Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi (Trust Team Arden) and Malaysian Fairuz Fauzy (Super Nova Racing) took a win apiece this weekend during an exciting round two of the GP2 Asia Series at the Indonesian circuit of Sentul. With three different types of...
Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi (Trust Team Arden) and Malaysian Fairuz Fauzy (Super Nova Racing) took a win apiece this weekend during an exciting round two of the GP2 Asia Series at the Indonesian circuit of Sentul. With three different types of track surface to contend with, ever changing weather conditions and the frequent use of the Safety Car, it was a challenging weekend for the GP2 Asia drivers and teams when it came to managing their tyre choices and strategies.
Russian Vitaly Petrov (Barwa International Campos) made the most of a good tyre call on a damp but drying track in the opening stages of qualifying, enabling him to put in some fast lap times on dry tyres. With mid session rain briefly bringing out the red flag, there was no chance of his pole time of 1m19.337 seconds being bettered on a wet track and the grid for race one was all set with Luca Filippi (Qi-Meritus Mahara), Adrian Valles (FMS International) and Romain Grosjean (ART Grand Prix) completing the top four.
Petrov failed to capitalise however on his pole in the 46-lap feature race, which took place in dry conditions. Leading Filippi, Valles and Grosjean, a safety car period on lap three resulted in the majority of cars pitting for their compulsory tyre change - Bruno Senna (iSport International) and Hiroki Yoshimoto (Qi-Meritus Mahara) being notable exceptions as they hoped to gain advantage from staying out. It was not to be Petrov's or Senna's day however after Petrov spun out mid way through the race and Senna picked up a drive through penalty for passing the Safety Car on its second restart. Filippi, too, was not to benefit. Although he crossed the finishing line in the lead, he was later disqualified as it emerged that his team had fitted him with a rear tyre designated for his teammate Yoshimoto. This left Buemi, Valles and Ben Hanley (Barwa International Campos) to claim the top three positions.
Sunday's scheduled 31-lap sprint race provided perhaps the most eventful race of the series so far which led to it finishing after 25 laps, having hit the 45 minute time limit. Starting behind the Safety Car due to heavy rain conditions, and with all cars bar four on wet weather tyres, it was not until lap seven that the race got under way with Fauzy, having finished eighth in race one, leading the field from pole. In the next few laps Frenchman Grosjean and Petrov traded places for fourth, with Petrov winning out, while Italian Filippi threw away his points scoring chances with a spin which brought out the Safety Car for a second time. Such was the intense nature of the competition that, on the restart, just a single lap of racing took place after a heated battle for third between Milos Pavlovic (BCN Competicion), Petrov, Grosjean and Hanley left Pavlovic out of the race, bringing out the Safety Car for a third and final time. Fauzy meanwhile had set the fastest lap of the race on that lap 16. As racing recommenced for the final few minutes, Fauzy held off a challenge from Senna to take his maiden win of the series and boosting his confidence ahead of his home races in Malaysia next month. Crossing the line in third behind Senna was Petrov, ahead of Grosjean, Valles and China's Ho-Pin Tung (Trident Racing).
Grosjean retains the Drivers' Championship lead with 27 points, ten ahead of Senna on 17. Valles rises to third place on 15 points. In the Teams' Championship, ART Grand Prix still lead on 27 points followed by iSport International on 23 and the Barwa International Campos Team on 16. GP2 Asia has a five week break now until round three at Sepang, where Grand Racing and GP2 Asia will support the 2008 Malaysia Grand Prix on 21-23 March.
Quote from Hirohide Hamashima - Director of Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development
"As expected in the warmer climate of Indonesia, the Bridgestone dry slicks warmed up more quickly than in Dubai and we are pleased with the feedback from the drivers about their good performance and ability to provide good grip. We noted that the tyre tread was scratched more than you would expect but this was undoubtedly due to the nature of the track surface, especially in the run off areas. Our wet tyres were put to good use too. The frequent change between dry, damp and wet conditions, compounded by the rough track surface was something our tyres are not normally subjected to on European circuits and they did wear more than usual. Nevertheless, we didn't see the graining you would expect from wet tyres when used in damp and drying conditions and we are generally very pleased with the durability and performance of our tyres this weekend."