Second-year GP2 driver Luca Filippi opened the 2007 season with a storm, taking a victory in Bahrain after clinching the pole yesterday for the GP2 Series' first race of 2007. Filippi was never a front-runner in 2006, achieving a best result of...
Second-year GP2 driver Luca Filippi opened the 2007 season with a storm, taking a victory in Bahrain after clinching the pole yesterday for the GP2 Series' first race of 2007.
Filippi was never a front-runner in 2006, achieving a best result of 7th for the year, driving for BCN International and Giancarlo Fisichella's FMS International. However, for 2007, he signed up for the resurgen Super Nova team, and the results are speaking for themselves.
"It's a great feeling," Filippi said. "The championship really started in the winter, last November, because we had to build up the team and the cars and to get ready for the first race, because we wanted to come here and be ready. I really wanted to have a good start to show everybody what is my target, what is my goal, and really I have no words."
The young Italian had a perfect start, and was ahead of the field going into the first corner. Timo Glock, his former teammate at BCN, was on Filippi's tail on the early laps after surviving a second-corner tangle with Xandi Negrao, and stayed close through the first round of pit stops.
However, Glock, now driving for iSport, was having some tire troubles and could not quite match Filippi's pace after that, and eventually finished 8.162 seconds behind.
"Unfortunately I locked up the front left tyre as well on the second or third lap as we came up to first corner," Glock explained. "I don't know what happened but there was a bit of fluid on the ground."
"I tried to get a gap to (iSport teammate Andi Zuber) to save a little time and change all four tyres," Glock explained his pit strategy. "My engineer said that will not work out because when you change all four tyres it takes 3 or 4 seconds longer and we would come out behind (Bruno) Senna. So I made the decision to only change the rear tyres. After the pit stop for the first few laps I could go at a pretty good pace but from that point on there was no chance to catch up to Filippi because the front left was too bad and the suspension was bent."
Zuber, then, was third in the second iSport car, having barely survived the Glock-Negrao impact himself; Zuber ended up hitting Glock and and damaging his front wing in the process.
"I think I damaged my front wing quite a bit," he explained. "I had quite a bit of understeer in the beginning and then quite a lot of oversteer. My pace was quite okay, and a little bit of oversteering, but otherwise I could have been a bit quicker. "
In the event, though, Zuber finished some 3.8 seconds adrift of Glock, but still over four seconds in front of Senna, the top rookie in the season's first race, in the first of the Arden International entries.
"Our race pace was quite competitive," Senna reflected on his first GP2 race. "We still need a little bit here and a little bit there, but in general it was okay. It was the first time I drove the car with 90 kilos of fuel in so I struggled in the first few laps with that -- I didn't know how the car would behave, and it behaved a bit differently from how I was expecting, so I made a few mistakes which almost allowed (Lucas di Grassi) to overtake."
di Grassi couldn't keep up the pressure on Senna, though, and finished the race in fifth place in the top ART entry. He was followed home by Adrian Zaugg (Arden), Nicolas Lapierre (DAMS) and Borja Garcia (Durango).
The grid for the second race is based on today's race results, but with the top eight drivers inverted. As a result, Filippi and Glock have their work cut out for them, starting from eighth and seventh positions, respectively, while Garcia will start from pole position.
Garcia, back in GP2 after a season in the World Series by Renault -- where he finished second in the points -- was thrilled with his return to the GP2 series.
"I'm very happy," the Spaniard smiled. "It's the first race and I made the points, and tomorrow I start in the pole position. For today the car was very good, especially after we changed the tyres. I think if I do a good start tomorrow it's possible to win or at least finish well in the race."