The fickle Eifel weather played a major part in this morning’s GP2 Series sprint race, with drivers starting on wet tyres and gradually filtering into the pits to switch to slicks as the track dried. Some sections of the circuit remained treacherous to the end, though, and many drivers were caught out as a consequence.
Arden racer Jolyon Palmer drove a sensational opening lap to rise from 19th to 10th, then held station in the thick of a busy midfield group before pitting for dry tyres on lap 12. He remained on course for a strong finish, but with six laps remaining Davide Valsecchi (Team AirAsia) ran into him at Turn One and both drivers were forced to retire.
Palmer’s team-mate Josef Kral was mired towards the back of the field when the circuit was at its wettest, but began lapping competitively after switching to slicks on lap 13. He gained several positions as the race drew to a close and eventually finished 11th.
“I made a very bad start, with lots of wheelspin, and it took me quite a while to get the rear tyres hooked up. By that stage I’d already lost a few positions. I tried to close the gap to the cars ahead as the race settled down, but it was difficult to overtake – partly because of the spray, partly because it was much wetter off the racing line. A soft brake pedal caused me a few problems, too.
“The team did a really good job at my pit stop, although I then undid some of that by spinning at the first corner. Things picked up as the track became drier, though, and I was pleased with both my pace and, all things considered, the final result. I know things will be much better next weekend in Budapest. It’s a circuit I know well and I have won races there in the past, in the Formula Masters series, so I expect to challenge for points.”
“I had a very good first lap and overtook lots of cars. After that it was a fairly busy race, with lots of midfield battles and the changing conditions adding a strategic element. The car felt as good on slicks as it had on wets, but then Davide Valsecchi hit me as he was coming out of the pits on cold tyres. I’m due a change of luck soon, though, and hope to bounce back in Hungary.”