Turkish Delight Eludes Arden Duo
A race ripe with promise ended rather disappointingly for Arden International as the 2011 GP2 Series began at Istanbul Park, Turkey. Josef Kral made a flying start from ninth on the grid and ran as high as sixth before his mandatory tyre stop, but he rejoined in the heat of a ferocious midfield battle and was subsequently unable to rediscover his earlier pace. His hopes of a points finish faded with each passing lap and he eventually crossed the line in 13th position.
Team-mate Jolyon Palmer lost time avoiding a spectacular first-lap accident that triggered an early safety car period. Max Chilton (Carlin) and Fabio Leimer (Rapax) collided at Turn Two and the Swiss driver’s car somersaulted off the circuit. Running just behind, Palmer had no option but to run wide and that cost him a few places. He then engaged in an entertaining duel with Davide Valsecchi (Team AirAsia), but the two cars touched on lap six and Palmer was forced to pit for a fresh front wing. That dropped him towards the tail of the field and he went on to finish 17th.
“I made a very good start and then took care behind the safety car, making sure I kept my tyres and brakes up to temperature. My lap times were good after the restart and I was easily able to keep pace with the group of cars ahead. Things went wrong after my pit stop, however, because I had horrible understeer on the second set of tyres. After that it was a big fight just to stay on the circuit. I was really struggling with the tyres and one of them was down to the canvas by the end. We can learn useful lessons from what happened today, though, and I know we’ll be able to improve the car for the sprint race.”
“The race didn’t begin too well, because I had to take action to avoid the accident just ahead, but the car seemed to be running OK after the restart. Unfortunately, though, I made a mistake and damaged the front of the car, so had to pit to change the nose and tyres. When I rejoined it felt like the loneliest race of my life, but I put my head down and tried to focus on setting good lap times. Barring a miracle, though, it was clear that I wasn’t going to achieve a decent result. The second stint became harder, too, because the tyres were on for a long time and started to degrade, so the balance of the car was becoming worse. It will be hard pushing for points from 17th on the grid in the sprint race, but I’ll do what I can to blitz my way into the top 10.”