GP2: Round 15 – Valencia, Spain – Sat Aug 23

Giorgio Pantano leapt away from the start line and led the field into turn 1 – and disappeared off into the distance, running so strongly that his win in the first GP2 Europe race at Valencia never seemed in doubt.

That is, until the last few hundred metres, when his car simply started to slow to a full stop. Even more bizarrely, his championship rival Bruno Senna – who had done well to climb from 8th on the grid to run 5th, and set to take an important 4th place with Pantano’s sudden retirement – also abruptly started to slow as he passed the stricken Racing Engineering car.

For a split second it looked as though he had been caught out and assumed that the race was finished. But the truth was even more bizarre – his car was also dead. He carlwed over the finish line but was pipped to 9th place by Sebastien Buemi, who inherits not just the 1pt for the position, but pole position in the inverted grid for the sprint race tomorrow morning.

It meant that a chance for Pantano to build a near-unassailable lead had evaporated – as had Senna’s chance to take the lead of the championship. Instead, Pantano continues to lead by 9pts, with the sprint race and two more weekends to go in the series. The reason for the retirements appeared to be that both cars were out of fuel – the teams unfamiliar with exact fuel consumption over this brand new circuit, and perhaps also expecting more safety car periods that would have eked out the fuel a lot further.

Instead there was only one safety car period, when Ho-Pin Tung got nudged into a barrier going into turn 3 and collected Kamui Kobayashi going into the wall on the opposite side of the track. The wreckage took some time to clear up and needed a JCB, so after a slight delay the yellow flags were thrown.

The pit stops were more spread out and strategic than usual – for once, everyone didn’t pile in as soon as the pit window opened, with the teams unsure on exactly which strategy was best suited to this new venue. Romain Grosjean turned out to be the major winner, timing his stop just right to leapfrog a few places, but in the closing laps of the race his form waned and he came under increasing pressure from Pastor Maldonado.

Like most street circuits, overtaking possibilities are few and far between even for GP2 cars (and doesn’t bode well for the GP tomorrow); Maldonado finally made his move on the last corner of lap 29 when Grosjean left enough space on the inside line for him to force his way through, but Grosjean fought back and took the position back over the next sequence of turns. Undeterred, Maldonardo tried the same move again the next lap – but this time forced Grosjean off the track onto the run-off area, preventing any fight back. It was a harsh move, but Grosjean was dopey to leave the same opening for Maldonardo for a second consecutive lap.

The only other major overtaking move during the race was a brave and risky lunge by Karun Chandhok on Diego Nunes. But Chandhok’s good work was undone when he, too, ran out of fuel on the final lap and ended up classified back in 15th spot. Carlos Iaconalli was yet another to run dry, but – like Senna – he managed to drag himself over the finish line before coming to a halt.

Other retirements were largely for technical failures (Mike Conway retired with hydraulic failure on lap 2, for example), but Andi Zuber managed to spin on lap 25 and whack the rear of his Piquet Sports car into the concrete wall.

1   V. Petrov       Campos          -   34
2   P. Maldonado    Piquet Sports   00'00"868
3   R. Grosjean     ART             00'04"447
4   L. Di Grassi    Campos          00'28"038
5   J. D'Ambrosio   DAMS            00'28"736
6   S. Buemi        Arden           00'28"855
7   A. Soucek       Super Nova      00'36"960
8   L. Filippi      Arden           00'45"390
9   B. Senna        iSport          00'48"177
10  D. Nunes        DPR             00'56"935
11  A. Valles       FMS             00'59"149
12  M. Herck        DPR             01'03"604
13  C. Iaconelli    BCN Comp.       01'12"716
14  G. Pantano      Racing Eng.     + 1 lap
15  K. Chandhok     iSport          + 1 lap
16  A. Parente      Super Nova      + 2 laps
17  D. Valsecchi    Durango         + 5 laps


    A. Zuber        Piquet Sports   Lap 25
    S. Yamamoto     ART             Lap 24
    M. Conway       Trident         Lap 2
    J. Villa        Racing Eng.     Lap 1
    R. Rodriguez    FMS             Lap 1
    H. Tung         Trident         Lap 1
    A. Valerio      Durango         Lap 1
    K. Kobayashi    DAMS            Lap 1
    M. Asmer        FMS             Lap 1

    Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

    You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

    Google+ photo

    You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


    Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: