A difficult day in Turkey for Racing Engineering
25 cars lined up in the grid in sunny conditions for the first Feature Race of the 2011 GP2 Series with Racing Engineering’s two drivers, Dani Clos and Christian Vietoris, lining up 5th and 8th respectively. Vietoris moving up a place from 9th after qualification following a 10 place grid penalty being applied to Valsecchi.
As the lights went off both Clos and Vietoris made excellent starts as the young Spaniard took advantage of a slow start from Bird to move up to 2nd and the young German gained three places to take 5th. However a big accident at the back of the grid resulting in three cars retiring, fortunately without driver injury, saw the deployment of the Safety Car as the Turkish marshalls cleared the debris from the racing line.
Racing resumed on lap 4 with Clos still 2nd and Vietoris 5th but a lap later both men lost a place as Bird demoted Clos to 3rd and Vietoris lost a place to Filippi. The Racing Engineering team went for an early pit stop strategy with Vietoris calling him in on lap 6 and the German resumed the race in 21st position. Clearly the new tyres were an improvement as Vietoris set the fastest lap of the race so far, a 1:37.775 on lap 8.
Lap 10 saw Clos running wide and losing a place to Filippi and dropping to 4th and on the following lap the Racing Engineering team called the Spaniard into the pits for his mandatory stop as many of the field followed suite. Clos resumed in 10th place with teammate Vietoris one place behind in 11th.
By lap 14 Clos was up to 7th with Vietoris 9th as he was overtaken by Van der Garde and a lap later both men gained two positions as the pit stops continued. Clos moved up to 3rd on lap 17 as Mirocha made a second pit stop but a flying Van der Garde pushed him back to 4th on the following lap.
Vietoris began to slow dramatically as he found his new set of tyres not reacting as he expected and on lap 20 he dived into the pits losing 34 seconds and resuming in 19th spot. It was now clear that Clos was also suffering from tyre problems as he dropped to 5th on lap 23 when Bianchi passed him on the entrance to the first corner and on lap 27 he slid off into the gravel trap losing a further two places before he was able to resume.
As the race entered its closing stages Vietoris was flying even though he was back in 14th place, he was one of only three drivers lapping in the 1:39 bracket, the other two being race leader Grosjean and second place man Bird. Clos was still struggling for grip and with two laps to go he was demoted to 8th by Pic. As the chequered flag fell Clos held onto 8th from a closing Ericsson and Vietoris had climbed back to 11th. A difficult race for Racing Engineering but both drivers fought hard despite their problems and for Dani Clos he has the reward of starting tomorrow’s race from pole position whilst, although having to start from the 6th row, the undoubted pace shown by Vietoris today, with the third fastest race lap, means a finish in the points is a strong possibility.
“This was a difficult race. We were lucky to have finished in a position, which allows us to start tomorrow's race from the front row. But we have a lot of data to study now to understand what exactly has happened during the race. We will work hard to improve and prepare for tomorrow's sprint race in the best way possible.”
“This was a really patchy race with many ups and downs. We had a good start and I was there. We decided on an early pit stop and I think I was on the way to the podium. But my second set of tyres everything changed and in a way I have never experienced it before. We have no explanation for the extreme problems we faced with this set of tyres. They were dead instantly and we were forced into a second pit stop. With the new set mounted I re-joined the race at the end of the field, but the handling of the car was normal again. The tyre degradation was normal and as expected now, a bit in each lap. What happened on my second set was not normal as they were gone almost instantaneously. My intention was to fight for a better starting position in tomorrow's race, but it was also not normal that I was able to make up over 10 seconds per lap on others at this stage of the race. A really strange race, where we were at the very front as well as at the very back.”
Alfonso de Orléans-Borbón, president of Racing Engineering:
“Quite disappointed today, especially since both drivers had good starting positions. But tyre wear was quite extreme. Grosjean's experience testing the Pirelli tyres and DAMS' connection with Renault F1 obviously paid off. The only positive points were Dani's great start and Chris' late charge from last to 11th at the chequered flag. The team did a great job, no complaints, so let's prepare for tomorrow.”
-source: racing engineering