Onidi Hails Positive GP2 Debut
Three events into the GP2 season it’s already time for a first balance for Fabio Onidi. At his first year in the Series the Italian driver has already bagged two top ten finishes (Bahrain 1 and Bahrain 2), has already clinched a reversed pole (Bahrain 1) and has showed both speed and consistency, something that immediately earned him the praise of his team, Scuderia Coloni, who had never seen such performances from a rookie before.
So Fabio, are you satisfied with the start of your season?
“Well, I would say so. More or less I am where I expected to be: managing to finish steadily in the top ten was my hope and my aim, but at the same time I was expecting a tough start considering that GP2 is the most competitive scenario for a driver nowadays. I was right because the competitiveness level is really stunning, but I must recognize that coping with it is not as difficult as I expected”.
Two top ten finishes are great for a rookie, but what’s your true potential from what you’ve seen up to now?
“It’s much better than that. In the second Bahraini weekend, for example, my ideal lap in Qualifying would have been worth the top 5. I qualified P18 instead, and that gives you an idea of how hard GP2 can be: due to a lot of factors that aren’t depending directly from you or from your team you can struggle in putting your best sectors together. A yellow flag in one lap, a little mistake in another one, and then you get stuck into traffic right when you’re improving. Wasting the session is really easy, but when it happens it means that you’re starting in the middle of the pack, and that your weekend will get bloody difficult”.
The potential for the top 5 is also what you showed in the pre-season testing, and that hinted to a fantastic debut season. Now we can say that the season start was good, but we still haven’t seen that kind of performance in a race.
“It’s true, but that’s mainly because of the tyres. The pace has always been there, we are among the quickest when it comes to raw speed, but we struggled a bit with tyre wear in the first events. This year’s Pirellis are different from the 2011 spec, and while you certainly do long runs in testing you never get to the mileage and the fuel load that you are facing in a real Feature or Sprint Race. So we never got to experience the very high degradation that you have in the last 5-6 laps of a race, the ones that actually gave us some issues in the first events”.
From the outside one would say that the second Bahraini weekend showed some progress in that regard…
“It certainly did, and on both sides. The team made some changes to the car that improved the situation a lot, but at the same time I also realized that my driving style had to change more than I believed at the beginning. You know, in the championships I contested before tyres were never a factor, you could just push from start to finish with no issues: that led me to underestimate a bit how important saving your rubber can be in GP2 in order to be competitive until the end of the race, something that F1 drivers are also experiencing this year: you really have to nurse your tyres in the first laps, avoiding to stress them under acceleration, and you have to look for traction only when the car is in a straight line. If you do that, you can get those extra five laps at the end of the race”.
So what are your expectations for Barcelona?
“Scuderia Coloni dominated the last rounds of the 2011 season, they are working hard to get back there and I’m doing my best to help them, even if I lack some experience. The first thing I hope is to confirm the steps forward we did in Bahrain, and then to add something more to have a very consistent weekend, steadily in the top-ten. But more than everything, I would like to be able to make the most of my potential, get the position I deserve in qualifying and build a good race on it. It’s in my reach, it’s just a matter of time”.