ART Grand Prix left Turkey with a victory in their pocket - by Alexandre Premat in the first round and a second podium delivered by Nico Rosberg in Sunday?s second race. The German driver could have claimed victory on Saturday, if it wasn?t for a...
ART Grand Prix left Turkey with a victory in their pocket - by Alexandre Premat in the first round and a second podium delivered by Nico Rosberg in Sunday?s second race. The German driver could have claimed victory on Saturday, if it wasn?t for a mechanical problem caused after contact with Scott Speed. Alex was close to recording a unique and outstanding performance: winning both rounds of a GP2 meeting, proving once again that he is one of the very best drivers in the series, which is the best school for F1.
With another beautiful pole position to his credit, Nico drew his advantage at the beginning, despite an attack from the American in their battle for the lead at the first turn. Then at the end of the first lap, Neel Jani hit the pit wall causing the safety car to emerge and like Speed, Nico opted to stay on track and hold position, getting back into the action as soon as the safety car peeled off. Alexandre Premat entered the pits however where he changed tyres, a strategy pre-organized by the team.
On the eighth lap, the Dallara Renault was the victim of a bent exhaust, caused from the first lap contact with Speed and Rosberg was forced to pit for repairs.
Alexandre once again took over the battle from his teammate, taking advantage of his much earlier pit stop. The Frenchman went on to resist attacks from Pantano in the last laps to record his second consecutive victory following the one at the Hungaroring three weeks earlier while Nico finished two laps down and out of the points.
The second Turkish race saw a tactical tournament that ART GP won with honours. The clouds above Istanbul Park burst open just a few minutes before the start of the race and ART GP had made adjustments for the wet weather where others anticipated a dry end to the race. Well took some to him! Alexandre and Nico both made impeccable starts and from 17th on the grid, Nico was soon on a charge through the field. Meanwhile, as he tried to take the lead of the race and to make a great move in the championship, Premat made an error in turn 8 and lost any chance to finish well.
It was therefore Rosberg?s turn to pick up where his teammate left off and he climbed unrelentingly up the leaderboard and onto the podium with a third placed finish. This means that he does not have to concede any points to the championship leader in spite of a weekend tinged with bad luck.
The performances of its two drivers and the work of the entire team now allows ART GP to consolidate its lead in the Team Championship with 131 points, 33 ahead of their nearest rival. Nico still holds onto 2nd place in the drivers championship, 7 behind Heikki Kovalainen, while Alexandre Premat is firmly in fourth place six behind Scott Speed.
Good and not so good... we could have left Turkey with an immense satisfaction, but we had a few disappointments in each race, despite an excellent level of competitiveness. After having his exhaust bent after the contact with Speed, Nico had electronic problems with his gear box in the first race. In the second round, Alexandre carried out a great race, before making an error on this very demanding track. I think that we were better than Kovalainen this weekend, but we did not take any points from him, which is frustrating. However, we can?t be too unhappy with a victory and a third place.
The weekend went very well overall, even if I could have done even better, particularly in qualifying where I lost four tenths in the second sector, but the race brought me immense satisfaction! I had a very good start and was up with Carroll and Piquet, who I could pass to take 5th place before the arrival of the safety car. I then returned to the pits to change tyres, and was very happy to preserve my 5th place behind the four drivers who chose not to have their stop. I kept up with the lead group and therefore took the head of the race when Nico ran into problems and when the others had their stops. Pantano was right there in my rear view mirrors at the end of the race, but I managed to contain it without too much problem. The second race started well, with yet another good start enabling me to catch up with the leading trio at the first turn. I really wanted to win the race to prove that it is possible to be successful twice in the same weekend, and to take a lot of points off Speed in the drivers championship. Unfortunately I suffered some understeer while following Yoshimoto into turn 8 and I spun. I tried to carry on and catch back up but I ended up in 14th. My objective was then to record the best lap of the race, which I managed to do, until Olivier Pla beat me with just two laps to go.
Nico Rosberg :
We discussed an early Safety Car period in advance and we decided that I would not come in. We expected the tyres not to last the distance, at least not on a competitive level. Maybe at the end the decision was wrong, but it?s always easy to know better afterwards. Suddenly the engine jumped into neutral although it indicated that it was still in sixth gear. The race was over because by the time I got going again I was a lap down. Our next aim was to at least get 2 points for fastest lap. I only managed the second fastest as the gearbox problem persisted together with the exhaust being closed off. In the end it was not one of my luckiest races but I know we have the speed to win further races. Race 2 was a lot of fun especially when the track was drying out. We went more towards of a wet set-up so it was great at the start, and when we put on the dry tyres we just had a lot of understeer, but it was quite exciting. In the end I think it was the best decision. We had a problem in the pitstop when the wheel didn?t come off and all of that kind of stuff but it was ok.