Arriving early for the Grand Prix on Thursday, some iSport guests were able to get out onto the Valencian street circuit with our drivers in order to check conditions and run through tactics for each corner. The prognosis that the little used roads were dusty was backed up in the free practice session on Friday where the cars fought to find good levels of grip.
As the weekend progressed and more rubber was laid down by on‐track activities grip levels improved a little, with the GP2 qualifying session late on Friday afternoon. Sam Bird set out early and produced the second fastest time of the moment, whilst Marcus Ericsson who had altered his set‐up from the morning’s practice was in tenth. As the teams changed tyres mid‐way through the half hour session, the iSport drivers came into the pits to regroup. As has happened before this season in the GP2 qualifying, the second half of the session was severely disrupted by yellow flags as some of the young drivers pushed hard for a good time. With neither of the iSport drivers getting the chance to put in another hot lap, the team had to be content with starting fifth and tenth on the grid.
Optimistic about the start of Saturday’s feature race, Sam Bird revealed that he has been learning yoga in order to relax and focus the mind. The Karmic boost allowed him to get off the line without incident, but dropping back to p7. Marcus was not so lucky, although his start was typically strong. Whilst carrying good speed into the first corner and on the racing line, Marcus was taken out by ART’s Jules Bianchi who cut across in front of him. Frustration for the Swede again, as his chances for the weekend went up in smoke within the first twenty seconds of the race. A ten place grid penalty for Bianchi was scant consolation as both drivers would be forced to start at the back of the second race anyway. Meanwhile Sam Bird was providing a thrilling drive towards the front of the pack as he hunted down Luis Razia and closed in fast on Dani Clos. Finally running out of track, Bird had to make do with fifth place, just 3 tenths behind Clos.
Sunday’s sprint race saw Marcus Ericsson start from 21st after his accident, with the team adopting an aggressive set‐up to try and catapault him up the table rapidly. Tyre degradation would undoubtedly kick in later in the race, but starting so far back, there was little choice. Sam was starting from p4, and shot off the line. Right on the tail of the front three drivers, a little nudge from behind by DAMS driver Romain Grosjean shunted our man into Razia. A furious Bird had to return for a new front wing before exiting the pits in eighteenth, with the comment that while Grosjean was very fast, he didn’t like traffic much! Contact later in the race saw Sam damage his second front wing, but the British driver refused to pit, preferring to take on the cars around him with the top ailerons missing on his near side. Incredibly he managed to make up six places with his limping car to finish twelfth. Just in front was Marcus, who had made up ten places early in the race before his tyres went away from him.
Another weekend of what if’s saw iSport’s rivals make further ground up, but we continue to show race winning pace. The atmosphere in the team is good and we hope for a little luck at Silverstone along with more points!