The first race of the 2011 GP2 Asia series was held today at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Lotus ART team driver Jules Bianchi was hot on the heels of the pole winner yesterday during qualifying and today, he replied back by taking the...
The first race of the 2011 GP2 Asia series was held today at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Lotus ART team driver Jules Bianchi was hot on the heels of the pole winner yesterday during qualifying and today, he replied back by taking the season opener victory and his first win in GP2.
"I think Romain was really quick in the beginning. I tried to make a gap and then I saw that he was still behind so I just managed my tyres to push at the end and finish first," said Bianchi. "I really want to thank the team because we worked a lot and finally I won a race in GP2, so that's good."
Adrift of the winner by 6.6 seconds was Romain Grosjean for the DAMS team. Having the edge for the pole did not benefit Grosjean as Bianchi got off to a flying start in today's Feature race to take the lead. Despite pressure from his fellow countryman, Bianchi held Grosjean at bay and picked up the extra point for fastest lap on his way to victory.
"It was not easy... I had some locking when I braked hard so I saw Romain every time catching up with me. He was pushing hard I think because he made some mistakes so I managed a gap and at the end I think his tyres were a bit less good than me. I could push and managed a good gap," added Bianchi.
The start was a messy one behind the top runners and a red flag was shown to stop the action before it really started.
Dani Clos stalled his Racing Engineering GP2 car from fouth on the grid and while many were able to avoid him, Liuz Razia did not see Clos until the last second and tried to move to the right to avoid the hit. The collision between Clos's car and the AirAsia car was dramatic with Razia flying over the stalled car before crashing into a wall. Also involved was the DAMS car of Pal Varhaug.
Half an hour later the track was finally clear to re-start the race. Bianchi held onto his lead as Grosjean tried his best to pressure the leader into a mistake. Bianchi was unfazed from his rival's attacks and it was the former Asia Series Champion Grosjean that made a few costly errors while trying to take the lead.
"It is just a nightmare here to try and overtake," explained Grosjean. "Plus there is no more skirt on the GP2 car. So when you lose the downforce you use more your tyres. We had a better pace today. I couldn't show it because I could not pass Jules."
Behind the duo and also adding to the fun was last year's Asia champ, Davide Valsecchi, who took third for the rookie AirAsia team.
iSport's Marcus Ericsson ended fourth, two seconds off the final podium step while he had his own challenge to contend with as Giedo van der Garde for the Addax team crossed the line less than a second away for fifth.
The final three to fill out the top eight were Josef Kral (Arden) Sam Bird (iSport) and Max Chilton (Carlin). After the race Chilton would be penalized for overtaking off the defined track, taking tomorrow's sprint pole away from the new Carlin team. The top spot will now go to Stefano Coletti and his Trident Racing team.