Adrian Quaife-Hobbs delivered two excellent race performances in Bahrain over the weekend, 20th/21st April, during the second event of the 2013 GP2 Series – the category rookie securing his, and MP Motorsport’s, first points in the FIA Formula One World Championship support category.
Marking a huge step forward for the Westmaas-based squad and the British rookie, seventh position in the weekend’s opening ‘pit-stop’ race at the Sakhir circuit on Saturday and eighth in Sunday’s fourth round hoisted MP Motorsport into ninth place in the entrant standings.
Traced to an issue with the steering wheel, the team fitted a replacement for Sunday’s ‘Sprint Race’ where De Jong fought through impressively from the back of the 26 car grid and concluded the encounter in 18th position.
“It’s been a great weekend overall for the team with Adrian’s two results, but we’re obviously really disappointed for Daniël”, said MP Motorsport team principal Sander Dorsman, “We changed some parts when he pitted but, in the end, it appeared to be the steering wheel so we replaced that for race two and everything was fine then.
“For Adrian, it was a really strong weekend and he showed great pace. His qualifying was good and in race one, we managed to make our strategy of going long into the race work well. In the last laps on the soft tyres he did a really great job too, it’s great to have our first points in GP2.”
While De Jong had the bitter disappointment of a swift retirement from round three, Quaife-Hobbs benefited before the lights went out when Marcus Ericsson encountered problems and so the MP Motorsport racer effectively started from seventh place. He had qualified a superb eighth, just 0.4 seconds off the front row.
Getting away well, the Briton moved into the top six on the outside of the first turn but was elbowed back to seventh at turn three. Moving back into sixth on lap eight, Quaife-Hobbs continued to gain places during the next few laps as more and more drivers took their mandatory tyre-change stops.
At one third distance, the MP Motorsport driver had the lead of the race and looked after his hard compound Pirellis impressively all the way to his pit-stop with 11 laps remaining. Emerging back out at the tail of the top 10, Quaife-Hobbs worked his way into eighth and closed down the cars ahead with some superb laps.
Making the most of his fresher soft tyres, he closed down Simon Trummer for seventh and made the place his at the end of lap 28. During the closing stages Tom Dillmann, who also passed Trummer, piled on the pressure but Quaife-Hobbs held firm to claim a fantastic result.
With the finish securing a second place start for round four on the ‘reverse grid’, Quaife-Hobbs fought valiantly throughout but had to give best to some of the more experienced GP2 competitors and took a nonetheless strong eighth place finish to bag his second points score of the weekend.
De Jong, lining up on the back row after Saturday’s retirement, made a great start and climbed into 18th position early on before being edged back outside the top 20. Into the final stages, the Dutch youngster broke back into 19th place and took 18th before the finish.