Dani Clos, fantastic fourth for Racing Engineering
It's been a nail-biting season final at the Yas Mairna circuit in Abu Dhabi, where Dani Clos' aim was to get back third position in the overall standings. Having qualified in second position on Friday, a much talked about penalty which sent the Racing Engineering driver back to eleventh position on the grid for Saturday's feature race. Dani fought his way up during the race to finish in fourth, less than a second from the podium. This meant the young Spaniard had to score 4 points in Sunday's race to get back third position in the drivers' championship. Although Dani could count on the reliability and speed of his Racing Engineering machine, and raced with passion and dedication from start to finish, he was just 0.4 seconds short of a podium finish. Missing third position in the championship standings by one point. Ho-Pin, who was in charge of Racing Engineering's car number 8 during his first weekend with the Spanish squad, faced a difficult race starting from 21st position after his early exit from Saturday's feature race. But he finished Sunday's sprint race in Abu Dhabi in 14th position after a solid drive.
Before Sunday's sprint race, all possible scenarios for Dani to take back the third position in the overall standings again were clear. With Bianchi, who only moved up to third when Dani suffered from his nasty accident in Spa, most probably not scoring given his 18th position on the grid, Dani needed four points. But the equation also included Bird, who had to finish the race behind Dani. No one could deny the pressure the young Spaniard and his Racing Engineering team were facing before today's race, which saw the Spaniard start from fifth position on the grid. At the start of the race Dani was slightly off the track and lost a position to Bird, who was starting just one position down. But it was during the opening lap that Dani took his position back and also passed poleman Kral, finishing lap 1 already in fourth. But fourth position would leave the Spaniard one point short.
With former Formula 1 driver Grosjean in third and Bird in fifth, the Racing Engineering driver put the Frenchman under attack, while at the same time defending his position from Bird. Perez moved to sixth position and closed in on the three. The intense but very short battle finished with an overeager maneuver from the Mexican, finishing his and Bird's race in the last sector of lap five. From this moment on, Dani had no more pressure from behind and was close behind Grosjean, waiting for a mistake from the Frenchman. Although there were some, none were big enough for the Spaniard to get by. After proper tyre management and with a lower fuel load towards the end of the race, Dani dramatically increased the pressure during the last five laps of the race. With only half a second separating Dani from third position, he was pushing Grosjean around the Yas Marina circuit for several laps. But all of Dani's efforts during the race were not rewarded and he had to settle for fourth, 0.4 seconds off the podium and the third position in the drivers' championship.
Ho-Pin Tung, starting from 21st position on the grid, had a good start and was once more lucky to avoid cars spinning in front of him. Chilton passed the Gravity driver on lap three and would be the driver ahead of Ho-PIn during the remainder of the race. Setting consistent lap times and battling his way up the classification, Ho-Pin finished today's race in a good 14th position.
Today's race was the finish of a successful 2010 season for Racing Engineering in GP2. Dani Clos might have missed third position in the drivers' standings, but no Spanish driver before him has ever finished the championship better than him.
While the 2010 season finished today, the 2011 season already starts next Thursday with the shakedown of the 2011-2013 Dallara GP2 car. The following week the team comes back to Abu Dhabi for the driver evaluation tests before the 2011 season starts at the beginning of February 2011.
Dani Clos: "Today's start was a bit tricky. I lost a position and was slightly next to the track, but I was able to recuperate this position during the opening lap. I was pushing hard and had a good rhythm. My goal was to maintain my tyres well, so I could go really fast towards the end of the race when the car would be lighter. I was close to Grosjean all race long, and he made some mistakes, but there was no way to pass. It's a pity that I wasn't able to race in Belgium and I was not yet 100% fit when I raced in Monza when we see that it's one point missing to third position in the championship standings. Losing the second position of qualifying affected the whole weekend. It was a constant battle to recuperate what we lost. But that's how it is and the focus is already on 2011."
Ho-Pin Tung: "I had a good start, but it could have still been better. I had some good fights and enjoyed the racing. Later in the race I started to suffer a bit from my brakes and went a bit wide sometimes. But I am pleased to have covered the entire race distance after such a long time without racing. It's a really good feeling."
Alfonso de Orleans-Borbon, President of Racing Engineering: "Fantastic job from Dani. He did a really good race. Ho-Pin impressed as well today, but he was obviously having a quite difficult race given his starting position.
I would like to thank the entire team, every single team member, including Christian Vietoris who is still at the hospital, for the wonderful job they've done this season. It's a pity Dani suffered from the accident in Spa, but he did a fantastic season, finishing fourth overall, better than any Spaniard ever competing in GP2. Christian had a great rookie season as well and I am sure he would have liked to repeat this Monza victory here in Abu Dhabi this weekend. I would like to thank our drivers, mechanics, engineers, Thomas, our team manager, but also all the people, who are back at the workshop for the wonderful job they did in 2010, no mistakes all season."