ART Grand Prix returns from the opening round of the 2010 GP2 Main Series, contested last weekend in Barcelona (Spain), with six points and a lot of promise for the future thanks to Jules Bianchi securing the first pole position of the season and to some great come back drives from both Jules and his teammate Sam Bird, who qualified in third place on the grid for the first race. After a difficult start for both drivers in race one Jules became the innocent victim in a first lap crash that left him spinning out of the event. Meanwhile, Sam was forced to take evasive action, going onto the kerbs and into the pits for a new nose. A series of fast laps soon followed and he drove brilliantly to work his way back to ninth place at the finish, one position shy of the top 8 and pole position for race two. However he did secure a point for his efforts after setting the fastest lap of the race.
Race two was always going to be a challenge for Jules who started in 22nd but the Frenchman got off to a storming start to move up to 12th by the end of the first lap. After that he became stuck behind experienced drivers and even had a moment when one tried to overtake him on the final lap. Meanwhile, Sam was determined to get something more from the weekend, pulling off another brilliant display as he fought his way up to a superb fourth place by the end of the day. ART GP now heads to Monaco for the second round of the season knowing the team and their drivers have the potential and everything it takes to secure poles and victories.
Jules Bianchi: "From a mathematical point of view, it could not have been a worse start but there are a lot of positives. Firstly, the car is really fast. The team did a great job after the winter tests and both Sam and I showed we can deliver. I had my problems in practice but I worked really well with my engineer and qualifying was great; I was happy to offer ART Grand Prix this pole position for the first meeting of the season but I had a so-so start which got worse at the first turn. I was hit by several other cars and it was the end of my weekend but we'll be back in Monaco and I hope I will have a trouble free weekend this time to show what we are capable of."
Sam Bird: "Qualifying went raeally well and we were optimistic going into the feature race. It's a shame that the first lap ruined our efforts. I tried to avoid other cars but it was just impossible and I had a damaged wing which destroyed our chances of winning the first race. The team did a superb job during the pit stop and the entire weekend. I had a winning car even though in the end we just couldn't win either race. At least we put on a good show and our level of performance is encouraging. I am totally relaxed in the team, we get along very well together and I'm a definitely a happy camper inside ART Grand Prix. I have never raced in Monaco but it should be awesome. I'm looking forward to it because I have always done well on street circuits."
Frederic Vasseur: "The final outcome is not as good as we would have liked and what it could have been at the start of the first race, but our performances are more than encouraging and that is the main thing. Pole and third place in qualifying and the extraordinary fightback during the races, both races in Sam's case, shows that we have the potential to add another honour to our prize list in the GP2 Series. ART Grand Prix was cursed on the first lap in Barcelona but I am completely satisfied with the performance of both Jules and Sam and I am relying on their qualities as men and drivers. They are perfectly integrated into the team where the atmosphere is studious but warm. With two rookies you can't expect to make a storming start in the championship but that's what Jules and Sam did intrinsically even though it was not translated into a large points haul."