Bridgestone Motorsport's GP2 Asia Series Report The inaugural Bridgestone supplied GP2 Asia Series came to a close today at the Dubai Autodrome with the first ever GP2 Asia Series Champion, Romain Grosjean, having to settle for just the one win...
Bridgestone Motorsport's GP2 Asia Series Report
The inaugural Bridgestone supplied GP2 Asia Series came to a close today at the Dubai Autodrome with the first ever GP2 Asia Series Champion, Romain Grosjean, having to settle for just the one win in Friday's Feature Race after failing to finish today's Sprint. The Frenchman had already sealed the Series title at the previous round in Bahrain and will be presented with his $50,000 Bridgestone Prize in Spain in two weeks time. Claiming Sprint Race honours today was Italian Marco Bonanomi (Piquet Sports) but it was Trust Team Arden driver Sebastien Buemi who confirmed his second place in the drivers' championship with an impressive pair of second places this weekend. ART Grand Prix take the Teams' Championship.
Weather conditions over the two day race meeting were significantly warmer than when the teams first visited Dubai at the end of January. With track temperatures up to 53 degrees Celsius, the drivers found that their Bridgestone Potenza GP2 hard compound slicks came up to temperature and pressure far quicker than during the first round of the series. However, they did still have to contend with a sandy track.
It was the ART Grand Prix driver, Grosjean however, who got the weekend off to a flying start by taking pole position on new tyres with a time of 1m40.887s on lap ten of the 30-minute qualifying session. Second on the grid for the 34-lap Feature Race was Brazilian Bruno Senna (iSport International) with Kamui Kobayashi (Dams) and Bonanomi qualifying third and fourth. At the race start though, Kobayashi stalled on the grid, as did Armaan Ebrahim (DPR), and after a great getaway by Senna, the order after four laps was Senna, Sebastien Buemi (Trust Arden), Grosjean and Yelmer Buurman (Trust Arden). Of the leading pack, Buurman was the first to change tyres but a communication problem between the race leader Senna and his team meant only his left rear tyre was changed on lap 14 when he had wanted both left side tyres changed. As it is compulsory to change two tyres, he pitted again on lap 30 when his right rear tyre was changed. He rejoined in ninth position but was later excluded. Grosjean, who had earlier passed Buemi on lap 27, inherited the lead to take the win 1.933 seconds ahead of the Swiss. He in turn was followed by Buurman, Vitaly Petrov (Barwa International Campos Team), Hiroki Yoshimoto (Qi Meritus Mahara), Bonanomi, Jerome D'Ambrosio (Dams) and Milos Pavlovic (BCN Competicion), thereby setting the reversed grid for Saturday's safety car interrupted 23-lap Sprint Race.
D'Ambrosio and Bonanomi took full advantage today of their starting grid positions with D'Ambrosio leading the first lap while pole sitter Pavlovic stopped on track. Seventh placed starter Buemi however, climbed to third by the end of lap one and by the end of lap two, both he and Bonanomi had gained another place with D'Ambrosio slipping back to third. Grosjean meanwhile failed to finish his second consecutive Sprint Race after retiring on lap 11. Bonanomi took the chequered flag 0.516 seconds ahead of Buemi with D'Ambrosio third.
Final standings in the Drivers' Championship confirm Grosjean's title with 61 points, 24 ahead of Buemi on 37 points while Petrov finished his season third on 33 points. In the Teams' Championship, ART Grand Prix took the title with 61 points while the Trust Team Arden and Barwa International Campos Team followed on 50 and 39 points respectively. With the GP2 Asia Series now at a close, teams and drivers will be quickly turning their attention to the fourth season of the European based GP2 Series, the first round of which will take place as a support to the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix on 26-27 April.
Quote from Hiroshi Imai - Technical Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development:
"The drivers benefitted from this week's high temperatures, enabling the tyre treads to warm up more efficiently than in January and to provide good, consistent Bridgestone tyre performance. The track surface was sandy and the wind posed some car handling problems for the drivers but we are confident they were happy with our products this weekend. Overall, we are very pleased with the way the inaugural GP2 Asia Series has gone this year. Our logistics and tyre servicing have gone smoothly and although engine power is less than in the Europe based series, cornering speeds are the same so it still provided an interesting challenge for us. Congratulations to Romain Grosjean and the ART Grand Prix team and we now look forward to an exciting new season with GP2 in Europe."