapax 1m46.264
17 Rio Haryanto Carlin 1m46.392
18 Nathanael Berthon Racing Engineering 1m46.428
19 Nigel Melker Ocean Racing Technology 1m46.489
20 Marcus Ericsson iSport International 1m46.557
21 Jon Lancaster Ocean Racing Technology 1m46.662
22 Julian Leal Trident Racing 1m46.868
23 Rodolfo Gonzalez Caterham Racing 1m46.962
24 Simon Trummer Arden International 1m47.004
25 Ricardo Teixeira Rapax 1m48.113
26 Giancarlo Serenelli Venezuela GP Lazarus 1m49.620

Filippi Victory Sets Up Five Way Scrap for Second at Monza.

Luca Filippi Celebrates his Second GP2 Victory of 2011.

Luca Filippi will head to Monza as one of five drivers who can end the 2011 GP2 Series as vice Champion after he secured his second victory of the season for Scuderia Coloni during the Spa Sprint race.

Rounding out the podium was Jules Bianchi (Lotus ART) and Pole Sitter, Josef Kral (Arden International) – Bianchi is another one of the five drivers who can still finish second to Champion Romain Grosjean (Dams).

As the lights went out to signal the start of the race, Kral made the perfect start to lead into La Source while moving up from P11 to second was Johnny Cecotto Jnr (Ocean Racing Technology) – the Venezuelan chose the right side of the track at the start and took P2 from Fairuz Fauzy (Super Nova Racing) on the inside of La Source. Ending the opening lap in third was Filippi, who had dispatched both Dani Clos (Racing Engineering) and Fauzy during the lap.

Kral was out in front and in control, opening up a 2.9s gap to Cecotto, who was defending with all his worth to keep hold of second from Filippi, he lost the position at Eau Rouge but Cecotto soon fought back and retook second from the Italian.

Behind the battle for second, the action was just as intense as Bianchi moved ahead of Clos at the Bus Stop Chicane; the Spaniard had just lost a position to newly crowned Champion Grosjean. Up at La Source, Bianchi made a move on Grosjean but lost out to Clos in the end, who took the opportunity to dive back ahead.

Filippi finally got ahead of Cecotto on lap seven and he was the quickest driver on the track, lapping a second faster than the race leader, Kral. The Safety Car soon made an appearance after Fabio Leimer (Rapax) lost the rear of his car at Eau Rouge and crashed heavily into the tyre barrier. Despite the damage to his car, the Swiss driver walked away unharmed.

Once the Safety car had been withdrawn, Kral led but couldn’t shake off Filippi – who then moved ahead after Eau Rouge and never looked back as he sprinted his way to his second victory of the 2011 campaign.

Behind, Cecotto was under pressure from Fauzy, Grosjean and Clos; the Ocean Racing Technology was determined to hold on to his podium spot. Fauzy was soon out on contention after running wide at La Source. This gave Cecotto some breathing space as Grosjean, Clos and Bianchi were keeping each other entertained.

Heading to Eau Rouge, the three of them ran side by side and it was Bianchi who came out on top at the bottom of Eau Rouge, before taking P3 from Cecotto at the Bus Stop chicane. He then set his sights on Kral in P2.

Soon, Cecotto had dropped a position to both Grosjean and Clos. The squabble between Clos and Cecotto saw Sam Bird (iSport International) join in the fun and soon, he was up to P5. Meanwhile, up at the front, Filippi continued to extend his lead as Bianchi secured his second runners up position of the weekend on the final lap. Soon, Grosjean was hunting down Kral but the Arden driver was able to keep the Champion behind him. This left Grosjean fourth ahead of Bird and Clos.

With his second victory of the 2011 GP2 Series, Filippi has moved up to fifth overall, just nine points off current second place driver, Giedo van der Garde (Barwa Addax Team), while Bianchi has closed to within a point of second after his brace of seconds at Spa. With twelve points covering van der Garde in second and Bird in sixth, the battle to be the 2011 GP2 vice Champion is set to be an exciting prospect at Monza.

GP2 Sprint Race Result, Spa-Francorchamps:

Position

Driver

Team

1

Luca Filippi

Scuderia Coloni

2

Jules Bianchi

Lotus ART

3

Josef Kral

Arden International

4

Romain Grosjean

Dams

5

Sam Bird

iSport International

6

Dani Clos

Racing Engineering

7

Esteban Gutierrez

Lotus ART

8

Johnny Cecotto

Ocean Racing Technology

9

Brendon Hartley

Ocean Racing Technology

10

Davide Valsecchi

Caterham Team AirAsia

11

Adam Carroll

Super Nova Racing

12

Marcus Ericsson

iSport International

13

Christian Vietoris

Racing Engineering

14

Jolyon Palmer

Arden International

15

Michael Herck

Scuderia Coloni

16

Max Chilton

Carlin

17

Rodolfo Gonzalez

Trident Racing

18

Pal Varhaug

Dams

19

Charles Pic

Barwa Addax Team

20

Giedo van der Garde

Barwa Addax Team

21

Fairuz Fauzy

Super Nova Racing

DNF

Mikhail Aleshin

Carlin

DNF

Julian Leal

Rapax

DNF

Luiz Razia

Caterham Team AirAsia

DNF

Fabio Leimer

Rapax

DNS

Stefano Coletti

Trident Racing

Picture Credit: Glenn Dunbar/GP2 Media Service

Grosjean Tops German Free Practice Times.

Romain Grosjean (Dams) During GP2 Practice at Nurburgring.

Romain Grosjean (Dams) continued his Silverstone form after topping the Free Practice session ahead of qualifying for the sixth round of the 2011 GP2 Series at Nurburgring, Germany.

The Frenchman lapped the Nurburgring in a 1:40.484s, some seven tenths of a second faster than his nearest rivals, Dani Clos (Racing Engineering) and Jules Bianchi (Lotus ART).

Grosjean set his session topping time after just ten minutes of the session, as he improved on his own laptimes to make the top spot his own and giving his rivals a challenge they were unable to respond to.

The session opened under overcast and chilly conditions but the rain held off as the twenty-six strong car field headed out on to the track. Grosjean was the first driver to set a competitive laptime with Esteban Gutierrez (Lotus ART), Clos and and Christian Vietoris (Racing Engineering) pushing hard to catch the Frenchman, until he set his best time of the session and moving over a second faster than anyone else out on track.

Grosjean’s title rival, Giedo van der Garde (Barwa Addax Team) was unable to do anything about the Frenchman after he suffered from a technical gremlin: this marked the end of the Dutchmans session, just as the rest of the field headed to the pits for a fresh set of rubber.

One driver didn’t return to the pits – Davide Valsecchi (Caterham Team AirAsia) ran wide and the final corner and found the barrier, bringing his session to an end as he tried to take advantage of the clear track.

With most of the drivers looking to sort out their race set ups, there were no improvements on lap times during the second half of the session, apart from Clos who grabbed P2 with a minute of the session remaining.

Luca Filippi (Scuderia Coloni) and Charles Pic (Barwa Addax Team) rounded out the top five; the top ten was rounded out by Gutierrez, Fabio Leimer (Rapax), Jolyon Palmer (Arden International),  Stefano Coletti (Trident Racing) and Alvaro Parente (Carlin).

Qualifying ahead of the sixth round should give a clearer indication of each driver’s pace at the Nurburgring, having kept their powder dry during the practice session.

Practice Results:

Position

Driver

Team

Laptime

1

Romain Grosjean

Dams

1m40.484s

2

Dani Clos

Racing Engineering

1m41.222s

3

Jules Bianchi

Lotus ART

1m41.326s

4

Luca Filippi

Scuderia Coloni

1m41.330s

5

Charles Pic

Barwa Addax Team

1m41.411s

6

Esteban Gutierrez

Lotus ART

1m41.426s

7

Fabio Leimer

Rapax

1m41.616s

8

Jolyon Palmer

Arden International

1m41.716s

9

Stefano Coletti

Trident Racing

1m41.748s

10

Alvaro Parente

Carlin

1m41.834s

11

Christian Vietoris

Racing Engineering

1m41.863s

12

Luiz Razia

Caterham Team AirAsia

1m41.936s

13

Sam Bird

iSport International

1m41.971s

14

Giedo van der Garde

Barwa Addax Team

1m42.049s

15

Michael Herck

Scuderia Coloni

1m42.077s

16

Kevin Mirocha

Ocean Racing Technology

1m42.213s

17

Rodolfo Gonzalez

Trident Racing

1m42.248s

18

Marcus Ericsson

iSport International

1m42.250s

19

Josef Kral

Arden International

1m42.312s

20

Fairuz Fauzy

Super Nova Racing

1m42.335s

21

Max Chilton

Carlin

1m42.380s

22

Adam Carroll

Super Nova Racing

1m42.471s

23

Davide Valsecchi

Caterham Team AirAsia

1m42.641s

24

Pal Varhaug

Dams

1m42.673s

25

Julian Leal

Rapax

1m42.927s

26

Johnny Cecotto

Ocean Racing Technology

1m43.032s

Picture Credit: GP2 Series Media Service.

Jolyon Palmer’s Penalty Disrupts Quiet Weekend at Silverstone for Arden.

Somewhere in the spray is Josef Kral - he struggled with the track conditions in the Feature Race.

Jolyon Palmer was robbed of his first top ten GP2 finish after a penalty for a mid race collision demoted the British driver to twentieth.

Having qualified just outside the top ten in eleventh, Palmer dived into the pits for slick tyres at the end of lap fourteen – the drying track causing a flurry of pit stops.

He rejoined in eleventh place but this became tenth on lap eighteen, when he found a way past Esteban Gutierrez (LotusART) – as me made the move however, there was contact and he was judged by the race stewards to have gained an unfair advantage, and with it, a thirty second time penalty. This dropped him from tenth to twentieth but his spirits hadn’t been dampened.

Palmer said: “It was an interesting race that began in very wet conditions. I held my 11th place initially and felt I was losing time behind Johnny Cecotto during the first few laps. I probably stayed out too long on wet tyres, too, which cost me a few more seconds. My pace on slicks was good, though, and I managed to pass Esteban Gutierrez. There was contact between us, but I felt it was 50/50 because he turned in on me when I was alongside. I have been penalised, though, and that means I’m in for a difficult race tomorrow.”

For team-mate Kral, he found the conditions tough and wasn’t able to make any progress from his lowly grid position, starting and finishing in twenty-second.

Kral said about race one: “I was unable to gain any places during the early stages of the race, because there was too much standing water and it was difficult to see. As the track dried my car began to understeer more and more, so I was unable to push as hard as those around me. I was one of the last drivers to pit for dry tyres, because I had to wait for Jolyon to make his stop, and that cost me a bit of time. The car felt good on slicks, but I wasn’t particularly fast and we need to run through the data this evening to understand why. I am confident that things will be better in the sprint race.”

Jolyon Palmer during the dry GP2 Sprint Race at Silverstone.

The results from Saturday’s wet feature race meant thatArdenhad both their drivers towards the back of the field ahead of the sprint race.

Both Palmer and Kral were able to make some progress up the field, Palmer recovered from twentieth to sixteenth while Kral finished twentieth having started twenty-third.

Palmer said after race two: “There isn’t a lot to say after a race like that, really. It is very hard to pass other cars at Silverstone and after a decent start I was stuck at the tail of a large midfield group. I’m sure I had the potential to run at a quicker pace, but there was no point taking unnecessary risks. Patience was the best option, but it was a race with few opportunities. There have been lots of positives this weekend, though, and I hope to convert those into a points finish at the Nürburgring.”

Kral added after the sprint race: “I made a very good start and moved up to about 17th, but then Michael Herck pushed me wide over a kerb and I lost about three positions. From that point it made sense to turn the race into a mini test session and evaluate a few settings for the Nürburgring. It has been a weekend to forget and my results have not been representative, but I am now fully focused on getting back into the points. I plan to stay inEnglandfor a few days, too, to spend a bit of time on the simulator. The next race starts here…”

Picture Credit: GP2 Series Media Service

Pic claims first win of 2010 GP2 Campaign.

Charles Pic and Arden International have taken the opening victory of the 2010 GP2 Series today at Barcelona, leading home Italian Giacomo Ricci of DPR and Spaniard Dani Clos of Racing Engineering.

Pic, who drove a sensible race to secure victory, saw his task made easier as the expected challengers all fell into problems or collisions – Ricci had started down in tenth but made a flying start to end the opening lap in third. “I had an unbelievable start! You know, you don’t think too much when you are doing a start  and I moved pretty well and then I said okay, now it’s time to run outside of the first corner and I took a big risk and it worked pretty well: I think I was pretty lucky because two or three cars crashed and I just went in the middle, and after the first corner I just went ’oh, I’m third and I started P12!’ And for the rest of the race I just tried to attack, and that’s it,” explained Ricci on his start.

Up front, Pole sitter Jules Bianchi and team mate Sam Bird struggled to get off the line and Mexican Sergio Perez took advantage. German rookie Christian Vietoris also wanted to get involved and he looked to pass Perez at Turn one: contact ensued and Vietoris spun into Bianchi, putting the pair of them out on the spot. Bird was also caught up in the mayhem and was forced over the kerbs to avoid it. He pitted at the end of lap one to replace his damaged nosecone.

With the turn one mayhem taking out a number of drivers – Pic was promoted up to second with Ricci in third. Behind the top three were pre season favourite Pastor Maldonado, Dani Clos, British rookie Oliver Turvey and Diego Van der Garde, who was soon ruled out the running after a brace of drive through penalties – one for leaving the pits too late and the other for a jump start. (Whoops…)

Up front, early race leader Perez was busy pulling away from Pic as the pit stops started – Pic pitted four laps before Perez and returned forty seconds behind Perez. Perez looked to have the race to himself before his pit stop – where a sticking rear tyre meant he dropped down to fourth place when he got back out on track.

After the pit stops, Pic was able to drive a solid, intelligent race to hold off a flying Ricci while Clos secured third from Maldonado to secure a home podium finish. Perez secured fourth, having chased down the Spaniard during the second half of the race but without any reward. The Racing Steps Foundation backed Turvey secured a solid fifth on his debut with Maldonado rounding out the top six, chased hard by team mate Luiz Razia and Fabio Leimer. A recovering Sam Bird secured ninth and the point for the races fastest lap – having completed a race full of qualifying laps to recover from his early pit stop. Turvey’s team mate at iSport International, Davide Valsecchi rounded out the top ten.

Speaking in the post race press conference, Pic said: “Very, very good! It was a great race for me, I took a good start and was a little bit lucky because there was a crash at the first corner so I was able to exit in P2, and it was a little difficult until the pit stop because [Sergio] Perez was very quick and I wasn’t able to catch him, but I think he had some problem with his pit stop so I was able to take the lead. After this I was just able to push, push very hard, and the mid race Ricci was very, very fast!

He could catch up to me very quickly, so I stayed focused and pushed as hard as I can, and at the end of the race it was a little bit better for me because I was able to keep the same gap. So it was a very good result for all the team, because they made a great effort and worked very hard over winter, so thanks to them it was great!”

DPR’s Ricci said in the press conference: “It’s a great day for me and for DPR today: I did an amazing start, and when I crossed the corner I looked and went ’oh, I’m in third!’

“I was a little bit surprised, and we took a little bit of a gamble with the set up and it worked out really well, and then when I was behind Pic I pushed like crazy to catch him, and I think I maybe went a little too aggressive on the tyres and I started to have a big understeering, especially in the last part, and then I tried to back off a little bit and then push in the last five laps, but he did a really good job, he never did a mistake, and it was really difficult for me to catch him.”

For Clos, it meant a Spanish driver on the podium for a Spanish team in the Spanish Grand Prix race weekend: “Well it’s a good way to start: I won’t say if it’s perfect but it’s a good way to start, and we will start every race from zero. Being here today doesn’t mean that it will always be like this, to be on the podium next race we will need to work hard like this, but we will do this to try to always be here.”

Race one result:

Position Number Name Nationality Team Gap
1 16 Charles Pic FRA Arden International
2 27 Giacomo Ricci ITA DPR 1.4s
3 7 Dani Clos ESP Racing Engineering 4.2s
4 4 Sergio Perez MEX Barwa Addax Team 5.1s
5 9 Oliver Turvey GBR iSport International 18.3s
6 15 Pastor Maldonado VEN Rapax 30.2s
7 14 Luiz Razia BRA Rapax 30.5s
8 19 Fabio Leimer SUI Ocean Racing Technology 34.3s
9 2 Sam Bird GBR ART Grand Prix 35.9s
10 10 Davide Valsecchi ITA iSport International 44.0s
11 6 Marcus Ericsson SWE Super Nova Racing 50.3s
12 5 Josef Kral CZE Super Nova Racing 51.6s
13 12 Ho-Pin Tung CHN DAMS 53.4s
14 20 Alberto Valerio BRA Scuderia Coloni 59.8s
15 17 Rodolfo Gonzalez VEN Arden International 66.1s
16 25 Adrian Zaugg RSA Trident Racing 66.3s
17 26 Michael Herck ROU DPR 66.6s
18 18 Max Chilton GBR Ocean Racing Technology 71.5s
19 21 Vladimir Arabadzhiev BUL Scuderia Coloni 76.2s
20 3 Giedo Van Der Garde NED Barwa Addax Team 77.1s
21 11 Jerome D’Ambrosio BEL DAMS DNF
22 1 Jules Bianchi FRA ART Grand Prix DNF
23 8 Christian Vietoris GER Racing Engineering DNF
24 24 Johnny Cecotto VEN Trident Racing DNF

All quotes used in this piece are from: http://www.gp2series.com /Race-One-Press-Conference.html

Report written from official GP2 report on www.gp2series.com