GP2 Asia: Rounds 7/8 – Sakhir, Bahrain – March 13/14

This was the last weekend of GP2 Asia for this season. The summer GP2 season starts on May 8/9 in Catalunya.

Qualifying

Luca Filippi claimed pole, his first one in GP2 since 2007, narrowly pipping Charles Pic who had been clearly head and shoulders above the rest of the field until the closing moments.

Result

Pos  Driver                Team        Time       Gap
 1.  Luca Filippi          Meritus     2m07.087s
 2.  Charles Pic           Arden       2m07.178s  + 0.091s
 3.  Oliver Turvey         iSport      2m07.237s  + 0.150s
 4.  Davide Valsecchi      iSport      2m07.243s  + 0.156s
 5.  Alvaro Parente        Coloni      2m07.413s  + 0.326s
 6.  Javier Villa          Arden       2m07.432s  + 0.345s
 7.  Jules Bianchi         ART         2m07.710s  + 0.623s
 8.  Luiz Razia            Rapax       2m07.772s  + 0.685s
 9.  Giacomo Ricci         DPR         2m07.892s  + 0.805s
10.  Alexander Rossi       Meritus     2m08.027s  + 0.940s
11.  Sam Bird              ART         2m08.339s  + 1.252s
12.  Fabio Leimer          Ocean       2m08.428s  + 1.341s
13.  Dani Clos             Trident     2m08.467s  + 1.380s
14.  Michael Herck         DPR         2m08.634s  + 1.547s
15.  Christian Vietoris    DAMS        2m08.678s  + 1.591s
16.  Max Chilton           Addax       2m08.692s  + 1.605s
17.  Yelmer Buurman        Ocean       2m08.778s  + 1.691s
18.  Edoardo Piscopo       DAMS        2m08.858s  + 1.771s
19.  Vladimir Arabadzhiev  Rapax       2m08.863s  + 1.776s
20.  Josef Kral            Super Nova  2m09.454s  + 2.367s
21.  Will Bratt            Coloni      2m09.611s  + 2.524s
22.  Rodolfo Gonzalez      Addax       2m09.648s  + 2.561s
23.  Jake Rosenzweig       Super Nova  2m09.904s  + 2.817s
24.  Plamen Kralev         Trident     2m12.975s  + 5.888s

Feature race

Luca Filippi easily converted pole into a maiden win for Meritus, leading from start to finish in the feature race despite consistently strong pressure from Davide Valsecchi.

Starting from fourth on the grid, Valsecchi had threaded the needle between Charles Pic and Alvaro Parente in a beautiful, calm and brave move to slot into second position, taking advantage of an empty spot on third place in the grid caused when Oliver Turvey failed to get underway for the formation lap and had to be pushed away to start the race at the back from the pit lane.

Vasecchi’s second position was only threatened once, during the mandatory pit stops: Pic pitted early, made good use of his tyres, and when Valsecchi finally came in and emerged from his own stop it was almost side-by-side with Pic. But Valsecchi isn’t the runaway championship winner for nothing, and his cool head allowed him to position the iSport car in just the right spot to prevent Pic from slipping past.

There was a single safety car late in the race after Christian Vietoris (DAMS) – running in eighth place at the time and in line for the sprint cup pole – staged a remarkably dumb charge on backmarker Plamen Kralev’s Trident car that locked both cars together in a dangerous position at the turn onto the backstraight.

The safety car compressed the field and led to an exciting restart: Jules Bianchi (ART) and Javier Villa (Arden) banged wheels going into turn 4 which allowed DPR’s Giacomo Ricci to take them both in a single sweeping move and claim fifth place, Sam Bird following him through to take sixth at the same time. Bianchi’s woes weren’t over and he also made contact with Filippi’s Meritus team mate Alexander Rossi which put them both out of the points.

Rossi had been impressive early on with a series of overtaking moves early in the race, but he faded in the later stages and attention was grabbed instead by Turvey, who after starting from the pit lane managed to fight his way to within inches of stealing eighth (and sprint race pole) from DAMS’ Edoardo Piscopo, only to run out of time.

Result

Pos  Driver                Team            Time/Gap
 1.  Luca Filippi          Meritus     1h06m15.383s
 2.  Davide Valsecchi      iSport          + 2.058s
 3.  Charles Pic           Arden           + 3.990s
 4.  Alvaro Parente        Coloni          + 6.863s
 5.  Giacomo Ricci         DPR             + 8.085s
 6.  Sam Bird              ART            + 14.845s
 7.  Javier Villa          Arden          + 15.305s
 8.  Edoardo Piscopo       DAMS           + 15.503s
 9.  Oliver Turvey         iSport         + 15.684s
10.  Jules Bianchi         ART            + 18.498s
11.  Alexander Rossi       Meritus        + 22.028s
12.  Vladimir Arabadzhiev  Rapax          + 22.260s
13.  Yelmer Buurman        Ocean          + 26.137s
14.  Dani Clos             Trident        + 26.749s
15.  Will Bratt            Coloni         + 28.031s
16.  Josef Kral            Super Nova     + 30.208s
17.  Jake Rosenzweig       Super Nova     + 31.799s
18.  Michael Herck         DPR            + 48.097s
19.  Max Chilton           Addax            + 1 lap

Retirement:

     Christian Vietoris    DAMS        21 laps
     Plamen Kralev         Trident     20 laps
     Rodolfo Gonzalez      Addax       15 laps
     Luiz Razia            Rapax       1 laps
     Fabio Leimer          Ocean       0 laps

Sprint race

DAMS’ Edoardo Piscopo’s moment of glory in the pole spotlight didn’t even last to the start of the race: as he set off to the grid, he realised to his horror that his right rear tyre was going off on an entirely different direction of its own totally unconnected with the trajectory of the car. Cue one early retirement.

That left a gap at the front of the grid and put Javier Villa in the best position of all – but the start put paid to that, with Villa bogging down horribly as the race got underway, causing him to drop well down the running order to eighth by the first turn.

Sam Bird didn’t get the best of starts either, which allowed Giacomo Ricci to power past from effective third place despite having to swerve to avoid Villa’s stalling Arden car. Ricci swept into the lead and Bird recovered to hold second from Alvaro Parente, and the three were never really seen again for the rest of the day until they popped up in that order on the podium. Ricci gave DPR their first race win since 2005, while it was Bird’s first GP2 podium and Parente’s best result since returning to the series.

The race was more interesting further back. Davide Valsecchi showed that winning the championship had done nothing to quench his competitiveness and he muscled his way up to fourth place, including banging wheels getting past Charles Pic.

Pic had staged an impressive move which took advantage of a clash between Javier Villa and Luca Filippi, but later suffered handling issues that saw him have to pit for new tyres which put him to the back of the field. Filippi too seemed to have come out of the early battles worse for wear with handling problems under braking, typified by the way that Ocean’s Yelmer Buurman was able to get the better of him at the final corner of the race to steal seventh from him.

Once again, young American Alexander Rossi stole much of the attention in the early stages with his intuitive and opportunistic overtaking moves. This time the Meritus didn’t fade in the later stages, but instead Rossi came up to the back of Valsecchi who used every bit of his championship winning skills to keep Rossi behind him. Rossi was clearly better in the twisty in-field sections, but there’s no way past here; and Valsecchi seemed to have the critical final turn/front straightaway/first turn section safely sown up. Rossi did finally get close enough to have a try with four laps remaining, but Valsecchi planted his car in the middle of the track out of turn one which forced Rossi off the track. Rossi was able to get back on without losing a position, but the car wasn’t the same and he never had the pace to try a second time.

Oliver Turvey showed that too much aggression can be a bad thing, an ill-advised first lap lunge on Buurman causing him to bounce heavily across a corner and clip a marker post. Fortunately the contact didn’t damage his car or front wing, but he remained resolutely stuck in eleventh place for the rest of the day.

Result

Pos  Driver                Team           Time/Gap
 1.  Giacomo Ricci         DPR          43m47.744s
 2.  Sam Bird              ART            + 5.369s
 3.  Alvaro Parente        Coloni         + 9.585s
 4.  Davide Valsecchi      iSport        + 15.695s
 5.  Alexander Rossi       Meritus       + 16.559s
 6.  Javier Villa          Arden         + 23.280s
 7.  Yelmer Buurman        Ocean         + 25.403s
 8.  Luca Filippi          Meritus       + 25.949s
 9.  Vladimir Arabadzhiev  Rapax         + 29.077s
10.  Josef Kral            Super Nova    + 30.780s
11.  Oliver Turvey         iSport        + 32.196s
12.  Dani Clos             Trident       + 35.035s
13.  Luiz Razia            Rapax         + 38.628s
14.  Christian Vietoris    DAMS          + 45.567s
15.  Max Chilton           Addax         + 47.373s
16.  Will Bratt            Coloni        + 51.821s
17.  Jake Rosenzweig       Super Nova    + 53.057s
18.  Plamen Kralev         Trident     + 1m12.250s
19.  Charles Pic           Arden       + 1m44.114s

Retirements:

     Jules Bianchi         ART         17 laps
     Rodolfo Gonzalez      Addax       16 laps
     Michael Herck         DPR         16 laps
     Edoardo Piscopo       DAMS        0 laps
     Fabio Leimer          Ocean       0 laps

Championship

The final standings of the 2009/10 GP2 Asia season confirm Davide Valsecchi’s utter domination of proceedings, while Giacomo Ricci’s impressive sprint race win combined with Luca Filippi’s handling issues mean that Ricci equals Filippi’s points for second.

1   Davide Valsecchi    56 
2   Luca Filippi        29 
3   Giacomo Ricci       29 
4   Javier Villa        19 
5   Charles Pic         18 
6   Oliver Turvey       17 
7   Sam Bird            12 
8   Álvaro Parente      12 
9   Alexander Rossi     12 
10  Christian Vietoris   9  
11  Josef Kral           8  
12  Jules Bianchi        8  
13  Michael Herck        7  
14  James Jakes          6  
15  Sergio Pérez         5  
16  Edoardo Piscopo      3  
17  Johnny Cecotto Jr.   3  
18  Max Chilton          2  
19  Adrian Zaugg         1  
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