The GP2 season opener did not go as planned for title hopeful Alexander Rossi.
Qualifying - Friday 4th April
Car #19 - Alexander Rossi - P15 (1:39.651)
Tires: P Zero soft
Weather: Air temp 26˚C / Track temp 32˚C - Dry
Feature Race - Saturday 5th April
Car #19 - Alexander Rossi - P22
Race Distance: 173.184km
Tires: P Zero soft - pit to - P Zero hard
Weather: Air temp 32˚C / track temp 46˚C - Dry
Sprint Race - Sunday 6th April 2014
Car #19 - Alexander Rossi - P25
Race distance: 124.476kn
Tires: P Zero hard
Weather: Air temp 34˚C / track temp 44˚C - Dry
The GP2 season opener in Bahrain proved to have plenty of bad luck for Alexander Rossi and EQ8 Caterham Racing. Following an extremely positive pre-season test where Alexander topped the times, the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend was unfortunately one to forget.
Despite the disappointing grid position Alexander rose up through the field. With the safety car being deployed on lap two Alexander took the opportunity to switch to the prime tire as soon as the pit window opened with the aim of gaining track position from pit intervals and a clear track ahead. Following the stop with 27 laps remaining, both Alexander and his team mate experienced extremely high tire degradation. Neither driver was able to maintain a reasonable pace or protect their tires to the end. With strong pace in pre-season testing this came as a bit of surprise to the whole team, reviewing and making immediate changes for Sunday’s sprint race.
Alexander lined up 22nd for Sunday’s sprint race and the car proved to have better pace as he moved up to 13th position by lap two. Bad luck struck again after contact from behind on lap two caused a right rear puncture forcing him to pit for replacement tires. With this set back the team used the remaining 20 laps of the sprint race as a test session for both the prime and option tires while evaluating the overall race pace. Alexander took the chequered flag 25th after two pit stops, a set-up change and setting the quickest lap of race, 1:45.344. Overall it was a very difficult GP2 opener following great preparation and pre-season testing in the lead up to the Bahrain race weekend.
“For race one we knew early on that my set up would not protect the tires from excessive degradation. After the pit stop for hard tires, it was going to be difficult to stretch the tires 27 laps, as I struggled with oversteer and traction way too early in the run. I did the best to manage it, to hold and fight for positions but in the end the tire degradation was way too high and my lap times fell off about five seconds per lap from the leaders. From 20th position the team and I decided to pit again to check pressures and collect data for race two.
“Starting 22nd for race two the car was much better. I had a clean start and was able to grab ten positions in the opening lap but on lap two I was clipped on my right rear leaving a puncture, forcing a pit stop. After pitting for replacement tires we set the quickest lap of the race and also verified that our tire degradation was much less than Saturday’s race.
“Finishing 22nd and 25th in the opening rounds was not a remote thought coming into the weekend, but fortunately our bad luck is now out of the way. We now have a really good understanding of the tire for qualifying and the race so I look forward to Barcelona for a full reset next month and the actual beginning of our season.”
The next round of the GP2 Series will see Alexander return to Barcelona, Spain, on Friday 9th May 2014.