The GP2 Asia Series returns to familiar ground
After Shanghai's curtain-raiser, next stop for the competition is Dubai this week.
The second season of the GP2 Asia Series opened in Shanghai last October and saw Roldan Rodriguez and Davide Valsecchi win the first two races. Finishing sixth in the sprint race, the Spaniard from Piquet GP scored a further point while his main rival, Dams' Kobayashi, had to retire. Although extremely quick on the Chinese track, the Japanese ace lost the feature race following a spin towards the end of the event, meaning that Rodriguez is currently leading the Championship, three points ahead of Javier Villa at Super Nova Racing.
In third, Kamui Kobayashi will most likely try and get his revenge this week in Dubai. However, some other very competitive drivers are also looking to make another great impression such as Meritus' rookie Earl Bamber. The young Kiwi scored his first GP2 podium in Shanghai's sprint race. More experienced drivers are hungry for success as well such as Vitaly Petrov, Jerôme d'Ambrosio, Sakon Yamamoto or local star Andreas Zuber. And with the arrival of Pastor Maldonado at ART Grand Prix, the fight for the win promises to be quite exciting.
Last season, events in Dubai book-ended the inaugural GP2 Asia Series, and as a result the circuit is a familiar hunting ground for many competitors, including Barwa Campos International Team's Vitaly Petrov. The 24-year-old Russian finished third in the first season and is looking forward to capitalising on his experience in Dubai. "The Dubai circuit feels good in a GP2 car, and it's in quite an amazing city" explains Petrov. "You need quite a long time to learn the circuit and also to find the setup. It's technical and quite difficult in places, so it's very important to find the line, but we have some good setup information from there that we managed to get last season."
In addition to the team's stock of technical data from last season, Petrov believes that his time behind the wheel will also pay dividends. "I've had four races in Dubai, and anyone who has experience there should be at an advantage. It will be very different for us than racing in China where we've had very little experience and no data to use as a starting point. "There are a couple of areas on the circuit in particular where a bit of knowledge puts you in a good position. For example, turns one and two flow into each other and after the first corner there is a very fast line if you can avoid going down hill in the braking zone. Similarly, before the long straight you have a long left corner with lots of bumps and reverse camber, which makes it very interesting - But I'm not going to give away all my secrets now!"