Bridgestone Motorsport's GP2 Asia Series Report Russia's Vitaly Petrov and France's Romain Grosjean took top GP2 Asia honours this weekend, winning the Feature and Sprint races respectively of the third round of the inaugural Bridgestone...
Bridgestone Motorsport's GP2 Asia Series Report
Russia's Vitaly Petrov and France's Romain Grosjean took top GP2 Asia honours this weekend, winning the Feature and Sprint races respectively of the third round of the inaugural Bridgestone supported series in Sepang, Malaysia. Bearing the brunt of Malaysia's tropical climate, the GP2 drivers had to contend with a variety of weather and track conditions which meant that Bridgestone's dry slick and wet weather tyres were used on Sepang's smooth but hard wearing track surface.
Despite stalling on the grid at the start of race one, it is Grosjean, however, who continues his strong run in the series. After setting the fastest time in Friday's midday practice session he went on to take pole in the afternoon's 30 minute qualifying with a time of 1min44.182, ahead of Karun Chandhok and Adrian Valles.
The Frenchman had a less than impressive start nevertheless in race one, stalling on the grid. Chandhok also stalled but it was the falling rain which led to chaos on the opening lap bringing the race to a stop. All drivers bar Michael Herck, Marcello Puglisi, Diego Nunes and Milos Pavlovic changed to Bridgestone's wet tyres before the race restarted behind the safety car. Adrian Valles took the lead from Sebastien Buemi with Grosjean and Bruno Senna battling behind. Senna ruined his chances however, spinning off. With the track drying with every lap, it was Fairuz Fauzy and Davide Valsecchi who first changed back to dry slicks on lap17, prompting the remainder of the field to do so soon after. Petrov meanwhile was beginning to make his move and after Valles was involved in a racing incident the Russian took the lead. He crossed the line ahead of Fauzy and Jerome D'Ambrosio with Valsecchi, Kamui Kobayashi, Yelmer Buurman, Pavlovic and Harald Schleghelmilch completing the top eight, and thus setting the reversed grid for Sunday's second race.
Sunday's 23 lap race was a more straight forward affair with the hot and dry conditions enabling the drivers to really make the most of their hard compound slicks. In a thrilling race which saw plenty of overtaking manoeuvres it was the charging Grosjean and Senna who made their mark. After dicing his way up the field Grosjean finished second behind Kobayashi who had inherited the lead early on and had been left unchallenged, while Senna fought his way from 19th on the grid to eighth. Petrov completed a successful weekend, taking third place.
Grosjean retains the Drivers' Championship lead with 35 points, 11 ahead of Petrov on 24. Fauzy lies in third place with 23 points. In the Teams' Championship, ART Grand Prix still lead on 35 points followed by Barwa International Campos Team on 30 and the iSport International team on 24. The fourth of the five GP2 Asia Series races will take place at Sakhir, Bahrain, where Grand Racing and GP2 Asia will again provide support to Formula One on 5-6 April.
Quote from Hirohide Hamashima - Director of Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development
"This weekend we saw two very exciting races, demonstrating just what GP2 is all about. The Series is new to this track and its smooth surface and we are very pleased with the performance of the Bridgestone Potenza tyres. From a technical point of view, the first race was very interesting because of the changing track conditions from a wet to damp and drying track. The drivers needed to factor in changes from dry slicks to wets and back again to dry slicks at exactly the right moment. The rain was quite heavy at times but the drainage of the track is relatively efficient and there were no rivers or big areas of standing water. From Bridgestone's point of view, the mixed weather and track conditions created valuable dry versus wet tyre comparison data which we can analyse and use to ascertain the grip differences between the tyres. The second race was also technically interesting as the drivers experienced very hot conditions on this smooth track surface. With our hard compound tyres working well and very consistently, with the right management by the drivers, we saw that this created plenty of opportunity for overtaking."