By David C. Schilke
Starting from pole Swiss driver Fabio Leimer charged off the line and kept the lead through an early restart to equal his 2010 sprint victory at the Catalunya circuit near Barcelona, Spain. The Rapax driver was in complete control today and cleared ten seconds to Dani Clos, who was a further ten seconds ahead of third placed Marcus Ericsson. For Leimer, today’s sprint victory lifted him to seventh in the championship after a disappointing start to the season in Turkey yielded zero points.
After the race Leimer was all smiles in his interview with GP2 media, “When you start first and have a good start then it is actually easy because you have nobody in front of you, you have clear air, and then you can do your own race. Actually yeah it was really easy, the only thing was to get away at the start and that was perfect, then Dani was my only race, I just managed the tyres and it was perfect. The team did a really good job this weekend.”
It was really easy, the only thing was to get away at the start and that was perfect.
Leimer finished yesterday’s feature race in ninth and almost missed out on pole had it not been for Romaine Grosjean’s penalty. With Grosjean removed from the top eight Leimer was handed pole and the chance to dominate in clear air and save tyers. Much like their bigger brother Formula One cars, the GP2 aero package makes passing difficult. Add to that extreme tire wear when a driver pushes after a rival and they may just fall behind. A fact Clos knows so well after trying to chase Leimer all day after jumping past Jules Bianchi off the line.
“Now with the tyres it's really difficult to make a show: at the end we can only maintain and try to drive as smooth as possible, and it's really tricky to keep the car at the track and not have a big drop off,” explained Clos. “This year is going to be tough because we will have to risk in the first laps, and then the one who has the pace and the one who maintains the tyre will be the one who keeps the position. It's tough, but I think we've done a really good stop since yesterday, we've done a really big step from Turkey, the team and I are really happy and just pushing really hard.”
Ericsson was able to get past Bianchi struggling at the start and held position in third until the end of the race. Things were much worse for Bianchi, as he fought to retain position with Guide van der Garde, taking both the Dutchman out and himself out. Bianchi and van der Garde each suffered a huge points loss. Van der Garde is now tied with Sam Bird for the title lead. Bianchi sits only ninth in points after being favored to challenge for the championship this season.
Towards the end of the race Stefano Coletti and Josef Kral battled over fifth position in the closing laps. Side by side each driver tried to force the other to back down, but neither did and their race was over a lap early.
Behind Ericsson was Davide Valsecchi in fourth, Sam Bird finished fifth and keeps the points lead, this time tied with van der Garde. Malaysia’s Fairuz Fauzy earned sixth and the final point after Kral and Coletti crashed out. Grosjean crossed the line ninth and sits fourth in the championship behind Charles Pic, who had a rough race after yesterday’s win.
Next week is the historic Monaco GP. This is the one the teams and drivers look forward too, the chance to shine in the glamour and fame of the Monte Carlo circuit. The weekend is slightly altered for Monaco, with qualifying on Thursday and the races spanning Friday and Saturday. Look to Motorsport.com for all Monaco coverage.