GP2

Catalunya: ART Grand Prix race one, two report

ART Grand Prix put the final point to a difficult weekend with its first two podiums of the season, secured by Lucas Di Grassi, who finished third in both races contested on the circuit de Catalunya (Spain). Mikhail Aleshin ...

ART Grand Prix put the final point to a difficult weekend with its first two podiums of the season, secured by Lucas Di Grassi, who finished third in both races contested on the circuit de Catalunya (Spain). Mikhail Aleshin completed his first appearance in the GP2 Series with a points finish, 6th, a true performance for a driver who only discovered the Dallara Renault during the qualifying session.

Third at the beginning of race 1, Lucas Di Grassi and ART Grand Prix made the right decision by carrying out their mandatory pit stop under safety car conditions (lap 2). The decision was good, however the execution was somewhat painful because of the position of the team, first in the pitlane, which meant Lucas lost a lot of time behind other drivers and resumed the race in 5th. He managed to climb back to 3rd and secured his first podium in the GP2 Series.

He then repeated this on Sunday by making an excellent start from his 6th spot on the starting grid. Mikhail Aleshin exceeded the hopes of ART Grand Prix by finishing his first GP2 race in the points with a 6th position. The Russian was in the same position in race two after he spun and was forced to retire.

Frederic Vasseur: It's good to be back on the podium but also frustrating because we should have done better. We were unlucky in race 1 with our position in pitlane. Being the first ones, Lucas hit traffic and lost two positions. He then pushed too hard with his fresh tyres and used them too much so there was no way he could fight against Glock at the end of the race. Lucas was very competitive in Monaco last year and I hope he will be again in 2 weeks time.

The accelerator's engine of Mikhail broke during his first lap on track which means he discovered the car in the qualifying session. Leaving Spain with 3 points is therefore a genuine tour de force. We were competitive in Bahrain but could not secure big points and it was the opposite in Spain. Let's hope we'll have both in Monaco.

Mikhail Aleshin: Considering that I did not know the car until the qualifying session I think I had a great debut in the GP2 series. There is a big difference between the GP2 and the World Series by Renault. In a nutshell, I had to change my driving style and learn how to use the tyres in a blink of an eye. They're not working as long as the ones we have in WSbR and I would need more runs to get used to them. But the team is extremely professional and helped me to come to grips with the Dallara and everything worked well in race 1.

Race 2 was not as good as the first one though. I picked up a lot of understeer and was struggling from lap 1. I don't really understand why and that's something we'll have to look into. I don't know what happened when I spun. I lost the grip on the front, I gain some speed, hit a kerb and spun as a consequence. All in all the weekend was good and I'm glad to bring 3 more points to the team.

Lucas Di Grassi: It was very good to secure my first podium but we expected even better. I thought it was great Timo Glock did not pit at the same time as us, but I got held by Nakajima when I was exiting the pit lane and it cost me 2 positions. I had to push hard to overtake Lapierre and Senna, I did so, a bit too much. The rear tyres were destroyed at the end and I could not hold Timo off.

Race 2 was rather good, except I braked too hard at the first corner. I had flat-spotted my tyres and the balance of the car was not good for the whole race. I had a lot of vibrations and it was impossible to gain positions. I'm happy with my two first podiums but I hope we'll do better in Monaco. I love street circuits like Monaco and Macau where I won in F3.

-credit: artgp

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