By: David C. Schilke
Driving for Scuderia Coloni for the first time this season, Luca Filippi used the most of the team’s resources to take today’s feature race held at the Nurburing GP-Stecke Circuit. The key moment of the race occurred in the pits, when Charles Pic made his stop as the race leader, only to emerge second after Filippi went one lap further in open air. Romain Grosjean kept in touch with the leading pair to secure more points for his title bid, but the battle centered on Filippi and Pic as the last laps threatened rain. The unpredictable Nurburg weather held off, handing Filippi and Scuderia Coloni their first win in 2011.
"I couldn't believe it because today everything went so well," smiled Filippi, "from the pitstop when we decided to pit one lap after him so I pushed really hard on old tyres while he had cold tyres, and I really pushed at the pit entry 100%, almost to the guardrail!"
I couldn't believe it because today everything went so well
Filippi started the season with Super Nova racing in both GP2 and the Auto GP series. The Super Nova team valued the Italian’s development of their GP2 chassis, which resulted in a podium in Monaco. Sadly, budgetary constraints meant Filippi had to relinquish the seat to Adam Carroll, who had a paying sponsor backing him. While out of GP2, Filippi stayed on as a Super Nova driver in the Auto GP series and he currently leads that series’ championship.
Filippi wasn’t without a ride for long in GP2 as Scuderia Coloni were eager to sign him for the Nurburgring weekend. This relationship started in Italy for the impromptu second round of the 2011 GP2 Asia Series. Sadly, that weekend wasn’t a success for the Italian on home soil but Scuderia Coloni enjoyed working with Filippi. This weekend Filippi’s luck has been dramatically better, with a front row start turning into the featured win in his second time ever running with the team. Filippi has now lifted into the top 10 for the championship, including the extra point for the fastest lap.
"All the mechanics were motivated, everybody really wanted a great performance, and I was really able to see in their eyes how much they wanted this victory. Until now for them the season wasn't so great: obviously they were very unlucky when Rigon was injured, and Ceccon did a great job but obviously he is a rookie, and once they had a chance to show how they are they did everything perfectly!"
Closer to the top of the points standings, Charles Pic fought hard to earn today’s feature race win. Filippi pressured the Frenchman all the way to the mandatory stop and unfortunately for the Addax driver, pitting early cost him the lead. Yet the tables were quickly turned as Pic then set his sights on Filippi. With Grosjean in third and ready to pounce the battle for the lead was a fair fight, with no one making any desperate moves. In the end Filippi crossed the line with over 5 second of breathing room with Pic and Grosjean closer together.
"The first part before the pitstop was good," explained Pic, "and I was able to manage the gap with Luca and also to break the gap. After the pitstop I exited behind him, and on the second part of the race he was faster than us. But P2 is a good result: I think today we were able to make a better result but maybe we didn't make all the right decisions at the right moment. We still have to work and focus on the next races, but P2 is a good result."
It was obvious in the post-race press conference Grosjean was not happy with his cat today, "I was quite careful at the start: I was side by side with Luca and I saw he locked the wheel so he couldn't turn, and I had to wait a bit for him to open the line so Jules could find a way past. Then we had to manage and to see what Giedo was doing, and he pitted very early: basically we had to go to the pits before them (Luca and Charles), and I knew it was not the best way to win the race! When you don't have the performance to win you have to take what you can get, and today the car was not great: we did some mistakes, and P3 is a good result when you have a bad car."
Jules Bianchi crossed the line in fourth, making no improvement on his qualifying position. Marcus Ericsson was able to push his way in to fifth, dropping Giedo van der Garde down a spot. The Dutchman still keeps second in the points even with a sixth place finish. Seventh and eighth went to Dani Clos and Sam Bird respectively.
The one safety car period was brought out by Pal Varhaug and Kevin Mirocha as the pair tangled together. There were a few good fights after the restart but for the most part the battles today happened in the pits as all the teams scratched their heads on how long the Pirelli tyers would last.
With the longer race out of the way for the weekend, the data has been collected and the teams will be on to the sprint race tomorrow. The top eight will be flipped for tomorrow and Bird will lead the field with Clos alongside. With van der Garde and Ericsson on the second row, all drivers in the top four are capable of fighting for victory. Add the region’s penchant for unexpected and sudden rain storms, and there is no clear favorite for tomorrow’s race.
Two driver's were handed sever penalties for their actions in today's feature race. Pal Varhaug was dropped ten grid places for tomorrow's race as punishment for bringing out the safety car on the first lap. Varhaug was forced to retire, so he was already at the back for the sprint race grid.
Fabio Leimer faced a stronger reprimand for being involved in two incidents today. Lemier first spun Adam Carroll, and then went on to force Luiz Razia out of the race a few laps later. The Rapax driver was excluded by the officials for his actions, and will start dead last in tomorrow's race.