Bridgestone Motorsport's GP2 Series Report Alvaro Parente (Super Nova Racing) and Kamui Kobayashi (DAMS) both took race wins in the opening round of the Bridgestone-supported GP2 Series at the Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona. This was the ...
Bridgestone Motorsport's GP2 Series Report
Alvaro Parente (Super Nova Racing) and Kamui Kobayashi (DAMS) both took race wins in the opening round of the Bridgestone-supported GP2 Series at the Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona. This was the first race of the fourth season of the series and teams and drivers were competing for the first time in the new GP / 08 car, the on-track action proving that the championship is more open than ever as teams adjust to this second generation car.
Portuguese driver Alvaro Parente dominated and won Saturday's feature race which was his debut race in GP2. Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi, after starting on pole for Sunday's sprint race, lost the lead to GP2 Asia Series champion Romain Grosjean (ART) on the first turn of lap three. Kobayashi then claimed the race win after Grosjean who led for most of the race was given a penalty.
For official partner, Bridgestone, it was an important race weekend being the first time that the GP2 Series tyre had been supplied by the Bridgestone Technical Centre in Rome. Production of the Bridgestone GP2 tyre used to be based in Japan but was moved to Rome to improve logistics for the European-based championship.
Franco Annunziato, Managing Director, Bridgestone Technical Centre Europe, was in Barcelona to monitor tyre performance and said, "This weekend is very important for the Technical Centre in Europe as it is the first time ever we have been involved in motorsport activities. It has been quite a difficult start for us because the Circuit de Catalunya is one of the most demanding and challenging tracks, but performance has been consistent and wear has been uniform. Our target when we started this project was to duplicate exactly the level of performance of the Bridgestone Japan produced tyre and from this weekend's results it looks like we are on the right path. We know this is just the first round and there are many more to come, but we are confident that our team has the passion and motivation to be successful."
In Saturday's 39 lap race, Parente led from the first lap after Pastor Maldonado (Piquet Sports) stalled on the grid after lining up in pole position for the second time in his GP2 career. Accidents at the beginning between Christian Bakkerud (Super Nova Racing) and Ben Hanley (BARWA International Campos), and Roldan Rodriguez (FMS International) and Ho-Pin Tung (Trident Racing), meant the safety car came out at the end of the second lap and all drivers proceeded to make their one compulsory pit stop, most making their only tyre change of the race. Bruno Senna (iSport International) finished second, ahead of Andreas Zuber (Piquet Sports) in third. Grosjean finished an impressive fifth having started 11th on the grid.
Sunday's 26 lap sprint race provided Kobayashi with his first win in the European GP2 Series. Romain Grosjean lost his race win after making a mistake in the last chicane on lap 22 as the safety car returned to the pits having been deployed due to Giacomo Ricci's (DPR) spin. This allowed Kobayashi to close the gap at the restart with Grosjean making more than one move, aggressively going into the first corner of lap 23 trying to defend his position and being given a drive through penalty which left him finishing in 13th place. Buemi finished in second place, Giorgio Pantano (Racing Engineering) in third.
With the season now underway, Parente and Senna jointly lead the drivers' championship with 11 points each, ahead of Pantano on 9 points, with Kobayashi following on 8 points. In the teams' championship Super Nova Racing and iSport International share first place with 11 points followed by Racing Engineering on 10 and DAMS and Piquet Sports both on 8 points. The next round will be held at the challenging anti- clockwise circuit in Istanbul on 10-11 May, with the hard compound Bridgestone tyres being used for the second and final time in the main GP2 Series.
Quote from Hirohide Hamashima - Director of Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development
"For the opening round of the European GP2 Series we are very happy to use the Bridgestone tyre made in Rome and we are confident in the tyre's performance. In Saturday's feature race, due to accidents at the start, the safety car was deployed and all drivers made early pit stops meaning the same tyres were used for a long distance, however, lap times were good for the duration of the race and degradation was reasonable. In Sunday's race, we were of course pleased to see a Japanese driver win here. The GP2 Series are happy with our choice of specification for Barcelona, the new GP2 / 08 car being complimented by the Bridgestone tyre and as a result we have seen very competitive racing."