Winning return for Razia and Arden

Luiz Razia and Arden International got their 2012 GP2 Series campaign off to the best possible start after securing the feature race honours at Sepang, the venue for the opening round of the 2012 GP2 Series.

For Razia, the victory marked his first in GP2 since 2009 while for Arden; it was their first victory since the beginning of the 2010 campaign.

Having seen the original start aborted due to two stallers on the grid, Razia made the best start on the restart to take the lead immediately from Pole man Davide Valsecchi and the Brazilian never looked back, taking the chequered flag after thirty laps by 7.8s from Valsecchi.

Speaking about the race, Razia said: “I made a very good start and was able to open a sizeable lead during the first six laps. I tried to maintain a consistent pace, to extend tyre life, and radioed in to make a pit stop just before half-distance, as soon as I sensed that the tyres were starting to go off a little. We just fitted fresh rears, which was the correct call, and after that I ran at a slightly reduced pace to keep my tyres fresh at the end, just in case.

“Davide was very quick in the middle of the race, but less so towards the end and I was able to finish without any pressure. It was still very difficult, though, trying to adopt a sensible pace and monitoring what tyre strategies our rivals adopted. It has been a good day and I am now focusing on tomorrow. I hope to make another good start and will see how things progress. It will be tough making a single set of tyres last, so astute judgment will again be critical.”

For Simon Trummer, his first race of the season was a story of contact – having been collected on the opening lap at turn four before later being involved with Rodolfo Gonzalez as he finished twenty first overall.

GP3 Graduate Trummer said about his race: “I got away well and had passed several cars by the time I reached Turn Four, but somebody then hit me from behind. That caused damage to the rear of the car and upset the balance, so I made an early tyre stop and we changed all four wheels. My pace was quite good after that. I’m happy to have finished, but less so about the incident at the start. I hope to do better tomorrow.”

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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.

Front row for Razia on Arden return

Luiz Razia

Luiz Razia starts his second spell as an Arden International driver on the front row of the grid after a tight qualifying session at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia, the venue for the opening weekend of the 2012 GP2 Series.

The Brazilian driver drove for Arden in the 2008/2009 GP2 Asia Series started off with a seventh place result  in practice before moving up the order in qualifying, and he finished the session with a 1m45.554s.

Razia is pleased with how the day went but feels that the hard work is still yet to come: “This has been a very good day for the team – and the same is true for me. To qualify at the front has been a great confidence booster, although the oppressive climate here makes racing tough, no matter where you line up. There’s always a chance of rain, too, so I’m expecting things to be difficult.

“It is important to remain focused, to minimise any risk of error, and we have to keep an eye on the strategic permutations. The situation has changed this season, with the adoption of different tyre compounds, and we need to look at the data to see whether it’s best to choose hard-hard or medium-hard for the race. One of the key objectives today was to save tyres for the race – and we managed to do that while lapping quickly. It has been a very positive start, but the hardest bit lies ahead.”

Razia’s team-mate is GP3 graduate Simon Trummer. Having made his debut in the non Championship GP2 Final at Abu Dhabi, he will start his first main series race from row twelve, as he learns about the cut and thrust nature of GP2.

He admits that he is disappointed with how his qualifying went as team-mate Razia proved that the potential is there for the team: “I know there is potential in the car – Luiz proved that much – so I have to be a little disappointed with my own result. I was happy enough with the way things were going and felt fairly sure I could qualify in the top half of the field, but I didn’t manage a clear lap on my final run and slipped back to 24th. It is all part of the learning process, though, and I’m confident that I’ll be able to move forward in the race.”

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

Leimer Secures Abu Dhabi Feature Race Honours

Fabio Leimer secured the feature race honours in the non Championship Abu Dhabi race from Pole Position, securing a dominant victory from Caterham Team AirAsia’s Luiz Razia and Jolyon Palmer, who secured his first GP2 Points finish with a podium finish for Barwa Addax Team.

Swiss driver Leimer got the perfect start in his Racing Engineering car while fellow front row starter Dani Clos (Rapax) made a slower getaway and soon found himself in between Josef Kral (Arden International) and Razia – Clos saw his race end at T1 while Kral spun.

This incident allowed Razia and Palmer the chance to chase down Leimer out front – his pace, however, was hard for Palmer to match and he had to keep his eyes on what was happening behind as Esteban Gutierrez (Lotus ART) was on a charge, having lined up eighth.

Gutierrez was making up for a poor qualifying performance but his hopes of a podium finish were dashed after having to make an unscheduled pit stop for repairs to be made to his damaged rear wing, having been collected by Stefano Coletti (Scuderia Coloni) in the first corner.

Leimer was able to maintain a good gap up at the front and this meant that Razia’s only hope of securing the race lead was during the pit stops. Leimer pitted two laps later than Razia and the Swiss driver rejoined the track second, ahead of Razia but behind Palmer, who pitted a lap later and this gave the Racing Engineering driver the lead once again.

Behind the top two drivers, Palmer had a lonely first stint was soon holding off iSport International’s Marcus Ericsson – the Swedish driver had started down in thirteenth position but having made a perfect getaway, he was soon up to eighth and his pace enabled him to move up to fourth after his pit stop on lap thirteen.

Ericsson continued to push until the chequered flag but it wasn’t enough and Palmer was able to hold on to him maiden GP2 podium finish.

At the flag, Leimer secured the victory and maximum points – he set the fastest lap of the race on lap twenty three – ahead of Razia and Palmer, while the top eight was completed by Ericsson, Kevin Ceccon (Scuderia Coloni) and three GP3 graduates, Tom Dillmann (iSport International), Antonio Felix da Costa (Ocean Racing Technology) from fifteenth on the grid and James Caado (Lotus ART) – Calado will start tomorrows sprint race from Pole Position.

Razia Qualifies Inside GP2 Top 4.

Caterham Team AirAsia had a mixed day ahead of the Non-Championship GP2 Final at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi as regular driver Luiz Razia finished inside the top four while American racer Alexander Rossi finished fifteenth fastest ahead of tomorrow’s feature race.

Razia, who completed twenty three laps in qualifying set his best time on his first set of tyres to finish just three tenths of a second off Pole Position, and a position on the second row of the grid.

Speaking about qualifying, Razia said: “The car felt very good in the first stint and I was able to push straight out of the box but if I am honest I am a little disappointed as I felt I could have got another couple of tenths out of it and had pole position. In the second half the session was disrupted with a red flag and with just one lap left after the track went green the tyres were just not ready. The track surface differed a lot this afternoon – The F1 rubber helped in the first outing but then I think only one or two people improved on their second set of tyres. With regards to the tyre choice for this weekend I think it is good; I didn’t feel much degradation so although I would like to be on the front row I am happy. It’s a good qualifying result, we just need to push, have a good strategy and fight for the race win. Let’s do it!”

GP2 rookie Rossi saw his qualifying session hampered with a technical issue from Free Practice, which meant that he lost out on valuable track time. Qualifying then saw him be in the wrong place at the wrong time as the red flags came out while he was on his fastest lap of the session, and once the track went live once again he was unable to better his best time and lines up down in fifteenth position.

The American racer said after qualifying: “My practice session was quite disjointed so although my first run in qualifying was clear my lack of pace was down to the fact I still had no real reference points and I was still trying to find my way. On the second set of tyres I set my fastest first two sectors but there was a red flag and after that only had time for one lap to put everything together. I am frustrated but we’ll see what tomorrow brings.  The Pirelli rear tyres seem to go away quite quickly but it is the same for everyone so it will all be about protecting the tyres and whoever can do that the best will get the best results.”

“We qualified P4 and P15 so I have mixed feelings about the session,” explains Team Manager Phill Spencer. “We had a slight problem with the throttle on Alexander’s cars this morning which we fixed in time for qualifying but unfortunately he lost some track time. Both cars were on their fastest laps when the red flag came out but it seemed Luiz was making the most of every opportunity and was really happy with the car.

“All in all I am pleased for Luiz and a little disappointed for Alexander as we all know he is capable of a much better qualifying result. We will fight from where we start tomorrow – a podium is definitely in our reach and as long as we can make some progress I will be happy.”

For Humphrey Corbett, Caterham Team AirAsia Chief Engineer, the session didn’t go according to plan as he explains: “Qualifying didn’t go quite according to script; I was expecting both cars to be up there but at least Luiz Razia proved the car is capable of qualifying at the front.

“Alexander unfortunately had a lot of traffic and was blocked on a very quick lap after the red flag, he was up on both his sectors so it was a shame he wasn’t able to have a clear lap – he was just very unlucky. Alexander didn’t seem to have the grip on his first set of tyres so we will have to look at that.

“As for tomorrow anything is possible, Alexander is disappointed but he is capable of passing other cars so at the very least if we can get him up to P8 to start on pole for Sunday’s race that would be perfect – that and a podium finish for Luiz. It is all very achievable.”

Caterham Team AirAsia Aim for Monza Rewards as Maiden GP2 Campaign Comes to an End.

Monza in Italy marks the conclusion of the 2011 GP2 Series campaign and for Caterham Team AirAsia, their maiden season in the category has been one of highs and lows.

They head to Monza hoping for a final high in the season and for a change in luck, as the last few race weekends have brought mostly back luck to the team.

Pirelli have provided the Hard Compound tyre for this weekend, due to the high speeds and heavy braking of the parkland Monza circuit.

Heading to Italy and Monza, Phill Spencer is in optimistic mood ahead of the final two races of the season.

He said: “I am optimistic. We have had a bit of a bad run recently but both drivers have had good results here so there is no reason why the drivers cannot do well here, but we will find out when the cars turn a wheel here in free practice tomorrow. The engineers are experienced and have been here many times in the past so they know what they are doing. I am a little anxious but I am happy to be here. The first time I came to this circuit was in 1979 and not much has changed really, just a little at the first chicane. With the long straights and monster braking, drivers like it. The high speed makes it an exciting track to drive but it is the braking that will make up all the time here.”

The team are currently sitting sixth in the teams’ Championship but having secured a victory in their debut season as well as a Pole Position, it has been a good season all round.

Davide Valsecchi, who brought the team their first victory at Monaco lives close to the Italian circuit said about the upcoming race weekend: “It’s an incredibly good feeling being here this week. Monza is close to home so I have friends and supporters with me which is really nice. It is a lot of fun racing here, there are long straights, strong brake points and lots of chances to overtake, so I hope the team and I can qualify well and have a good weekend from the front. I hope the hard tyres will not be a problem. We had a good, competitive result when we used them in Barcelona, so considering this and the good weather forecast I am feeling positive. The team always do a good job I want to make a faultless race so we can finish the season well.”

Luiz Razia has previous experience of winning at Monza, as he secured the Sprint Race honours in 2009, for rival team Scuderia Coloni.

He said about the Monza race weekend:  “It is a pleasure to be here in Monza! I won the sprint race here in 2009 with Di Grassi and Hulkenburg behind me which was a great feeling. It is good fun to be on the track where the hard tyres, low downforce and high speeds mean you are on the edge all the time. The atmosphere is always great here too. Since Silverstone we’ve had very wet, difficult conditions but hopefully here will be dry so we can work through the weekend and have a good consistent weekend. If the weather is stable of course everyone else is in the same situation, so competition will as always be tough but that’s good. I really like the Ascari chicane and Parabolica, the change of direction through these are very quick. We used the hard compound tyres in Barcelona and we had a good race, our aim here is to work on the qualifying so we can start the weekend in a strong position.”

Humphrey Corbett is hoping for a stress free end to the season after the last few rounds, which have been stressful for all concerned.

He said: “I’m looking forward to this weekend. There’s no chance of rain at the moment and it would be nice to have a stress free weekend unlike we have had in the past few races. We have got two drivers that have done very well here, we have a good set-up and will be using the hard tyres which we like so we are confident of a good result. To have a good chance at doing well here you need good braking, good stability under braking, low downforce and to be reasonably good over kerbs. I am sure both drivers will go for it this weekend. We have nothing to lose but we can climb up the championship so let’s go for it!”

GP2 Monza Weekend Schedule:

Friday, 9 September:

11.55 – 12.25: Free Practice
15.55 – 16.25: Qualifying

Saturday, 10 September:

15.25: Pit Lane Opens
15:30: Pit Lane Closes/Grid
15.40: GP2 Feature Race. (30 Laps/60 Minutes)

Sunday, 11 September:

10.15: Pit Lane Opens
10.20: Pit Lane Closes/Grid
10.30: GP2 Sprint Race (21 Laps/45 Minutes)