The opening round of the GP2 European season at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain on the weekend did not go as well as the ART Grand Prix team had hoped with gremlins affecting their performance from the start. In qualifying Romain Grosjean...
The opening round of the GP2 European season at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain on the weekend did not go as well as the ART Grand Prix team had hoped with gremlins affecting their performance from the start. In qualifying Romain Grosjean suffered engine failure while teammate Luca Filippi suffered gearbox woes as well as a water pump failure. This meant that the two drivers started 11th and 14th on the grid respectively.
In race one Romain drove brilliantly to rise from 11th to fifth, setting a pace faster than the leaders, however there was not enough time to close the gap to the leaders any further. Meanwhile, teammate Filippi was also putting in a strong performance when he was hit by Conway and forced to drop to the back of the field. In race two Romain had a brilliant start and moved to second place very quickly before taking the lead from Kobayashi. However, with just five laps remaining the Frenchman made an error when, just before the safety car came in, he went wide and cut the chicane. Although he retained the lead, at the end of pit straight Kobayashi pushed hard and in trying to defend his position, Romain made Kobayashi go wide and as a result, the ART driver was given a drive through penalty. Meanwhile, Luca had another mechanical failure while in the hunt for points.
Position on grid: 14th
Position on grid: 11th
Position at the championship: 0 point
"The most important thing is that the Spanish weekend is over! It was a very hard season opener. Not in terms of performance but in terms of results. We had some major issues with the gearbox and I think without this we could have fought for the top 4 in qualifying. The rest of the weekend would have been very different as we were faster than the leaders at the end of race 1 where I dropped to last position after Conway sent me into a spin. The car was just fantastic in race 2 and points were in our grasp. Anyway, we'll head to Turkey with a lot of positives: pace, performance and team work are extremely good. I was on pole in Turkey in 2007 and we have what it takes to try and get the same kind of result and to do great in the race this year."
Position on grid: 11th
Position on grid: 4th
Position at the championship: 7th, 4 points
"Even though we're disappointed tonight, there are a lot of positive aspects to this first weekend of the main series. We had our share of problems in practice and qualifying but we recovered in the race. We gained a lot of positions on Saturday and we were the fastest on Sunday. The most important thing is that we found a good basis for setting up the car which we understand better now than during the last Barcelona test. We still have some work to do in order to put everything in place, but it bodes well for the future. Everybody had an eye on us after our title in the Asia series and we proved we are right here and that we should be able to fight for very good results in the main series. Having said that I am still on a learning curve as the second race showed. I did not expect the safety car to stay on the track for just one lap and I let my brakes cool too much. This is a lesson I won't forget, you must never let the carbon disk cool down. As for the penalty, I did need to see the video yet but things looked pretty different from onboard."
Frederic Vasseur: "We've never been that competitive at the start of a season and that's the main thing to keep in mind at the end of the weekend. Once out of traffic Romain and Luca were very fast in the first race and Romain was in a league of his own in race 2. We rarely had such homogeneity inside the team and I'm very optimistic. We'll have to get to grips right at the start of the Turkish weekend and make sure we don't suffer from reliability gremlins to secure points with our two cars in both races. Romain does not know the track but that should not be a problem for him; as for Luca he was excellent in Turkey last year."