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Points for Caterham Racing in Opening round

Giedo van der Garde brought home his Caterham Racing GP2 car to ninth place and two points in the opening round of the 2012 GP2 Series in Sepang, Malaysia. The Dutchman just missed out on the grid switch for the second race.

For van der Garde, the result of ninth was all the more impressive having dropped down the field to sixteenth position on the opening lap, but he worked his way up the order to finish ninth, but with a limited amount of life left in his tyres.

Speaking after the race, van der Garde said: “I had an issue at the start of the race and didn’t get off the grid as quickly as I had hoped. By the end of lap one I was down about eight positions but after that I found my pace and was able to challenge and put some good passing moves on the cars ahead. We were really fast early on, and again after the pit stop, but towards the end of the race the rear tyre grip went off and we were struggling a bit. We can learn from that and know what we have to do tomorrow so the aim is to keep pushing and build on our first points of 2012.”

Caterham Racing team-mate Rodolfo Gonzalez showed promise during the early stages of the race before seeing his race end prematurely on lap thirteen, after contact with another driver damaged his car.

Gonzalez said about his race: “I made a really good start and by turn four I had made up ten places and was running midfield, right in there amongst Ericsson and Giedo. Unfortunately I made contact with Ericsson which caused some problems and I dropped back. I managed to pick up the pace again but it wasn’t long before I was forced to end my race early. The positives are that I raced well, the car felt more consistent than in testing and I was keeping up with strong competitors and overtaking cars, which is all very encouraging.

“One of the key aspects of motor racing is precision, especially during qualifying on the 2012 Pirelli tyres. I want to work on ensuring I always qualify well and if I can continue to get good starts I am confident I can fight to finish in the points.”

Pleasing qualifying for Caterham Racing

Giedo van der Garde

Caterham Racing enjoyed a pleasing qualifying session ahead of the opening round of the 2012 GP2 Series at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia, as Giedo van der Garde finished within two tenths of the Pole Position time in eighth.

For Caterham Racing team Manager, Phill Spencer, he is pleased with how the session went: “From the team’s perspective everything very went well today. We looked sharp on track and everyone worked hard to help us enjoy a decent start to our season. The race tomorrow looks like it is going to be very exciting – the top ten cars are covered by less than a second and attention to detail will be key to making sure we have a strong race.

“We have one car in the top ten and the other towards the back of the grid. Giedo showed how valuable his experience and outright pace will be this year in helping us achieve our targets. Rodolfo had a couple of issues on his quickest laps, but we have a good race strategy for both cars, so I am looking forward to getting out there and taking some points. A podium finish is definitely not out of the question.”

Van der Garde explains his qualifying session: “We stuck to our strategy today and went out and did two runs, using both tyre compounds. My first run didn’t go as well as we had hoped – we couldn’t find the performance on the hard compound so we came in, changed to the medium tyres and I did my fastest lap. To be honest it was not ideal. I made a small mistake which probably cost us two tenths, but overall it was good enough to finish in the top eight.

“Now we have some work ahead of us to make sure we have the right setup for tomorrow’s race. I am confident the team will give me a good race car and from eighth on the grid the aim is to work our way up and hopefully finish on the podium.”

Team-mate Rodolfo Gonzalez finished the session outside the top twenty after a qualifying session which saw both of his flying laps hampered by traffic. He wound up twenty-third fastest, having set a 1m46.962.

He feels that he can push for the top ten tomorrow with a good tyre strategy: “The car was very competitive today but I had traffic on each of my fastest laps which is a real shame. Despite that I feel confident with the car and I know we have a good strategy to help us have a good race tomorrow and if I can manage my tyres well we can certainly try for a points finish.”

Humphrey Corbett, Caterham Racing Chief Engineer isn’t concerned with the result in qualifying due to the closeness of the times: “The times today were incredibly close, so although we were hoping to be further up the field, with Giedo just over a tenth off the quickest time in P8 I am not overly concerned about where we ended up. He did not get a perfect lap but the pace was there so come tomorrow I am confident he can work his way through to the front of the field and have a strong race. During the recent tests we saw we have good pace over the long runs and I am happy with the race strategy we have been working on. We are still learning about the new tyres – there doesn’t seem to be much difference between the two compounds here, but both Giedo and Rodolfo seem happy with their cars and we know what to do to give us the sort of race we want to see tomorrow.

“Another very pleasing observation from today is to see just how well the whole team is working. The engineers are doing a very good job and the mechanics are working hard in the testing conditions. Both cars ran faultlessly today so I am very happy with our overall performance and I am looking forward to carrying that through to the race tomorrow and the rest of the weekend.”

Monza sees Filippi Secure Home Victory.

Luca Filippi delighted the Monza crowd as he brought home his Scuderia Coloni car home first to secure a home victory for him and the team. Filippi, one of five drivers in contention for the Vice Champion position blew past Pole sitter Charles Pic (Barwa Addax Team) to lead home the Frenchman and the 2011 GP2 Champion, Romain Grosjean (Dams).

Filippi made the best start as the lights went out as Pic was unable to take advantage of the clean side of the grid, and he had to fend off the attentions of Alvaro Parente (Carlin), Grosjean, Adam Carroll (Super Nova Racing) and Fabio Leimer (Rapax) as they made their way down to the first chicane.

The Italian driver saw setting the pace as he set a string of fastest laps, knowing that the best way to secure a home victory was to open up as big a gap as possible, while Pic continued to look in his mirrors as a train of GP2 rivals built up behind him.

Pic, Grosjean, Carroll, Leimer and Sam Bird (iSport International) all pitted together on lap twelve, and the fast recovering Bird made up another two positions during the pit stops, and this became three when Parente was given a drive through penalty for an unsafe release.

Two laps later and Filippi pitted to cover the earlier stops and he came out ahead of his rivals. He soon set about chasing down the fastest lap of the race to help with his quest of securing the Vice Champion honours and with five laps remaining, he secured the fastest lap of the race, despite the best efforts of Grosjean behind.

When the flag was dropped to mark the end of the race, the grandstand erupted with joy as they celebrated a home victory for Filippi, his first home victory in GP2. Pic held off Grosjean by 0.6s at the flag to secure second. Bird made the most of his race as he recovered from ninth to fourth. Carroll finished fifth, ahead of Christian Vietoris (Racing Engineering), Leimer and Jules Bianchi (Lotus ART) – the latter securing Pole Position for tomorrow’s sprint race ahead of the Vice Champion showdown.

Four drivers head into the final race of the season with a chance of finishing second behind Champion Grosjean. Pic leads the way with 52 points, with Filippi a single point behind. Bianchi and Giedo van der Garde (Barwa Addax Team) head into the sprint race tomorrow two points behind Filippi.

Barwa Addax Team has all but wrapped up the honours in the Teams’ Championship as they sit on 101 points to the 89 points of Dams.

Monza GP2 Feature Race Result:

Position

Driver

Team

1

Luca Filippi

Scuderia Coloni

2

Charles Pic

Barwa Addax Team

3

Romain Grosjean

Dams

4

Sam Bird

iSport International

5

Adam Carroll

Super Nova Racing

6

Christian Vietoris

Racing Engineering

7

Fabio Leimer

Rapax

8

Jules Bianchi

Lotus ART

9

Esteban Gutierrez

Lotus ART

10

Luiz Razia

Caterham Team AirAsia

11

Pal Varhaug

Dams

12

Alvaro Parente

Carlin

13

Dani Clos

Racing Engineering

14

Marcus Ericsson

iSport International

15

Stephane Richelmi

Trident Racing

16

Julian Leal

Rapax

17

Johnny Cecotto

Ocean Racing Technology

18

Fairuz Fauzy

Super Nova Racing

19

Rodolfo Gonzalez

Trident Racing

20

Davide Valsecchi

Caterham Team AirAsia

21

Giedo van der Garde

Barwa Addax Team

22

Brendon Hartley

Ocean Racing Technology

DNF

Max Chilton

Carlin

DNF

Josef Kral

Arden International

DNF

Jolyon Palmer

Arden International

DNF

Michael Herck

Scuderia Coloni

Pic on Pole for 2011 GP2 Vice Champion.

Charles Pic (Barwa Addax Team) has boosted his chances of finishing the 2011 GP2 Series as the Vice Champion after securing his third Pole Position of the season, having seen off the attentions of local hero and fellow Vice Champion contender Luca Filippi (Scuderia Coloni) while Fabio Leimer (Rapax) rounded out the top three after a scorching qualifying session at Monza.

Pic topped the final qualifying session of the season with a 1:32.349 to secure Pole Position, a time which he set after just seven minutes. At the flag, nineteen drivers were within a second of Pic’s time but none of them could better the time set early into the session.

Having finished P2 in the previous three qualifying sessions, Filippi was determined to not finish second at Monza and he was soon on top of the times. His time was soon beaten by Leimer and then newly crowned Champion Romain Grosjean (Dams) but the Italian wasn’t going to give in and soon set a time which looked good enough for pole… Pic, however, had other ideas.

Once Pic was back on top, it appeared that Filippi was going to bounce back on his next flying lap – that was until Esteban Gutierrez (Lotus ART) binned it at the Ascari complex and went into the barrier backwards, the fight was over.

Filippi was forced to back off due to the Gutierrez incident and that was that. Grosjean, Leimer and the returning Alvaro Parente (Carlin) all went wide as the searched for that extra bit of speed and time during the closing minutes but the damage had been done and Pic was able to celebrate.

Parente and Grosjean completed the Monza qualifying top five, while Dani Clos (Racing Engineering), Christian Vietoris (Racing Engineering), Adam Carroll (Super Nova Racing), Sam Bird (iSport International) and Max Chilton (Carlin) completed the top ten.

GP2 Vice Champion contenders Giedo van der Garde (Barwa Addax Team) and Jules Bianchi (Lotus ART) both face uphill tasks after they were only able to finish nineteenth and twentieth fastest at Monza.

All of this will mean that the final GP2 feature race of the 2011 campaign will be a corker – with two contenders for Vice Champion up at the front while the other two starting back on row ten – the race is set up for fireworks.

GP2 Monza Qualifying Result:

Position

Driver

Team

1

Charles Pic

Barwa Addax Team

2

Luca Filippi

Scuderia Coloni

3

Fabio Leimer

Rapax

4

Alvaro Parente

Carlin

5

Romain Grosjean

Dams

6

Dani Clos

Racing Engineering

7

Christian Vietoris

Racing Engineering

8

Adam Carroll

Super Nova Racing

9

Sam Bird

iSport International

10

Max Chilton

Carlin

11

Jolyon Palmer

Arden International

12

Josef Kral

Arden International

13

Michael Herck

Scuderia Coloni

14

Davide Valsecchi

Caterham Team AirAsia

15

Marcus Ericsson

iSport International

16

Rodolfo Gonzalez

Trident Racing

17

Brendon Hartley

Ocean Racing Technology

18

Luiz Razia

Caterham Team AirAsia

19

Jules Bianchi

Lotus ART

20

Giedo van der Garde

Barwa Addax Team

21

Fairuz Fauzy

Super Nova Racing

22

Johnny Cecotto

Ocean Racing Technology

23

Julian Leal

Rapax

24

Stephane Richelmi

Trident Racing

25

Esteban Gutierrez

Lotus ART

26

Pal Varhaug

Dams

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

Vietoris Wins as Grosjean is Crowned GP2 Champion.

Christian Vietoris Celebrates his first GP2 Victory of 2011.

Romain Grosjean (Dams) has been crowned GP2 Series Champion for 2011 as Christian Vietoris (Racing Engineering) secured the victory amid chaotic scenes at Spa-Francorchamps.

German Vietoris drove a faultless race to secure his first victory of the 2011 GP2 Series season ahead of Jules Bianchi (Lotus ART) and Grosjean, while front row starter Luca Filippi (Scuderia Coloni) finished fourth from second on the grid.

At the start of the twenty five lap Feature race, the track was dry and Vietoris made the perfect getaway from Pole Position and then set about building up a two second advantage over Bianchi, who had got ahead of Filippi at the start.

Having started seventh, Grosjean soon found himself third and with it, the path to title glory wide open as his nearest rival, Giedo van der Garde (Barwa Addax Team) had been pushed off the track at La Source and down to last position.

The weather forecast for the Ardennes Forest circuit had announced that there would be rain and the teams opted to stay out on track for as long as they dare before swapping on to the wet tyres.

Lap thirteen saw the pit stops commence as some of the drivers from the rear of the field stopped first as the rain started to fall – the leaders then all pitted and switched to the wet’s and rejoined the race in the same order. Just after that, the Safety car was deployed after Julien Leal (Rapax) spun out and stopped at the top of Eau Rouge.

A few seconds later and there was more drama as Stefano Coletti (Trident Racing) collided with the slow Mikhail Aleshin (Carlin). This collision saw the Safety Car stay out as the Monaco based driver received medical attention.

Once the track had been cleared, the race became a one lap sprint and Vietoris made a clean restart to lead from Bianchi and Grosjean.

The battle for eighth and Pole Position for the Sprint race was intense as Johnny Cecotto Jnr (Ocean Racing Technology) and Fairuz Fauzy (Super Nova Racing) battled – Cecotto Jnr eventually passed Fauzy before slowing coming out of the bus stop chicane and ended up eleventh, while Fauzy ended up with Pole Position.

At the chequered flag, Vietoris celebrated his first victory of the 2011 GP2 Season ahead of Bianchi while Grosjean celebrated the GP2 title, following in the footsteps of Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Timo Glock, Giorgio Pantano, Nico Hulkenburg and Pastor Maldonado.

Spa-Francorchamps GP2 Feature Race Results:

Position

Driver

Team

1

Christian Vietoris

Racing Engineering

2

Jules Bianchi

Lotus ART

3

Romain Grosjean

Dams

4

Luca Filippi

Scuderia Coloni

5

Brendon Hartley

Ocean Racing Technology

6

Dani Clos

Racing Engineering

7

Josef Kral

Arden International

8

Fairuz Fauzy

Super Nova Racing

9

Adam Carroll

Super Nova Racing

10

Davide Valsecchi

Caterham Team AirAsia

11

Johnny Cecotto

Ocean Racing Technology

12

Sam Bird

iSport International

13

Pal Varhaug

Dams

14

Esteban Gutierrez

Lotus ART

15

Max Chilton

Carlin

16

Michael Herck

Scuderia Coloni

DNF

Marcus Ericsson

iSport International

DNF

Giedo van der Garde

Barwa Addax Team

DNF

Rodolfo Gonzalez

Trident Racing

DNF

Jolyon Palmer

Arden International

DNF

Mikhail Aleshin

Carlin

DNF

Stefano Coletti

Trident Racing

DNF

Julian Leal

Rapax

DNF

Fabio Leimer

Rapax

DNF

Luiz Razia

Caterham Team AirAsia

DNF

Charles Pic

Barwa Addax Team

Vietoris Tops Wet Spa Qualifying.

Christian Vietoris Celebrates his Spa Pole Position.

Christian Vietoris (Racing Engineering) made a strong impression in qualifying ahead of tomorrow’s GP2 Feature Race at Spa-Francorchamps, after he came out on top in a wet qualifying session, some 1.4s faster than nearest rival, Luca Filippi (Scuderia Coloni).

German Vietoris set his fastest time on his final lap of the wet qualifying session and on difficult track conditions.

As the session went live for the GP2 field to start their thirty minute qualifying session, the rain was still falling over the Ardennes Forest circuit, and this meant that the opening laps of the session were tricky with the spray being kicked up by all of the drivers, as well as struggling to stay within the track limits.

Vietoris was quickly up to speed in the conditions and he soon went top of the times, before being replaced by Champion Elect, Romain Grosjean (Dams) – who had bettered Vietoris time by 0.1s. Filippi soon joined in the battle as did Marcus Ericsson (iSport International). Vietoris retook top spot at the half way point of the session, just as Ericsson’s team-mate, Sam Bird (iSport International) lost control at Turn six, which brought his session to a premature end.

As the session progressed, certain parts of the 7 kilometre track started to dry up but the entire field remained on wet tyres. Adam Carroll (Super Nova Racing) moved into P2 before Charles Pic (Barwa Addax Team) found some additional speed to better the time set by Vietoris by 0.6s – just as the German started his final run.

Heading into the final two minutes of the session, it was Filippi who jumped to the top of the times, bettering the time set by Pic by 0.2s. The Frenchman then slowed down and stopped at T17, bringing out the yellow flags – as Vietoris and Filippi were both on flying laps, with the German setting fastest times in sectors one and two.

Vietoris eventually took the chequered flag and set his best time of the session, some 1.4s faster than his Italian rival. Pic finished the session third, ahead of Jules Bianchi (Lotus ART), Michael Herck (Scuderia Coloni), Ericsson and Carroll.

Championship contenders Grosjean and Giedo van der Garde (Barwa Addax Team) had a more complicated session. Grosjean lines up P8 while van der Garde, who has to outscore Grosjean to keep his title hopes alive, lines up P11.

Position

Driver

Team

Time

1

Christian Vietoris

Racing Engineering

2m18.345

2

Luca Filippi

Scuderia Coloni

2m19.779

3

Charles Pic

Barwa Addax Team

2m20.056

4

Jules Bianchi

Lotus ART

2m20.211

5

Michael Herck

Scuderia Coloni

2m20.748

6

Marcus Ericsson

iSport International

2m20.858

7

Adam Carroll

Super Nova Racing

2m21.491

8

Romain Grosjean

Dams

2m21.715

9

Johnny Cecotto

Ocean Racing Technology

2m21.753

10

Esteban Gutierrez

Lotus ART

2m21.877

11

Giedo van der Garde

Barwa Addax Team

2m21.956

12

Brendon Hartley

Ocean Racing Technology

2m22.145

13

Dani Clos

Racing Engineering

2m22.254

14

Fairuz Fauzy

Super Nova Racing

2m22.299

15

Mikhail Aleshin

Carlin

2m22.326

16

Josef Kral

Arden International

2m22.346

17

Max Chilton

Carlin

2m22.573

18

Fabio Leimer

Rapax

2m22.623

19

Rodolfo Gonzalez

Trident Racing

2m22.655

20

Luiz Razia

Caterham Team AirAsia

2m22.895

21

Davide Valsecchi

Caterham Team AirAsia

2m23.364

22

Sam Bird

iSport International

2m23.365

23

Jolyon Palmer

Arden International

2m23.495

24

Pal Varhaug

Dams

2m23.830

25

Stefano Coletti

Trident Racing

2m24.272

26

Julian Leal

Rapax

2m24.832

Picture Credit: GP2 Series Media.

Grosjean – GP2 Champion Elect?

GP2 Pitlane from Eau Rouge Corner.

Romain Grosjean heads to Spa-Francorchamps knowing that he could leave the Ardennes Forest circuit with the 2011 GP2 Series title in his pocket. Arriving in Belgium, the Frenchman has a twenty five point cushion to his nearest Championship rival, Giedo van der Garde from Barwa Addax Team.

With a maximum of forty points to play for at Spa and the season finale at Monza, any of the top five drivers still have a chance of securing the glory, though it is conceivable that Jules Bianchi (Lotus ART) and Sam Bird (iSport International) will be out of the running after the first race, or potentially qualifying if Grosjean secures Pole Position.

For van der Garde to have any chance of securing the honours this season, he will have to drive at maximum attack as well as securing his first victory of the season.

Last time out at Hungaroring, three weeks ago, Pole Position fell the way of Luiz Razia, the Caterham Team AirAsia driver securing his team their first GP2 Series Pole Position before Grosjean secured his fifth victory of the season.

Grosjean said about his Feature race victory: “It’s super! The team did a great job. I knew the car was very quick, and I was also able to gain a place thanks to the pit stop. I’m really happy. We’ve got a good lead in the championship, and I’ll do my best to consolidate it tomorrow before the August holiday break.”

Securing the honours in the Sprint race was Trident’s Stefano Coletti – a correct tyre choice in the wet/dry/wet race saw the Monaco driver come from twenty first on the grid to secure the victory.

Coletti said about his victory at Hungary: “This morning I opened up my window and when I saw the rain falling I thought “If it’s not a hurricane I’m definitely gonna take-off on slicks, it’s the only chance to get some spots back”. And right at the start, I decided to stick with that idea, despite there were some wet patches and slicks were quite a risk. In the first few laps it’s been a nightmare because it was so slippery and I even ended up spinning.  Then the situation improved dramatically and I found myself lapping faster than anybody else. I even moved from 14th to 6th in one lap! We continued to recover up to the lead, and when we went to rain tires I felt that the situation was pretty much under control. I think it’s been a great day for me and the team. Definitely a win to remember!”

After a well deserved summer break, the teams’ and drivers’ reconvene at one of the true driver circuits in F1, the seven kilometre Spa-Francorchamps circuit. Set in the heart of the Ardennes Forest, the first challenge that the teams will have to overcome is the unpredictable weather.

Spa itself has a mixture of corners – going from the fast, flat out Eau Rouge and Blachimont corners to the slow, tight Bus Stop Chicane and the La Source hairpin.

The other challenges which the teams will face is the tyres, with Pirelli supplying their medium compound tyre this weekend, and as Mario Isola commented, the reason for the choice is tyres is their flexibility: “The P Zero GP2 tyres in medium compound specification are versatile tyres designed to work well in a wide range of conditions. This makes them well suited to circuits with varying characteristics such as Spa-Francorchamps. Being easily adaptable, they can be used at hot and technical tracks as well as at much cooler or even damp circuits: making them a perfect choice for Belgium because of the weather, which is quite unpredictable. It will be interesting to see which strategies the drivers will put in place and how the tyres will perform under changeable weather and mixed track conditions, should some sections be dry and others wet during the races.

Isola continued: “Adding to the challenge of the weather will be the extremely high vertical loads which put heavy demands on the rubber: probably the heaviest of the racing calendar. This is true especially when tackling the Eau Rouge and Raidillon combination, which requires a large amount of ability from the driver to successfully negotiate while resulting in high compression levels for the tyres. Our medium slicks will provide drivers with the necessary grip and performance on a circuit which probably demonstrates the importance of driver skill more than any other in the world.”

Whatever happens at Spa-Francorchamps, the fans will be in for two more exciting races in one of the most unpredictable series – the question is, will Grosjean secure the title this weekend and then enjoy Monza before an expected return to the Formula One fold, with Renault perhaps?

Or can van Der Garde take the fight to Monza? He has to outscore Grosjean by six points over the weekend to have a hope at Monza. Realistically, Grosjean should secure the crown at the end of the sprint race – unless Van Der Garde has a nightmare in the opening race.

Spa-Francorchamps GP2 Schedule:

Friday, 26 August:

11.55 – 12.25: Practice Session
15.55 – 16.25: Qualifying Session
17.30: Press Conference

Saturday, 27 August:

15.25: Pit Lane Opens
15.30: Pit Lane Closes/Grid

15.40: Race 1 – Feature Race (25 Laps/60 Minutes)
18.10: Press Conference

Sunday, 28 August:

10.15: Pit Lane Opens
10.20: Pit Lane Closes/grid
10.30: race 2 – Sprint Race (18 Laps/45 Minutes)

Picture Credit: Alastair Staley/GP2 Media Service

Coletti Secures Hungary Honours From P21.

Stefano Coletti Coming from P21 to P1.

A combination of the weather and two Safety Car periods enabled Stefano Coletti (Trident Racing) to secure the honours in the GP2 Sprint race, stunning his rivals as he secured the victory by 7.2s, having lined up in P21. He led home Esteban Gutierrez (Lotus ART) and Romain Grosjean (Dams).

The teams faced a tough decision on tyre choice: all but seven drivers opted to start on wet tyres, but the seven slick starters included Luca Filippi (Scuderia Coloni), Coletti and Gutierrez – the young Mexican lining up in twenty fourth position.

Christian Vietoris (Racing Engineering) started the Sprint race from P1 and the early laps were about the young German driver. He made a perfect start from Pole Position and he held the lead into turn one while Giedo van der Garde (Barwa Addax Team) and Charles Pic (Barwa Addax Team) both moved up the inside of Jules Bianchi (Lotus ART) while the slick shod Filippi went wide and dropped to the rear of the field.

Vietoris, up at the front, was pulling away from the field while Bianchi was busy defending fourth from Grosjean but the Frenchman from Dams was ahead on lap two after Bianchi ran wide at turn one and soon, he was on the back of Pic. Meanwhile, Vietoris had opened up an 8s gap over van der Garde, the Dutchman wasn’t able to match the pace set by Vietoris.

With the track drying out, the seventh lap saw the start of the pitstops for the change to slicks. Pic pitted a lap later after he was struggling to keep Grosjean behind him. Soon after that, Max Chilton (Carlin) stopped out on track, bringing out the Safety Car and Vietoris, van der Garde, Grosjean and Bianchi made their switch to slicks, and rejoined in the same order.

Vietoris was in control as the race got back underway , but behind there was a change as Grosjean got ahead of van der Garde after both drivers ran wide. Bianchi was the next man to challenge van der Garde but the pair collided at turn four, sending the Lotus ART driver to the back of the field.

Coletti, by this stage had found himself up in sixth position, behind the battling duo of Luiz Razia (Caterham Team AirAsia) and Sam Bird (iSport International) and he gained two positions when the two ahead of him made a small mistake. Fourth became third when he got ahead of a slower van der Garde.

The rain then returned and Bianchi was the first to blink, pitting for another set of wets. Grosjean, meanwhile, had caught Vietoris and a small mistake opened the door for Grosjean – but while having to avoid the spinning German, Coletti slid past and into the race lead.

Dani Clos had stopped out on track, bringing the Safety Car back into action. Coletti and Grosjean took the opportunity to pit for wet tyres and rejoined behind Pic, who hadn’t pitted.

At the restart, Pic ran too wide at turn one and allowed Coletti through. This was the last time the field saw the Monegasque driver as he stormed off into the distance. The closing laps were about the battle for second between Grosjean and Gutierrez.

The tyre strategy worked by Gutierrez and Lotus ART brought the young Mexican up from twenty fourth and onto the tail of the Dams driver – the final corner saw Gutierrez secure second from Grosjean. The final points scoring positions went the way of van der Garde, Bird and Bianchi.

Grosjean has further extended his Championship lead as the field heads to their summer break before Spa-Francorchamps. He tops the standings with 74 points compared to the 49 points of van der Garde. Pic sits third on 42 points while Bianchi and Bird both have 35 points.

Picture Credit: Alastair Staley/GP2 Media Service

Unstoppable Grosjean Wins in Hungary.

Romain Grosjean during the GP2 Feature Race from Nurburgring.

Romain Grosjean (Dams) has further extended his Championship lead after he secured his fifth win of the 2011 GP2 Series in today’s Feature Race. The Frenchman moved into the lead of the race after long time race leader Marcus Ericsson (iSport International) was given a drive through penalty in the closing stages of the race. The podium was completed by Charles Pic (Barwa Addax Team) and Pole Sitter Luiz Razia (Caterham Team AirAsia).

At the start, Ericsson made the perfect getaway to move into the lead ahead of Razia before the first corner while further back, Luca Filippi (Scuderia Coloni) made a poor getaway which dropped the Italian down to P7, with Pic and Grosjean getting ahead.

The French rivals battled over P3 in turn one with the Dams driver coming out on top of the Addax driver, while Giedo Van Der Garde (Barwa Addax Team) was in tow.

Ericsson set about building a gap to those behind him while Razia was busy trying to keep Grosjean behind him.  Unable to find a way past the Caterham Team AirAsia driver, the Frenchman pitted a lap earlier than his Brazilian rival.

The strategy worked as Grosjean was ahead of Razia after the pit stops. Ericsson also pitted on lap sixteen, the same as Razia and he was released just as Razia was coming down the pitlane. The stewards were quickly investigating it and Ericsson was given a drive through penalty for the unsafe release. He rejoined the race in sixth after his penalty.

Once all of the front runners had made their pit stops, the battle for seventh saw Sam Bird (iSport International), Fabio Leimer (Rapax), Dani Clos (Racing Engineering), Jules Bianchi (Lotus ART) and Christian Vietoris (Racing Engineering) all scrapping for a front row start. Bird was soon out of contention as he had to make a second stop for tyres, having pitted earlier than the others.

Grosjean had rejoined the race 1.5s behind Ericsson before the young Swede’s penalty was handed the lead and he didn’t look back. Filippi had climbed up to second but was struggling with his tyres, having stopped on lap twelve. Towards the end, all he was focused on was scoring points for the team and he let the charging Pic, Razia and van der Garde through. Ericsson also made a move in the dying minutes to snatch fifth away from the Scuderia Coloni driver.

Once ahead of Filippi, Pic was then able to close on Grosjean but he ran out of time before he was able to challenge for the race lead. Grosjean secured his fifth win of the season ahead of Pic and Razia, while the top eight was completed by van der Garde, Ericsson, Filippi, Bianchi and Vietoris. Vietoris will start the sprint race from Pole Position tomorrow.

GP2 Feature Race Results:

Position

Driver

Team

1

Romain Grosjean

Dams

2

Charles Pic

Barwa Addax Team

3

Luiz Razia

Caterham Team AirAsia

4

Giedo van der Garde

Barwa Addax Team

5

Marcus Ericsson

iSport International

6

Luca Filippi

Scuderia Coloni

7

Jules Bianchi

Lotus ART

8

Christian Vietoris

Racing Engineering

9

Josef Kral

Arden International

10

Dani Clos

Racing Engineering

11

Fabio Leimer

Rapax

12

Michael Herck

Scuderia Coloni

13

Pal Varhaug

Dams

14

Kevin Mirocha

Ocean Racing Technology

15

Mikhail Aleshin

Carlin

16

Davide Valsecchi

Caterham Team AirAsia

17

Sam Bird

iSport International

18

Max Chilton

Carlin

19

Adam Carroll

Super Nova Racing

20

Julian Leal

Rapax

21

Stefano Coletti

Trident Racing

22

Jolyon Palmer

Arden International

23

Rodolfo Gonzalez

Trident Racing

24

Esteban Gutierrez

Lotus ART

25

Johnny Cecotto

Ocean Racing Technology

26

Fairuz Fauzy

Super Nova Racing

Picture Credit: Drew Gibson/GP2 Media Service