First, at last ! After a mad, mad week-end in Budapest for him and his ART Grand Prix Team, Alexandre PrÃ©mat took his first win in GP2, the series that is considered as the natural stepping stone to Formula One. Hungaroring was one of the ...
First, at last !
After a mad, mad week-end in Budapest for him and his ART Grand Prix Team, Alexandre Prémat took his first win in GP2, the series that is considered as the natural stepping stone to Formula One.
Hungaroring was one of the circuits Alex had never experienced before the free practice session. "I first covered 2 laps to understand this beautiful track. Then I stopped and went out again for a 12-lap run linked with my engineer who was telling me about the best sector times. I think we found the right approach because I was 2nd quickest behind Giorgio Pantano." Let us remind that the Italian took part in last year's Formula One Hungarian Grand Prix at the wheel of Jordan car.
In the qualifying session, Alex is only 6th, quite far from fulfilling his actual potential. He lost time and places committing two mistakes, missing the apex then oversteering in a spectacular way. But this was nothing compared with the disqualification of both ART Grand Prix cars, due to a different interpretation of the steering rack positioning rules by the team.
Therefore, Alex and his team-mate Nico Rosberg were sentenced to start from 23rd and 24th places on the grid, on a circuit where overtaking is hugely difficult. "I got in the car, thinking that finishing in the top 8 was possible." And indeed, it was! Alex was already up to 12th at the end of lap 1, overtaking 8 drivers at the start, then 4 in one go on the outside of the second corner, including Adam Carroll and Nelson Piquet Jr. Alex had a very efficient pitstop very early in the race (lap 3). Thanks to his pace and the team's strategy, he could climb up to 6th after the tyre changes. Alex got past Bruni when the former Minardi F1 driver missed a gear, and then outbraked Negrao to reach 4th place.
The leading trio had pulled away, but the safety-car came out and the gap disappeared. This could have been an opportunity for Alex, but his tyres didn't allow him to keep on fighting for a podium finish and he decided to secure a stunning 4th position. Victory was soon to follow anyway, after another flying start on Sunday morning: "the reversed grid rule put me 5th on the grid. I quickly moved up to 3rd, behind Viso who was clearly slower than me so Olivier Pla pulled away." Short afterwards, Viso gave up the fight due to a technical problem, and another safety car procedure allowed Alex to close in. A Frenchman was pressuring another, but suddenly, the engine of Pla broke down, causing a few more laps behind the safety-car for the surviving field. It was Alex's turn to be under pressure with a strong pack on his tail, but he made no mistake to emerge triumphant, heading a fantastic one-two for ART Grand Prix. Not too bad, after starting from the very last place on Saturday! "We really get the best of the tyres, in qualifying as well as in races" said Alex. "I am really happy about my race, and I will now do my best to win a long Saturday race."
Alex is now 4th in the championship, not that far from Scott Speed. He will be testing an A1GP car, before the next GP2 races in Turkey, on August 20th and 21st. (R.D. future racing commm)