GP2: Rounds 5/6 – Istanbul, Turkey – 6/7 June

Feature race

Vitaly Petrov emerged as the dominant driver in today’s GP2 feature race in scorching conditions in Turkey, and claimed the race win – after his main rivals all did their best to take themselves out of contention.

Petrov’s Barwa Addax team mate and GP2 championship leader Romain Grosjean spun himself out of contention from 3rd place on the opening lap when he tried to pass Luca Filippi for second on turn 8 of the opening lap. That left Grosjean running down in 9th place for much of the race and uncharacteristically off the pace and uncompetitive, until he finally ground to a halt late in the race with two laps remaining.

Flipippi and pole-sitter Nico Hulkenberg obligingly got so wrapped up in their own fight for the lead that they both slid wide to narrowly avoid a collision, and left the way open for Petrov to sneak past them both at the final corner of turn 3. Once in front, Petrov diligently worked his way up to a big lead of over 10s before the safety car came out with 12 laps remaining (to remove the stranded car of Alvaro Parente, who had spun out of second place at Turn 8 and then come to a stop right across the track.)

Petrov hadn’t come in for his mandatory tyre change at this point and was lucky to get a free pass to be able to do so before the field started to line up behind the safety car: essentially, he got a free pass and was able to take the restart in the lead once more. Nor did the closing up of the field and the elimination of his lead cause much of a problem for Petrov: after the restart, he got his head down again and ended up taking the chequered flag some 6.5s ahead of second placed Filippi.

Davide Valsecchi finished in third, having also benefited from a pit stop under the safety car to climb from tenth to the podium position. he harried Filippi all the way to the end, finishing just 0.6s off the back of the Super Nova driver.

It proved an eventful race, with almost half of the field failed to finish with a mixture of incidents and mechanical problems: Karun Chandhok fell to the back of the pack when he failed to get away from the start line, and Lucas di Grassi had to pit to have a new front wing fitted following early shenanigans. And after yesterday’s grid penalties for yellow flag infrinegments, it looked like another busy day for the GP2 race stewards with five cars under investigation for various rule violations.

Javier Villa finished eighth and will therefore start from pole for the sprint race tomorrow morning according to reverse grid rules. Perhaps that’s why the Spaniard managed to lose four places in as many corners three laps before the finish, although that’s a very strange strategy – to surrender an assured 4th place in the feature race just for a promise of a pole position in the next. Andi Zuber, who had also been very strong in the early part of the race and climbed as high as third, narrowly avoided a collision with Filippi as the two exited from their pit stops and then Zuber dropped like a stone in the closing laps to fall out of the points completely.

Petrov’s win, along with a point for the fastest lap since Chandhok’s faster time was irrelevant as he finished outside the points positions, is enough to put the Russian in second place in the GP2 championship with 29pts, just two behind Grosjean. Jerome d’Ambrosio clings on to third on 18 points despite retiring early this afternoon, with Pastor Maldonado, Hulkenberg and Filippi forming the rest of the top six.

Race result:

 Pos  Driver            Team                           Time
 1.  Vitaly Petrov     Barwa Addax Team               57:57.260
 2.  Luca Filippi      Super Nova Racing              +   6.563
 3.  Davide Valsecchi  Durango                        +   7.155
 4.  Alberto Valerio   Piquet GP                      +  19.649
 5.  Nico Hulkenberg   ART Grand Prix                 +  19.948
 6.  Pastor Maldonado  ART Grand Prix                 +  23.967
 7.  G.van der Garde   iSport International           +  25.216
 8.  Javier Villa      Super Nova Racing              +  27.011
 9.  Lucas Di Grassi   Fat Burner Racing Engineering  +  28.508
10.  Andreas Zuber     FMS International              +  28.835
11.  Davide Rigon      Trident Racing                 +  29.312
12.  Diego Nunes       iSport International           +  29.712
13.  Daniel Clos       Fat Burner Racing Engineering  +  31.849
14.  Karun Chandhok    Ocean Racing Technology        +  34.559
15.  Ricardo Teixeira  Trident Racing                 +  39.001
Not Classified:
     Driver            Team                          Laps
     Roldan Rodriguez  Piquet GP                      26
     Romain Grosjean   Barwa Addax Team               25
     Edoardo Mortara   Telmex Arden International     20
     N.Panciatici      Durango                        18
     Alvaro Parente    Ocean Racing Technology        15
     Giacomo Ricci     DPR                            14
     Luiz Razia        FMS International              13
     J.D'Ambrosio      DAMS                           7
     Michael Herck     DPR                            4
     Sergio Perez      Telmex Arden International     1
     Kamui Kobayashi   DAMS                           1

Sprint race

Lucas di Grassi finally got his season on track with victory in the Turkey sprint race, thanks to some feature race penalties and a perfect sprint race drive of his own.

Di Grassi had been one of the favourites to compete for the 2009 GP2 title but has instead found it tough going, eclipsed by the likes of new rising star Romain Grosjean. But after overcoming a bit of tyre spin off the line, di Grassi overcame an early challenge from Javier Villa to cruise to a win with a 3.8s advantage by the chequered flag.

Villa should have started from pole, but was promoted to 7th in the feature race results after Giedo van der Garde was penalised 25s for overtaking the safety car when leaving the pitlane in the feature race. It was a race-saving decision for di grassi who similarly got boosted up from 9th to 8th in the feature race standings and got the pole start in the sprint race which made all the difference.

Barwa Addax’s Vitaly Petrov rose from 8th place on the grid to 4th by the end of the first lap, and then into third over the remainder of the race to finish ahead of Nico Hulkenberg. The Russian’s two strong performances in Istanbul mean that he goes away from here with the GP2 championship lead by 2pts over his team mate, Romain Grosjean

Grosjean initially looked as though he could pull off some damage limiation to avoid his third consecutive non-points scoring race. Starting in 26th place after retiring with mechanical failure in the feature race and getting a ten place penalty for overtaking under the safety car, Grosjean had leapt up to 13th by the end of the first lap. But then he found it impossible to get past Alvaro Parente, and subsequently came off the worse for wear after a physical confrontation with Diego Nunes that saw him muscled off the track at one point, after which his car never seemed to recover its handling and he had to settle for 12th, well out of the points for a second time this weekend.

Karun Chandhok repeated his starting grid stall of yesterday and ended up beginning the race from the pit lane, doing impressively well to climb to 14th. The pit lane start also meant he missed out on the barging in the midfield of the pack on the grid which saw Davide Valsecchi in particular knocked from all sides before coming together with Luca Filippi and sliding off into retirement before the first corner. Andreas Zuber was another driver involved who ran off at the first turn and shredded his rear left tyre, but he was able to limp back to the pits for a new tyre, rejoin and continue with the race albeit well down.

There were no safety cars, despite Michael Herck misjudging his braking, spinning and stalling his DPR midrace, which saw him marooned in the middle of the track for two laps while cars streamed pasted him merely under waved yellows.

Race result:

1   Lucas Di Grassi  Fat Burner Racing Engineering  37'17.705   
2   Javier Villa     Super Nova Racing              +   3.853
3   Vitaly Petrov    Barwa Addax Team               +   5.351
4   Nico Hülkenberg  ART Grand Prix                 +   8.991
5   Pastor Maldonado ART Grand Prix                 +  10.426
6   Alberto Valério  Piquet GP                      +  11.197
7   Daniel Clos Fat  Burner Racing Engineering      +  16.281
8   Davide Rigon     Trident Racing                 +  20.066
9   Edoardo Mortara  Telmex Arden International     +  24.368
10  Álvaro Parente   Ocean Racing Technology        +  24.696
11  Diego Nunes      iSport International           +  28.671
12  Romain Grosjean  Barwa Addax Team               +  32.766
13  G.van der Garde  iSport International           +  34.631
14  Karun Chandhok   Ocean Racing Technology        +  35.446
15  J.D'Ambrosio     DAMS                           +  40.023
16  Sergio Pérez     Telmex Arden International     +  41.171
17  Roldán Rodríguez Piquet GP                      +  42.313
18  Ricardo Teixeira Trident Racing                 +  52.238
19  Andreas Zuber    FMS International              +1'02.332
20  Luiz Razia       FMS International              +1'37.768

Not classified:

    17  Kamui Kobayashi DAMS                19  Not classified
    14  Luca Filippi    Super Nova Racing   18  Retirement
    27  Giacomo Ricci   DPR                 14  Retirement
    23  N.Panciatici    Durango             12  Retirement
    26  Michael Herck   DPR                 3   Retirement
    22  Davide Valsecchi    Durango         0   Retirement

GP2 championship standings

Grosjean’s dire weekend in Istanbul, coupled with Petrov’s strong performance and a first win of the season for Lucas di Grassi means that the championship is closing up nicely.

Petrov leads by just 2pts from Gorsjean, while di Grassi rises to 6th place 2pts behind d’Ambrosio (another driver to have has a less-than-delightful Turkish outing) and 1pt off ART duo Hulkenberg and Pastor Maldonardo.

Pos Driver              Pts 
1   Vitaly Petrov       33                                                  
2   Romain Grosjean     31                                                  
3   J.D'Ambrosio        18                                                  
4   Pastor Maldonado    17                                                  
5   Nico Hulkenberg     17                                                  
6   Lucas Di Grassi     16                                                  
7   Luca Filippi        13                                                  
8   Edoardo Mortara     10                                                  
9   Andreas Zuber       8                                               
10  Javier Villa        7                                               
11  Davide Valsecchi    6                                               
12  Alberto Valerio     6                                               
13  G.van der Garde     5                                               
14  Kamui Kobayashi     3                                               
15  Karun Chandhok      2   

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