Heikki Kovalainen achieved today his third victory of the season as the GP2 series disputed race one of its fifth doubleheader at Circuit Nevers of Magny-Cours, in France. Jose Maria Lopez and local driver Nicolas Lapierre filled the other two ...
Heikki Kovalainen achieved today his third victory of the season as the GP2 series disputed race one of its fifth doubleheader at Circuit Nevers of Magny-Cours, in France. Jose Maria Lopez and local driver Nicolas Lapierre filled the other two podium places.
The Finn proved again that he is the man to beat in GP2, with another victory that allows him to keep leading the championship comfortably. Kovalainen started from fourth place, but it wasn't a problem for him to catch the leader on the first lap.
"The start was obviously the key -- I managed to get a really good start and it was close with Premat, but I was on the inside and I thought I don't need to give him any room -- and actually he wasn't giving me any room -- but I just stayed there and grabbed on the wheel and waited until we touched a little bit", Heikki commented.
From that point, the Arden Interntational team and Kovalainen had the right pit strategy the moment the pace car was in. "I saw the safety car signs very early on the lap and I don't know if it was already there on track, but I gave them a call and said 'there's a safety car -- what should we do?' And Mick said we're going to pit now, and I was very surprised to the other guys didn't follow me!", he explained.
Kovalainen, member of the Renault Driver Development program, continued to a clean victory that allows him to lead the standings with a clear difference to his pursuers: "I haven't even looked at the table because it's too early to think about it too much".
Argentinean Lopez finished today as he started the competition: second. The DAMS driver added his third season podium in Magny-Cours. About the development of his race, Lopez said: "In the first part I was having a few problems with the old tyres before the pitstop, and the car was really oversteering and really difficult to control, but we managed to get better and the car was quicker later".
A key moment for Lopez was his pit stop, before the pace car came out to the track. "Yeah, and I think that helped us a lot -- I was unable to catch Premat and Rosberg and Heikki, they were just a little bit quicker than me. I think we had the correct strategy", he said. And it was, because later the Argentinean catched both ART Grand Prix drivers to get second place.
Lopez raced with a rash that he hopes to have gone for tomorrow's sprint competition. "I don't want this anymore!".
Yesterday it was Alexandre Premat with the pole position playing the role of the local hero, but with his third place today, Lapierre had his moment of glory with the French crowd. "It was really important to be in the top here, so it's a good time to be back", he commented.
After a complicated start to tge season, Lapierre took his first podium in GP2 this weekend. "We had quite unlucky races in the beginning, and to be back here in Magny-Cours is great for me and for all the people supporting me".
The Frenchman had to push hard after he lost util ninth in the Estoril turn. "I made a pretty good start but at the hairpin I was in a little bit of trouble, so I finished the first lap in ninth and we wanted to protect the tyres a little because it's a bit difficult to overtake on this track, so we wanted to get a clear lap to push really hard. And we had a really good strategy".
Lapierre is looking foward to what might happpen tomorrow in race two of the weekend. The opportunity is right there in front his people.
Points places were completed by: Adam Carroll, Neel Jani, Hiroshi Yokimoto, Nico Rosberg and Silvio Piccione.
The championship has Kovalainen in the lead with 48 points, with a 15-point gap over Carroll. Gianmaria Bruni and Scott Speed shares third place with 29 points.
Second race of the weekend will take place tomorrow, with 28 laps starting at 10.00 local time.