ART Grand Prix secured yet another victory in what has been an extremely competitive GP2 Main Series in 2009 with Nico Huelkenberg notching up his fifth win of the season in the final feature race of the year at the Portimao circuit on Saturday.
ART Grand Prix secured yet another victory in what has been an extremely competitive GP2 Main Series in 2009 with Nico Huelkenberg notching up his fifth win of the season in the final feature race of the year at the Portimao circuit on Saturday. This result saw the team secure the championship to top off an exceptional season for the French based squad. Although Nico was disappointed to narrowly miss out on the final pole position of the season, the German racer stormed through when it counted in race one and finished on the top step of the rostrum.
Meanwhile, teammate Pastor Maldonado, who qualified in eighth place, was soon up into P6 and fighting strongly for a top points finish, however he suffered brake problems in the second half of the first race and flat spotted his tyres. Things then became even worse for the Venezuelan driver and he lost several positions by the time the race came to a close.
In race two both drivers were points contenders when the safety car was called out after the Petrov/Herck accident. However, when it was time for the safety car to come in, it went slowly into the pits and the top six runners were trapped and had no choice but to overtake it before it made it into pit lane. As a result, all six were handed a drive through penalty ending any hope of a decent result.
Nico Huelkenberg: "I wasn't happy about not getting the final pole position of the season but I caught up in the race. I made a good start and stayed calm behind Petrov because I knew we were faster and that our time would come. I dove into the pit lane a little earlier than expected, it was short notice but it worked perfectly. The pit stop was top notch and I had a very good out lap. Once in command I pushed hard to open a gap. It was great to win the last feature race of the year and I have to thank ART Grand Prix for this because once again they gave me a great car."
Pastor Maldonado: "We looked for a good set-up all weekend long. In qualifying, I came back into the pits to make two adjustments and the car behaviour was better with new tyres, but I was not entirely happy with it. The next adjustments did not go in the right direction: the grip was bad and I had some braking problems. I made a good start and I was 6th after my pit stop. I came out of the pits as fast as possible to try and get past Rodriguez but it made things worse as I locked the wheels and the problem became even worse with heavily used tyres."
Frederic Vasseur: "It was a great weekend which sums up an exceptional season. ART Grand Prix is champion and Nico was fabulous in the first race, pushing hard when it was needed or being patient when it was better to do so. Pastor's tyres were destroyed in the second part of the race; up to this point, he had the potential to bring home a very good result. On Sunday, the race of the top 6 was ruined by a drive through penalty and it is a shame to end up the season on such a weird note."
-credit: art gp