Bridgestone Motorsport's GP2 Asia Series Report
Kamui Kobayashi (Dams) has won the first and only race of the second round of the GP2 Asia Series at the Dubai Autodrome after severe rainfall flooded the circuit, preventing Saturday's planned racing activities from taking place.
Kobayashi qualified for Friday's race in pole position with a time of 1min 41.091secs, almost two tenths faster than his countryman, Sakon Yamamoto (ART Grand Prix), who was second fastest, meaning an all- Japanese front row.
Bridgestone's medium compound GP2 Series slick tyre was in use in Dubai for the first time, and Kobayashi used it to perfection for a storming start and to build a good lead. He later lost the advantage when he pitted on lap fifteen for his obligatory stop, where he changed his left-hand tyres. Third-qualifying Vitaly Petrov (Barwa International Campos Team) gained the advantage in the pit stop period to head the field after he had changed his rear tyres. Roldan Rodriguez (Piquet GP) also passed Kobayashi on track to displace the Japanese to third.
Kobayashi was shrewdly managing his tyres, however, and he fought back, overtaking Rodriguez and Petrov on consecutive laps at the same corner. He then disappeared off into the distance to win the race by over fourteen seconds from second-placed finisher Davide Valsecchi (Durango). Rodriguez finished third. Outlining the durability of the medium compound when managed well, Kobayashi set the race's fastest lap, a 1min 43.079secs, on lap 25 of the race's 34 lap duration.
The reverse top eight grid should have meant that Yamamoto would have started Saturday's race from pole, with Jerome d'Ambrosio (Dams) alongside, however heavy overnight rain left parts of the circuit and some of the surrounding area deep under water, meaning that Saturday's racing was cancelled. The GP2 Series organisers will decide at a later date its reaction to this.
Leaving Dubai, Kobayashi leads the drivers' championship on 22 points from Rodriguez on 19. Valsecchi is in third on 15. The teams' championship is led by Dams on 26 points from Piquet GP on 19. Durango are in third place on 15. The next round of the GP2 Asia Series takes place in Bahrain on January 23-24.
Quote from Kentaro Yamamoto - Bridgestone Motorsport GP2 Series Engineer
"This was the first time that we have used the medium specification Bridgestone GP2 Series slick tyre for a GP2 Asia race. As expected, the tyre tread wear was more severe than we would see on the hard compound, but this was not an issue for the race distance here in Dubai. Both the front and rear tyres degrade earlier than the hard compound would, but not necessarily with the same balance as the drivers were accustomed to with the hard. Drivers who could manage this change well were able to post a good result. Equally, some drivers were unable to compensate for the change found they were unable to set good lap times in the later part of the race. The medium compound enabled an exciting race on Friday, with frequent overtaking. Saturday was a disappointment for everyone, but there was nothing we can do about the weather, and not even Bridgestone wet weather tyres can cope with a metre of standing water!"