FISRT WEEKEND AND FIRST PODIUM The ART Grand Prix team made a good start to the first GP2 season in Motorsport history with a podium finish in Sunday's race, that took place just before the San Marino F1 GP. Another satisfying point was ...
FISRT WEEKEND AND FIRST PODIUM
The ART Grand Prix team made a good start to the first GP2 season in Motorsport history with a podium finish in Sunday's race, that took place just before the San Marino F1 GP. Another satisfying point was the potential shown at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari gives great hope to Nicolas Todt, Frederic Vasseur and their crew in regard to the rest of the season, starting with the second championship round which will take place in Catalonia, north of Barcelona, from May 6th until May 8th.
Everything actually started off on the wrong foot in Imola with some technical problems that forced Alexandre and Nico to drastically reduce their mileage before the unique 30 minute qualifying session and make do with 17th and 11th grid positions respectively. However, the first round of the weekend, 180km on Saturday with a clear sky, was very encouraging for the entire team. Nico and Alexandre managed to make their way to the top of the field and secure stronger grid positions for the second race.
Indeed, by crossing the finish line in 7th and 8th position, the two white and red Dallara cars were upgraded to the first row of the grid for Sunday's second race, according to the championship regulations that determines Sunday's starting positions by putting the top 8 finishers in reverse order. Although indisputable leaders of the 80km sprint race, Nico and Alexandre were once again plagued by mechanical gremlins.
Left without any braking abilities halfway through the race, the German driver had no choice but to retire for safety reasons, while his French teammate held on to second place, keeping perfect control over his rivals despite letting Adam Caroll go past. (Super Nova.)
Nico is now 12th at the championship with 1 point, while Alexandre is 5th with 7 points.
Frederic Vasseur : Considering the circumstances I am particularly proud of my crew. We leave Imola with a podium finish; a good base, and with the knowledge that we are eligible for victory this season. Let's start with Barcelona in two weeks!
Alexandre Premat (Race 1: 7th / Race 2 : 2nd) : The weekend ended well! Had I been told on Friday night that I was to end up on the podium, I would have signed straight away! We had to change a lot of elements on our car, especially in the braking systems, and setting the car up was not an easy task. Despite interrupted qualifying, I fought my way back up the field in the first race. It was the first time I raced with 90kg of fuel on board and the first 10 laps were a bit difficult, but my engineer kept me updated lap-by-lap, sector-by-sector, and we improved together.
I was fast at the end of the race, more or less as quick as the race winner, Kovalainen. Finishing 7th was good news for the second round. With Nico, we were able to pull away at the beginning of the sprint round, but I was quickly faced with a dashboard lacking any kind of information except for water temperature! I had to change gears without any indications while at the same time trying to preserve the car and its water problem. I held Adam Carroll back as much as I could, but he took the lead at turn 8 where I went a bit wide, and went for the kill at the chicane before the stretch. Instead of resisting I went straight in order to avoid contact. I am very happy with this second place and first podium, which will lift the team's spirit, who I also congratulated. They worked until 4am on Sunday to get my car in shape and it turned out very well.
Nico Rosberg (Race 1: 8th / Race 2: retirement): The weekend started very badly as I had not been able to do a single lap during the only Friday Free Practice session. I had braking problems and engine cuts in qualifying, so starting from 11th position on the grid wasn't actually that bad, even if it did not make me very happy at the time. Race 1 went quite well and I was coming back up the field until I stalled in the pits during a stop, which made me lose a few positions. With my 8th place, I at least had pole position for the second race. Everything was going well, I was building my advantage but when it reached three seconds things started going wrong. I had no brakes left and therefore was faced with no other choice than to retire. Nevertheless, what comes out of this weekend is that we have enormous potential. We all have to improve but the season seems to be starting well and I expect us to be competitive in Barcelona.