The GP2 Series returns to action this weekend on the newly re-profiled Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona, Spain. The last four weeks have dredged past, as the teams and drivers have slowly wound down from the fascinating first weekend of the...
The GP2 Series returns to action this weekend on the newly re-profiled Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona, Spain. The last four weeks have dredged past, as the teams and drivers have slowly wound down from the fascinating first weekend of the 2007 season in Bahrain in early April. With two new winners and a host of rookies making an instant impression, a month has been an awfully long time to wait for racing to recommence.
Changes: Although it seems an age since last we were racing in Bahrain, it ironically feels as though we were in Barcelona just yesterday. Following some pretty major changes to the final sector of the Spanish circuit over the winter, the GP2 Series rocked up at the circuit in early March for the penultimate test of the pre-season.
While the general consensus among the drivers was that the new final sector stirred the emotions about as much as a damp slice of toast, it nevertheless caught many of them out and has, like or loathe its configuration, created a totally new challenge and potential overtaking point.
One of the most interesting factors to come out of the test was the increased proximity to Formula One of the 2007-spec GP2 Series car. Kazuki Nakajima formed the most immediate reference point, as he had been testing at the same track one week previously for the WilliamsF1 team. His best GP2 Series laptime was just 5.5 seconds behind his F1 best in similar conditions. The Japanese driver was never out of the top placings in testing here, although repeating that feat this weekend will be tough given that he has a ten-place grid penalty in his pocket for his collision with Ho-Pin Tung in Sunday's race in Bahrain.
His prospects for a good weekend however are far better than Michael Ammermuller's. The German had an operation on a broken scaphoid bone in his wrist in the month break, and is not yet fit enough to return to action. His #1 seat at ART Grand Prix will be taken by fellow Red-Bull driver Mikhail Aleshin who won the first WSR race of 2007 in Monza.
In testing, iSport International were by far the quickest and most consistent team at Barcleona and as they arrive in Spain they will be hoping for a repeat of their pre-season form. The British squad currently sits atop the teams' championship ahead of Super Nova International and Dams. In the drivers' championship, it is Super Nova's Luca Filippi who heads the standings after the first round. The Italian won his first GP2 Series race in Bahrain, and now leads Timo Glock and Nicolas Lapierre in the drivers' championship.
On Bridgestone's hard compound Potenza tyres, the action is sure to be fast and frantic from start to finish. With the teams and drivers already safe in their knowledge of the new track layout, the level of competition promises to be intense from the first lap of practice.
-credit: gp2 series