Bridgestone Motorsport's GP2 Series Report
Giorgio Pantano (Racing Engineering) and Romain Grosjean (ART Grand Prix) both took race wins in the second round of the Bridgestone-supported GP2 Series at the Istanbul Park circuit in Turkey.
Italian driver Pantano led Saturday's feature race from start to finish, after qualifying on pole, making this his sixth ever win in the GP2 Series. Frenchman Grosjean took his first win of the European GP2 Series in Sunday's sprint race after starting from seventh on the grid.
Bridgestone's hard compound Potenza GP2 racing slick was used this weekend in Turkey for its second and final appearance of the season. The anticlockwise nature of this track means that the tyres on the right hand side of the cars are put under particular stress, but despite this there were no tyre issues.
In Saturday's 34 lap race, Pantano had a clear lead over Grosjean and Andreas Zuber (Piquet Sports) who closely fought for second place. Grosjean passed Adam Carroll (FMS) and Zuber at the start to follow Pantano into the first corner and was challenged throughout the race by Zuber who finished third. Alberto Valerio (Durango) spun on lap 24 resulting in the safety car which gave the top three drivers a chance to make their pit stops, holding their positions. Before the safety car Pantano held a 7.8 second lead over Grosjean. The fastest lap time was set on the penultimate lap by Zuber.
At the start of Sunday's 23 lap sprint race Vitaly Petrov (Campos) moved up to first place, followed by Sebastien Buemi (Arden), Javier Villa (Racing Engineering) and Grosjean. Carroll, starting from pole, suffered a clutch failure. An eventful first lap caused the safety car to be deployed coming out again later for an incident which involved Bruno Senna (iSport International) by which time Grosjean had already overtaken race leader Petrov on lap 11. Petrov finished in second, Buemi in third. Grosjean set the fastest lap and finished over eight seconds ahead of Petrov.
Leaving Turkey, Pantano leads the drivers' championship on 24 points from Grosjean who has 19. Buemi is in third position on 14 points. Racing Engineering leads the teams' championship with 27 points from ART Grand Prix on 19. iSport International are in third place on 16. The next round of the GP2 Series will be held on the streets of Monaco where Bridgestone's super soft compound GP2 Series tyre will be used. This round will be the first time that two GP2 Series races will take place at the Principality as opposed to the single race held in previous seasons.
Quote from Hirohide Hamashima - Director of Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development
"The tyres performed well during the feature race with the top drivers showing consistent lap times using the same set from the start up until the safety car. The tyre wear in race one was good especially considering the fastest lap times were 2.1 seconds quicker than those set here last year, this being due to the new GP2 / 08 car and the cooler weather conditions. Lap time improvements compared to last year were greater here than in Barcelona and much closer to Formula One. We are very happy this weekend with the performance of our Bridgestone Potenza tyres made in Rome as this is probably the hardest circuit on the GP2 calendar."