Hamilton and Piquet top first 2006 test GP2 series rookie Lewis Hamilton (ART Grand Prix) and second year driver Nelson Piquet Jr (Piquet Sports) topped the timesheets at Circuit Paul Ricard on days one and two respectively of the first GP2...
Hamilton and Piquet top first 2006 test
GP2 series rookie Lewis Hamilton (ART Grand Prix) and second year driver Nelson Piquet Jr (Piquet Sports) topped the timesheets at Circuit Paul Ricard on days one and two respectively of the first GP2 series test of 2006. Hamilton's time of 1:12.838, set late on Wednesday afternoon was the overall fastest time of the two day session, eclipsing the previous best lap set in a 2005 GP2 series group test on the "3D" 3.853km track solution by almost three seconds.
Second quickest over the two day test was Jose Maria Lopez for Super Nova International, whose time of 1:12.957 on day one placed him just a tenth of a second off Lewis' best. Nelson's lap of 1:13.068, set in the afternoon of day two, saw him finish the test third overall.
The two days of running in the South of France saw the debut of Bridgestone's new slick tyres, which the GP2 series will use in the 2006 season. Their speed was evident from the outset, but with a reduction in rear-end downforce thanks to a new "bi-plane" rear wing replacing the "tri- plane" seen in 2005, the complexities of the transition made the test a demanding one. Every team and driver, no matter their experience of the GP2 series car, had a very different beast to tame over the two days. With so many new variables to take into consideration, the test formed the perfect basis for everyone to prepare for the 2006 season.
The two day session saw the official debuts of 12 new GP2 series drivers, and the speed with which they were up to pace with their second year rivals has left no-one in any doubt as to the level of competition we can expect this year. The test also saw the first track running for our two new teams, Trident Racing and FMS International. They, like all the rookies present, made fantastic use of their time, settling in quickly and efficiently.
The GP2 series now looks towards its next test session, to be held again at Circuit Paul Ricard on March 16-17. With just over a month, and just six further days of testing to go until our first race weekend in Valencia on April 8-9, anticipation couldn't be higher.