By: Nancy Knapp Schilke
- Grosjean breaks points lead tie
- Van der Garde loses potential win
- Kral to start Sprint race from pole
Grosjean wins race 1 in Valencia thanks to Van der Garde drive through penalty
The GP2 Series drivers had a great street fight in Valencia, Spain, with a surprising outcome. Yesterday, Romain Grosjean commented “… hopefully we can grab the win!” Indeed he did, but he had a bit of help when race leader Giedo van der Garde was handed a penalty for ignoring yellow flags. The drive though the pit lane cost the Dutchman a possible victory. Instead the Frenchman took the win for the DAMS team. Van der Garde recovered and made up enough ground on the 5.419 km temporary circuit to take second followed by Davide Valsecchi in third.
"I'm really happy with our second victory, which has been a long time coming," Grosjean said. "I was well on the pace and the team did a really good job to provide me with a competitive car. It's great that we're now back in the lead. We're not going to rest on our laurels, and we're going to continue fighting tomorrow to open up the gap in the drivers' championship."
Grosjean’s radio was not working, but he knew van der Garde had the lead and was staying in touch with the Addax driver. After the mandatory pit stops, he gave chase and was ready to push hard as the laps wound down so he was surprised to inherit the lead.
“I start to catch Giedo a little bit: the car was much better in the second stint than the first one. And then on the pitboard it said P1 at one point and I thought there is something happening here, for sure!" Grosjean said in the post-race press conference. "For the ten last laps they were quite long, because I didn't want to slow down too much and lose the focus, but the car was brilliant in the second stint and I'm very proud of what the team are doing today, because last year they were basically nowhere here, and beating such a strong team as Addax in their own race is always good!”
It was a strange day for the Barwa Addax Team and it started before the formation lap when pole winner Charles Pic had mechanical problems which forced him to take the start from pit lane at the tail end of the field once the lights went off. His team mate took the early lead with a great start and was in front the entire way, including the pit stops. However ignoring the yellow flag changed his race position and van der Garde dropped to fourth place before clawing his way back to second at the finish. Pic’s luck did not improve and after putting on a good show, he again was sidelined and this time for good.
We're not going to rest on our laurels...
Van der Garde ended up losing the win but knows in racing anything can happen. He was in control after the pit stops as he explained, “After the pitstop the car was handling even better, and I was very pleased with that and quickly built a gap to 5 seconds, so I had that in the pocket. I said okay, we've got the gap so let's control the race, but then I heard we had a drive through. I came in, and after that I think it was a very spectacular race! (laughs)”
Chasing van der Garde at the start were Grosjean, Dani Clos (Racing Engineering), Luca Filippi (Super Nova), and Esteban Gutierrez while others were not so lucky off the line. In the first turn, Alvaro Parente took his Carlin for a spin while Lotus ART’s Jules Bianchi and iSport’s Marcus Ericsson made contact. Fabio Leimer‘s Rapax car was hit by Parente in the ensuing incident. Stuck on the grid was Stefano Coletti (Trident). Of course this brought out the safety car.
On the restart, those behind van der Garde were hoping to make a move but the Dutchman had another terrific start and left his rivals in the dust.
Gutierrez made a mistake in Turn 4 and lost his position to Valsecchi so the Mexican made an early pit stop with the hopes that when others did, he could make up ground. Clos and Filippi ended up with their own battle but after Clos made his move to regain the position, Filippi tried to reply and ended up having to retire.
Valsecchi started 8th on the grid and ended up with the final podium step, and he said, “Yeah, we loved it today! Second from P8, okay: before I was not thinking we would be fast enough to finish in the top five because the feeling with the car was not incredible, so it was a hard race for me and my team.”
Taking fourth was Clos followed by iSport’s Sam Bird who just held off Luiz Razia (Air Asia) for fifth after a race long fight between the two. Gutierrez finished seventh which handed Arden’s Josef Kral the pole for the Sprint race with his eighth place finish.
“We made a very good pit stop and after that I looked after my tyres, which helped me make up places towards the end. It was a nice feeling to pass Michael Herck for eighth and get pole for the sprint race. I would like to thank the team because they did a very good job and I will do my best to pay them back by scoring as many points as possible tomorrow,” said Kral.
Post race penalties
As usual, several drivers received penalties after the race ended which will affect the grid for Sunday's race. The four drivers were cited for "causing avoidable collisions" per the stewards. All four were handed a ten grid position and three of the four were not classified due to the incidents early in the race.
Bianchi, Leimer and Filippi were the ones who retired early while DAMS team driver Paul Varhaug finished 17th but of course will not start from that high of a grid position after he ran into Super Nova's Fairuz Fauzy.
See also Race 1 Results