GP2 Asia: Rounds 1/2 – Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi – 31 October/1 November

Feature race

Davide Valsecchi opened the GP2 Asia season with a hard-earned victory over fellow GP2 veteran Luca Filippi at the feature race in Abu Dhabi.

Valsecchi recovered from a sluggish start to retake the lead from ART’s impressive rookie Sam Bird down the incredibly long backstraight on lap 1, but Filippi was able to take the lead by running longer before his mandatory pit stop.

Racing was interrupted shortly afterward when Luiz Razia lost his front wing in a collision with Christian Vietoris which left debris on the track. Valsecchi then had to put Filippi under pressure from the restart, finally taking the lead again in the closing stages after a very close side by side dice through the Turn 11, 12, 13 and 14 complex. Valsecchi retained the lead even after a second safety car period prompted by a spin by Trident’s Plamen Kralev.

Sam Bird had been on course for an impressive 4th place when he suffered brake problems, took to an escape road at the chicane, and then retired a few corners later on the penultimate lap as the problem proved insurmountable. That put his British compatriot Oliver Turvey into 8th place and hence into pole position for the sprint race tomorrow under reverse grid rules.

Result

Pos  Driver              Team        Time/Gap
 1.  Davide Valsecchi    iSport      1h07m49.810s
 2.  Luca Filippi        Meritus     + 4.881s
 3.  James Jakes         Super Nova  + 6.174s
 4.  Alexander Rossi     Ocean       + 7.182s
 5.  Josef Kral          Super Nova  + 8.220s
 6.  Christian Vietoris  DAMS        + 13.300s
 7.  Johnny Cecotto      Trident     + 15.460s
 8.  Oliver Turvey       iSport      + 16.223s
 9.  Edoardo Piscopo     DAMS        + 16.715s
10.  Roldan Rodriguez    Coloni      + 16.879s
11.  Marcus Ericsson     ART         + 21.686s
12.  Will Bratt          Coloni      + 22.539s
13.  Michael Herck       DPR         + 22.881s
14.  Rodolfo Gonzalez    Arden       + 23.403s
15.  Daniel Zampieri     Piquet      + 23.786s
16.  Max Chilton         Addax       + 25.131s
17.  Fabio Leimer        Ocean       + 30.019s
18.  Sam Bird            ART         + 2 laps

Retirements:

     Charles Pic         Arden       28 laps
     Vlado Arabadjiev    Piquet      25 laps
     Plamen Kralev       Trident     24 laps
     Luiz Razia          Addax       12 laps
     Giacomo Ricci       DPR         8 laps
     Diego Nunes         Meritus     0 laps

Sprint race

Christian Vietoris won the spring race, but it was once again Davide Valsecchi who caught the eye and impressed the most as he battled his way impressively up the order from eighth on the grid to take second and complete a very satisfactory open weekend in GP2 Asia.

Polesitter Oliver Turvey had a mediocre start but crucially failed to defend his line going into the first turn, allowing first Vietoris and then Josef Kral and Alexander Rossi to stream past him on the inside line. Turvey would also get taken with similar ease by Valsecchi with 8 laps remaining, but at least he did better than his fellow front row driver Johnny Cecotto who got a miserable start and was then squeezed back to 8th behind Luca Fillipi and Valsecchi.

Valsecchi took a fair while to come to life, but as the race reached is concluding third he suddenly sprang to life, elbowed Filippi aside and then passed Turvey – again, the Brit made it far too easy for him and failed to defend against his iSport team mate, unlike Rossi who blocked Valsecchi to within an inch of the rules before finally being forced to concede as Valsecchi took the third place. With one lap remaining, Valsecchi then hunted down Kral for the second place spot and managed a great move down the inside into a chicane that left Kral no option but to let him past for the runner-up position.

Behind them, Turvey finally managed to get on competitive form with a nice move on Rossi to take fourth. Filippi, meanwhile, having lost the shoot-out with Valsecchi then managed to spin while side-by-side defending his position from Cecotto. He recovered but was out of the points in eighth.

Valsecchi had been helped by a safety car on lap 14 caused by Fabio Leimer’s ca failing to brake going into a sharp left hander, sending him skidding off into the new safer barriers introduced to F1 here at Abu Dhabi, collecting Will Bratt along the way. That closed up the field and had left Valsecchi right on the back of Rossi at the critical moment with enough laps left to take advantage of the situation.

Even so, it was somewhat startling to see Valsecchi in such top form. He’s been something of a GP2 journeyman till now, having been on the series since its inception without ever really catching the eye or having much success. But the excellent results here in what it only a four-weekend series sets him up nicely for walking away with the off-season title.

Another driver showing signs of top form was ART’s Sam Bird, but for all his strong showing he walks away with zero points from this weekend. Starting from 18th after his brake failure in the feature race, he was spun by light contact in the first lap and then worked his way up through the order with moves including a side-by-side battle with Rodolfo Gonzalez that saw them both bounce over and through a chicane. But Bird then spun later in the race and got dumped down to the back of the running order once again, all that hard work for nought.

Result

Pos  Driver              Team        Time/Gap
 1.  Christian Vietoris  DAMS        43m18.814s
 2.  Davide Valsecchi    iSport      + 2.447s
 3.  Josef Kral          Super Nova  + 3.195s
 4.  Oliver Turvey       iSport      + 6.616s
 5.  Alexander Rossi     Ocean       + 7.420s
 6.  Johnny Cecotto      Trident     + 7.711s
 7.  Edoardo Piscopo     DAMS        + 8.237s
 8.  Luca Filippi        Meritus     + 10.136s
 9.  Michael Herck       DPR         + 10.730s
10.  James Jakes         Super Nova  + 11.643s
11.  Luiz Razia          Addax       + 11.881s
12.  Marcus Ericsson     ART         + 12.315s
13.  Diego Nunes         Meritus     + 12.893s
14.  Roldan Rodriguez    Coloni      + 13.303s
15.  Charles Pic         Arden       + 13.777s
16.  Rodolfo Gonzalez    Arden       + 14.431s
17.  Max Chilton         Addax       + 19.485s
18.  Sam Bird            ART         + 21.421s

Retirements:

     Vlado Arabadjiev    Piquet      17 laps
     Fabio Leimer        Ocean       14 laps
     Will Bratt          Coloni      14 laps
     Daniel Zampieri     Piquet      5 laps
     Giacomo Ricci       DPR         1 lap
     Plamen Kralev       Trident     0 laps

GP2 Asia championship after round 2

Drivers championship:

Pos Driver              Pts
1   Davide Valsecchi    19                  
2   Christian Vietoris   9                   
3   Luca Filippi         8                   
4   Josef Kral           8                   
5   Alexander Rossi      7                   
6   James Jakes          6                   
7   Oliver Turvey        4                   
8   Johnny Cecotto Jr.   3   

Teams championship:

Pos Team                    Pts
1   iSport International    23                      
2   Super Nova Racing       14                      
3   DAMS                     9                   
4   Malaysia Qi-Meritus.Com  8                   
5   Ocean Racing Technology  7                   
6   Trident Racing           3       
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