Heikki Kovalainen GP2 Vice Champion Heikki Kovalainen finishes third of the first race in the GP2 last round in Bahrain. With 9 points behind Rosberg, Heikki is crowned vice champion; after a fantastic race, Jose Maria Lopez finishes ...
Heikki Kovalainen GP2 Vice Champion
Heikki Kovalainen finishes third of the first race in the GP2 last round in Bahrain. With 9 points behind Rosberg, Heikki is crowned vice champion; after a fantastic race, Jose Maria Lopez finishes 4th.
Members of the Renault Driver Development squad, Heikki Kovalainen and Jose Maria Lopez, finished 3rd and 4th in the second to last race of the GP2 Series championship which took place in Bahrain today. With nine points ahead of Heikki, Nico Rosberg was crowned G2 Champion 2005.
Heikki made a good start, but was third after the first corner. He got back to second in the following corner close to Rosberg. By the end of the first lap, the safety car was brought on as three cars stalled on the grid when the lights went off. Heikki seized this opportunity to make an early compulsory stop. He got back on track in 20th position, but soon benefited from the other drivers' pit-stops to get back on 14th. With a free track ahead of him, Rosberg extended the lead from Lapierre who was then second. At lap 9, Heikki got back into the top 8 with a 40 second gap to the leader. Rosberg pitted at lap 10 at the same time as Lapierre, Pantano and Viso. He got back on track in 4th position in front of Heikki who was already pressured by Premat. Rosberg then passed Negrao and was in second position behind Alavrez who still had to make his pit-stop. He did so at the same time as Negrao. Heikki was back to second position, but 6 seconds behind the leader. He started to fight really hard with Premat but to no avail as the Frenchman finally overtook him and pulled away. However, towards the last few laps, Premat's engine started to smoke and Heikki flew to try and take the position back. Unfortunately, he failed and passed the chequered flag in third position scoring not enough points to keep the battle with Rosberg going until tomorrow. Heikki is crowned vice-champion of the very first GP2 Series Championship.
Argentinean Jose Maria Lopez, 12th, stalled on the grid. Fortunately, he could eventually get moving, but was relegated to 23rd. As the safety car was deployed, Jose made an early pit-stop. He got back on track at the same position and that is when the Lopez Show started. With cars ahead of him pitting and with an absolutely fantastic drive that enabled him to pass 7 cars, Jose got back into the game quite rapidly and was 5th around lap 18. The car in front of him eventually retired after Jose pressured it and the RDD driver took 4th position, quite far from Heikki who was then already 3rd. Jose kept pushing though and put in some impressive lap times. He finished fourth and scored five precious points. He is still standing 10th in the drivers' championship.
Heikki and Jose will start 6th and 5th in tomorrow's race which will consist of 23 laps.
Heikki Kovalainen: "I would like to congratulate both Nico and the ART Grand Prix team for their title. They've worked really hard during this season and they deserve it. As for me, I pushed really hard and did everything I could, but it was just not enough today. My tyres were deteriorating quite rapidly and my water temperature was rising too. I am disappointed that the season is over, but I'm still glad that I finished second of the championship. I have had a strong season and I've learned at lot. There have been great battles and tough competition. I think the GP2 Series has a great future ahead of it."
Jose Maria Lopez: "The car stalled on the grid and I lost position to 23rd. We gambled and pitted very early which paid off as I've raced the race of my life! Between the cars I overtook and those which pitted, I passed 19 drivers overall. When I saw that I was 5th, I was really surprised. I am particularly happy because we had tough qualification sessions this morning. We worked on the car for the race and found a great set-up. Towards the end of the race, I was as quick as the front-runners! It's a shame that we found those solutions when it is the last round, but better late than never. I will start 5th tomorrow, so anything could happen. I could get on the podium!"