GP2: Round 17/18 – Monza, Italy – 12/13 September

Feature race

Despite F1 qualifying taking place in hot conditions under gorgeous blue skies, the start of the GP2 feature race just an hour later was delayed by a downpour that left large sections of the Monza circuit underwater.

The GP2 race finally got underway 40 minutes late and ran under the safety car for the first five laps before it was judged to be safe to get underway. Even so, Piquet driver Alberto Valerio spun off at Parabolica on the opening lap behind the safety car, ending his race early.

It was little safer on lap 6 when the safety car came in. With tyres cold from the slow running, and the track still very wet, everyone was struggling to keep it together – and Sergio Perez lost it in the run down to the first turn, straying into some standing water that threw him off into the barier and ricochetting across the track before coming to a halt. Amazingly this didn’t trigger a massive pile-up despite the oncoming traffic badly unsighted by the spray, although DPR’s debutant Johnny Cecotto Jr spun across the grass further back and collect a polystrene hoarding.

Nico Hulkenberg was finding the wet conditions very much to his liking and was struggling; at the restart as the safety car came in he came close to straying off track at the Parabolica, and a few laps later hs did exactly that – running into the gravel and losing three plaes before getting back up to speed.

This was good news for pole sitter and race leader Vitaly Petrov, who had to score at least 3pts mroe than Hulkenberg to keep his GP2 title chances mathametically alive. But it wasn’t all going Petrov’s way, and he ran through the first chicane on the first lap under green and then came under increasing pressure from the clearly faster Giedo van der Garde as the race wore on and the track started to dry up. Time and again the pressure saw Petrov forced off track or to cut chicanes and there was a real chance of a drive-thru penalty, as many of the other drivers were getting penalised if they cut chicanes more then three times.

One of those to get a penalty was Alvaro Parente, whichfelt rather unfair as his chicane-cutting was mostly as a result of trying every trick in the book to get past Lucas di Grassi for third rather than the careless “can’t be bothered to make the turn” activites of the others. Parente – who had been the star of the early laps and made up huge ground in the wettest conditions – dropped back to 7th after the penalty and never recovered, and was subsequently handed an additional 25s penalty for speeding in the pit lane that meant also he lost his position on the front row for Sunday’s sprint race; Luiz Razia was the lucky recipient of the spring pole as a result..

Meanwhile the laps were running out, and most of the cars still had to make their mandatory pit stop and tyre change. They held out to the last minute in case the track dried sufficiently to allow a change to slicks, but in the end there was too much standing water and everyone piled in for fresh intermediates instead. Petrov was still trying to maintain the lead over van der Garde, when the iSport driver pulled off a tactical masterstroke and pitted a lap earlier than Petrov: the fresh rubber gave van der Garde a critical advantage on the next lap and when Petrov emerged from the pit lane after his own stop, he was starting at the back of the Dutch driver’s car.

Any chance Petrov might have had to mount a comeback were thwarted when Cecotto Jr strayed off track at the exit of the Lesmos, hit the barrier hard sent a tyre spinning down the track before coming to a stop in the middle of the circuit in a dangerous position that following cars had to swerve hard to avoid, forcing the race to be finished under safety car conditions.

Despite Petrov’s disappointment at losing the win, he did at least finish far enough ahead of Hulkenberg to keep the title alive. And as for van der Garde, he was revelling in delivering iSport’s first win since Monaco 2008.

Race result

Pos  Driver               Team                    Time/Gap
 1.  Giedo van der Garde  iSport              1h03m18.437s
 2.  Vitaly Petrov        Addax                +    2.320s
 3.  Lucas di Grassi      Racing Engineering   +   13.281s
 4.  Jerome D'Ambrosio    DAMS                 +   14.370s
 5.  Edoardo Mortara      Arden                +   24.668s
 6.  Nico Hulkenberg      ART                  +   24.967s
 7.  Javier Villa         Super Nova           +   34.057s
 8.  Luiz Razia           Coloni               +   40.584s
 9.  Davide Rigon         Trident              +   43.870s
10.  Diego Nunes          iSport               +   47.665s
11.  Alvaro Parente       Ocean                +   55.785s
12.  Andreas Zuber        Coloni               + 1m09.511s
13.  Roldan Rodriguez     Piquet               + 1m11.089s
14.  Davide Valsecchi     Addax                + 1m11.994s
15.  Daniel Clos          Racing Engineering   + 1m48.139s
16.  Ricardo Teixeira     Trident              +     1 lap
17.  Kamui Kobayashi      DAMS                 +     1 lap
18.  Johnny Cecotto Jr    DPR                  +     1 lap
19.  Karun Chandhok       Ocean                +    3 laps
20.  Michael Herck        DPR                  +    3 laps

Not classified:

     Luca Filippi         Super Nova          18 laps
     Sergio Perez         Arden               6 laps
     Pastor Maldonado     ART                 6 laps
     Alberto Valerio      Piquet              0 laps

Sprint race

With Luiz Razia confidently blasting away from pole position and staying in front to the chequered flag and become the 10th different winner in GP2 2009, the focus of the sprint race was all about the GP2 championship battle between Nico Hulkenberg and Vitaly Petrov. All Hulkenberg had to do was finish in front of Petrov, and the title was decided in his favour.

Javier Villa stalled on the formation lap and started from the pit lane, and Edoardo Mortara got bogged down at the start which opened up a glorious opportunity for Lucas di Grassi to weave through on the insdie line and muscle Hulkenberg aside going into the first corner for second place. But more importantly for the title, Hulkenberg held off Petrov’s own lunge around the outside meaning that the running order for the first laps was Razia, di Grassi, Hulkenberg and Petrov.

A safety car made an early outing after Diego Nunes’ attempt to overtake Dani Clos ended in a violent crash: Clos defended his position, forced Nunes out wide onto the grass – and Nunes spun, collecting Clos who rolled in the gravel trap and ended up upside down, necessitating the appearance of a crane to remove the wreckage. Both drivers walked away, though.

After the restart, Petrov was clearly quicker that Hulkenberg in the long sweeping corners but Hulkenberg was better and later on the brakes, leading to stalemate despite some fierce battling. It briefly looked as though Hulkenberg had made a mistake through the Parabolica on lap 14 when he went into a full-on power slide, but Petrov was having a major moment of his own and went off the track altogether, ploughing through the gravel. By the time he got back on the tarmac, he’d been passed for 4th by Jerome D’Ambrosio and the GP2 title was effectively decided there and then,

D’Ambrosio did offer Petrov a late opportunity to retake the spot when he misjudged his run into the first chicane and had to take to the escape road, and then had to judge whether or not retaining the position would get him handed a drive-thru penalty from the hyperactive marshalls.

Otherwise it was a relatively quiet race: Sergio Perez’s sprint race lasted no longer than his feature race after he crawled to a half during the early safety car; Mortara’s race ended when he ran across the incredibly high kerbing on the first chicane while battling with Giedo van der Garde, which ripped off all the barge boarding from the underside of the car; Andreas Zuber’s front wing also incurred the wrath of the kerbing to a lesser extent later on Michael Herck ended up spun sideways in the middle of a chicane after being caught in the outside of a three-wide battle into the turn; Johnny Cecotto Jr had another late-race retirement after a slow spin through a chicane left his rear wheels beached in the gravel; and Pastor Maldonado lost grip into the Parabolica and ran through the gravel trap at speed before meeting up with the tyre wall.

But the key headline without doubt was Nico Hulkenberg finishing ahead of Petrov and thereby securing the GP2 title, a week ahead of the final race of the GP2 Europe season in the Algrarve – making Hulkenberg the first driver ever to secure the GP2 crown with a round still to spare.

Race result

Pos  Driver               Team                  Time/Gap
 1.  Luiz Razia           Coloni              35m12.921s
 2.  Lucas di Grassi      Racing Engineering    +  2.576
 3.  Nico Hulkenberg      ART                   +  4.955
 4.  Jerome D'Ambrosio    DAMS                  +  7.374
 5.  Vitaly Petrov        Addax                 +   7.92
 6.  Giedo van der Garde  iSport                +  8.687
 7.  Roldan Rodriguez     Piquet                +  9.133
 8.  Davide Rigon         Trident               + 13.395
 9.  Davide Valsecchi     Addax                 + 24.809
10.  Javier Villa         Super Nova            + 25.492
11.  Alberto Valerio      Piquet                + 26.254
12.  Karun Chandhok       Ocean                 + 33.526
13.  Michael Herck        DPR                   +  35.32
14.  Ricardo Teixeira     Trident               + 59.622


     Pastor Maldonado     ART                 19 laps
     Johnny Cecotto Jr    DPR                 18 laps
     Kamui Kobayashi      DAMS                18 laps
     Luca Filippi         Super Nova          15 laps
     Andreas Zuber        Coloni              11 laps
     Alvaro Parente       Ocean               6 laps
     Edoardo Mortara      Arden               6 laps
     Sergio Perez         Arden               1 lap
     Diego Nunes          iSport              0 laps
     Dani Clos            Racing Engineering  0 laps

GP2 championship standings

The championship is decided, leaving the Algarve a formality – or an exhibition race.

Pos Driver          Points
1   Nico Hulkenberg     90
2   Vitaly Petrov       68
3   Lucas Di Grassi     57
4   Romain Grosjean     45
5   Pastor Maldonado    36
6   Giedo van der Garde 33
7   Jerome D'Ambrosio   29
8   Alvaro Parente      27
9   Luca Filippi        24
10  Sergio Perez        22
11  Javier Villa        22
12  Roldan Rodriguez    21
13  Andreas Zuber       20
14  Edoardo Mortara     19
15  Alberto Valerio     16
16  Kamui Kobayashi     10
17  Davide Valsecchi    10
18  Karun Chandhok      10
19  Luiz Razia           8
20  Diego Nunes          6
21  Davide Rigon         3
Pos Team             Points
1   ART Grand Prix      126
2   Barwa Addax Team    113
3   Fat Burner Racing    57
4   Super Nova Racing    46
5   Telmex Arden         41
6   iSport               39
7   DAMS                 39
8   Piquet GP            37
9   Ocean Racing         37
10  FMS International    20
11  Durango              10
12  Coloni                8
13  Trident Racing        3
14  DPR                   0

    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: