Grand Prix finished the season opening round of the GP2 Main Series at the Spanish Grand Prix with two points finishes courtesy of Pastor Maldonado. The most important thing this weekend was to find a good pace and a good level of performance from...
Grand Prix finished the season opening round of the GP2 Main Series at the Spanish Grand Prix with two points finishes courtesy of Pastor Maldonado. The most important thing this weekend was to find a good pace and a good level of performance from the beginning and ART GP certainly hit their target with both drivers, Nico Huelkenberg and Pastor Maldonado. Nico Huelkenberg qualified fourth on the grid for race one but problems at the start and during his pit stop, as well as a drive through penalty saw the German drop back to 18th.
A brilliant drive back through the field saw him eventually finish in ninth place, the worst one and not a good reward after a first class speed for his first appearance in the GP2 Main Series. In race two he was fighting his way back up into the points when another driver hit him from behind and made him spin.
Meanwhile, Pastor Maldonado qualified tenth for race one after being hampered in traffic and after a superb drive crossed the line in fifth. On the reversed grid for race two, this meant he started fourth but a chaotic start saw him drop back to tenth behind his teammate. From there he overtook no less than four drivers to secure the final point of the afternoon. The team now heads to Monaco for round two where they can aim for strong results as well as strong performance.
The week-end was not too bad. The car is getting better and better and we improved a lot from the first to the last lap in Barcelona. The problem is that the tyres were good enough for one quick lap and then they'd lose at least 3 or 4 tenths of a second so when you pick up some traffic like I did there's no way to be up front. But we worked very hard for the long stints this winter and it paid off. I pitted late in the race and we changed all four tyres which was really a great move because I was much faster than all the others at the end of race 1. I did not want to take any risks but I could push hard and overtake several cars and I enjoyed myself very much. Same thing in race 2 with an even better car. The changes we made were heading in the right direction, I was very confident and I was really fast. I wanted to secure some good points because it is important to start the championship on the right foot. We have improved a lot already and I hope we will definitely be able to close the gap in Monaco. The podium and the win will be our target!
Rookie or not, I can't be satisfied by this weekend. It was a tough one and we came back with no points which was certainly not our goal. Qualifying was good even though I think second position could have been ours. But the worst was to come. I released the clutch too quick at the start of race one and it triggered the antistall system. I had to take the clutch again and I really started my race in 19th position. I overtook several cars and we made a late pit stop to try and recover from my mistake but the speed limiter was not working when I came into the pits and I got a drive through. Once again I fell back to the bottom of the pack but with fresh tyres and a great car I was a lot quicker than most of the field and I eventually finished P9, very close to the famous 8th position and its pole position in race 2...
On Sunday we got it wrong when it came to fine tuning the car because we were expecting different tyre wear. On the positive side, the performance is there and there's no doubt we can be very competitive but we have to avoid any further mistakes because GP2 is a very challenging series, everything happens very fast, I have to fight against very experiences drivers and you can't afford even the smallest mistake. We'll do better next time!
I am satisfied with our level of performance but disappointed that we missed out on some good results because of several mistakes that prevented us from getting the best out of our potential. We can't win races when we lose so many positions at the start of both races but we won't make these mistakes twice. Having said that, our management of the tyre wear was good and our race pace was excellent in the end. The spirit of our drivers is positive and I think our potential is high. It's up to us not to make any mistake and if we do that we can be sure ART Grand Prix will bear fruit.