Italian driver Giorgio Pantano (Racing Engineering) has been crowned champion of the 2008 Bridgestone- backed GP2 Series after two exciting races at Monza for the season finale. Pantano was crowned champion after Saturday's thrilling feature race...
Italian driver Giorgio Pantano (Racing Engineering) has been crowned champion of the 2008 Bridgestone- backed GP2 Series after two exciting races at Monza for the season finale. Pantano was crowned champion after Saturday's thrilling feature race where he finished tenth but championship rival Bruno Senna (iSport International) finished fifth leaving the title out of the Brazilian's reach. Pantano will collect the Bridgestone Prize of US $100,000 as the 2008 GP2 Series Drivers' Champion at the Series awards ceremony on Sunday night.
In an eventful season end at Monza, home of the Italian Formula One Grand Prix, Lucas di Grassi (Barwa International Campos Team) and Davide Valsecchi (Durango) took race wins in difficult wet conditions which were a contrast to the weather usually seen for this event.
Standing water on track meant that Saturday's 32 lap race started behind the safety car with the majority of competitors on Bridgestone's wet weather GP2 Series tyre. Pole sitter Pantano led from the start until lap 28 when di Grassi took the lead from the Italian to finish on the top step the podium, ahead of Pastor Maldonado (Piquet Sports) and Sebastien Buemi (Trust Team Arden). Pantano finished tenth after he was issued with a drive through penalty for crossing the white line when exiting the pit lane after making his compulsory pit stop, changing, like most of the field, from the wet to the medium compound dry tyre. Senna, starting from 12th on the grid, managed to work his way up to fifth place but it was just not enough to keep in contention for the championship. Maldonado took the point for the fastest lap as Mike Conway (Trident Racing), who went faster, was not within the top ten finishers.
Sunday's 21 lap sprint race took place on a damp track, and there was no safety car start this time. All runners were on Bridgestone's wet tyres for the duration of the race on the drying circuit. Valsecchi started from pole and won the race by 9.0 seconds from Roldan Rodriguez (Fisichella Motor Sport International), who overtook Valsecchi at the start, but lost the position on the eighth lap. Romain Grosjean (ART Grand Prix) finished third. The point for fastest lap went to Pantano as Andy Soucek (Super Nova Racing), who went faster, did not finish in the top ten.
This was a thrilling end to the fourth season of the GP2 Series, all seasons having been played out on Bridgestone Potenza tyres. Since starting in April at Barcelona, there have been twelve different winners during the course of the year. Bridgestone's hard, medium and super soft compound Potenza GP2 Series slicks and wet weather tyres, which were produced for the first time in Bridgestone's Technical Centre in Rome, have been used to great effect for exciting racing in Formula One's feeder series.
Pantano secured the drivers' championship on 76 points, 12 points ahead of Senna on 64. Lucas di Grassi finished in third on 63 points. This year the teams' championship went to Barwa International Campos Team on 103 points, with iSport International taking second on 95. Piquet Sports finished third with 92.
Quote from Kentaro Yamamoto - Bridgestone Motorsport GP2 Series Engineer,
"Congratulations to Giorgio Pantano and Campos for well deserved championship victories in Monza today. Our wet tyres have performed well for the season finale. We saw strong performances from di Grassi on Saturday and Valsecchi on Sunday to take well deserved race wins. Our GP2 wet tyre is designed to work well on a drying track as its wear profile changes the tyre from a full wet tyre to one with good dry characteristics, and the drivers who took advantage of this did well here." Continued overleaf--
Quote from Franco Annunziato, Managing Director, Bridgestone Technical Centre Europe, Rome
"Congratulations to Giorgio Pantano for winning the drivers' championship and Campos for winning the teams' title. This was the first GP2 Series season where all of the tyres have been produced in Rome and I am proud of the performance and consistency of our tyres throughout this season, and I think this has helped produce exciting racing in this great Renault and Bridgestone supported series."