Istanbul: Round 10 preview

GP2 series championship crunchtime The GP2 series embarks on the tenth and penultimate round of the 2006 season this weekend in Istanbul, Turkey. With both the drivers' and teams' championships there for the taking over the following days, ...

GP2 series championship crunchtime

The GP2 series embarks on the tenth and penultimate round of the 2006 season this weekend in Istanbul, Turkey. With both the drivers' and teams' championships there for the taking over the following days, competition looks set to be hotter than ever as Lewis Hamilton and Nelson Piquet Jr fight for individual honours, and ART Grand Prix look set to wrap up a second consecutive teams' championship.

The Istanbul Park circuit here in Istanbul, Turkey, made its debut along with the GP2 series in 2005. Indeed, the GP2 series was the first championship to turn a lap on the new circuit last year, and over the course of the weekend we were treated to two fantastic races on this thrilling and challenging track. This year, on Bridgestone's hard compound slick Potenza tyres, the laptimes look set to tumble and the speeds once again rise, in tune with the thrilling championship battles.

Tomorrow Never Knows: With just two weekends of the 2006 season remaining, things couldn't be better poised for a final championship showdown between the two standout drivers of the campaign, Lewis and Nelson. Just 11 points separate the dueling drivers, and with a maximum of 40 on offer from this weekend's racing in Turkey and the final race of the season in Monza, Italy, in two weeks' time, it is still either man's crown.

A perfect weekend in the GP2 series is a big ask, but last time out in Hungary Nelson became the first driver in history to do just that, taking pole position, race win and fastest lap on Saturday, and the race win and fastest lap on Sunday. As Nelson showed to devastating effect, while collecting all 40 points remaining is a tall order, it is by no means an impossibility. That said, it is still Lewis who holds the advantage, and just nine points more than his Brazilian rival this weekend in Turkey will net the young Briton the GP2 series title at his very first attempt.

Behind the leading two, the battle for third place in the standings is still raging. Alex Prémat, Lewis' team-mate, leads that fight on 56 points with Timo Glock fourth on 50 points and his iSport International team-mate Ernesto Viso fifth on 42. With the maximum 40 points from the next two races, it isn't out of the realms of possibility that any of those drivers, and indeed Gimmi Bruni, José María López, Giorgio Pantano and ninth placed Adam Carroll, could still take third place. It really is still that close.

Meanwhile in the teams' championship ART Grand Prix leads the way on 143 points, with iSport International 50 behind them on 93. With 66 points remaining to be won by a single team for a pair of perfect weekends, again it isn't impossible for iSport to take the crown, but such has been the consistency of ART Grand Prix over the season that they are looking odds on for a repeat of their 2005 championship title. They need to leave Istanbul with a 33 point lead over the second placed team in order to be able to claim the crown. But it's not just a two-way fight. Piquet Sports lies third in the battle on 80 points and are well in the hunt for second position in the championship. In fact, if results went their way, they could even steal the title.

-credit: gp2 series

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Series FIA F2
Drivers Giorgio Pantano , Lewis Hamilton , Nelson Piquet , Adam Carroll , Timo Glock , Jose Maria Lopez , Ernesto Viso
Teams ART Grand Prix