GP2: Rounds 5/6 – Istanbul, Turkey – May 29/30

Feature race

Pastor Maldonardo dominated the GP2 feature race, bolting away from the starting line and never seen again by rivals or TV viewers until he took the chequered flag nearly 20s ahead of the rest of the field, aking him the fifth winner in five GP2 races.

By contrast, polesitter Davide Valescchi (iSport) had a sluggish start, losing the lead and only just holding off a hard-charging Sergio Perez for second place. Perez was all over the back of Valescchi for the early part of the race but he couldn’t make a pass stick, so he ended up pulling it off when the two came in for their mandatory pit stops at the same time.

Valescchi’s slow start also compromised his team mate Oliver Turvey, who was held up and consequently lost the third spot to Perez and then the fourth to Sam Bird. It was the start of a fairly disastrous race for Turvey, who got a penalty for weaving and blocking, and then a second penalty for speeding in the pit lane during the drive-thru.

Toward the front, Perez’s strong run to started to falter in the latter stages of the race when his handling went off allowing Valescchi to take the position back on lap 26 with a great dive down the inside of Perez on the last corner. That left Perez fighting off the attentions of Sam Bird to retain the final podium position, and his handling was so poor by the end that he couldn’t manage it. That left him fending off his Barwa Addax team mate Giedo van der Garde in the closing minutes, which he managed to do – only to then be excluded form the race altogether for a technical infringement (the car was underweight.)

Spain feature race winner Charles Pic and ART’s Jules Bianchi collided going into turn 3 of lap 1, putting them both out very early in the day. Super Nova’s Marcus Ericsson came to a halt with a rare (for GP2) engine failure on lap 11, while Coloni’s day was ruined by late-race retirements for both drivers: Vladimir Arabadzhiev crashed into the tyrewall with two laps remaining, while Alberto Valerio spun and stalled moments later.

DPR’s Giacomo Ricci was put out of the race by contact with Racing Engineering’s Christian Vietoris while fighting over 8th position. That allowed Michael Herck to get past them, and both Herck and Vietoris subsequently passed Dani Clos which meant that Clos appeared to just miss out on pole position for the sprint race – at least until Perez’s exclusion was announced.

Race result

Pos  Driver               Team                   Time/Gap
 1.  Pastor Maldonado     Rapax                52m33.219s
 2.  Davide Valsecchi     iSport                + 19.531s
 3.  Sam Bird             ART                   + 23.327s
 4.  Giedo van der Garde  Barwa Addax           + 26.129s
 5.  Luiz Razia           Rapax                 + 26.746s
 6.  Michael Herck        DPR                   + 30.444s
 7.  Christian Vietoris   Racing Engineering    + 36.719s
 8.  Dani Clos            Racing Engineering    + 41.469s
 9.  Max Chilton          Ocean                 + 48.582s
10.  Jerome D'Ambrosio    DAMS                  + 49.848s
11.  Ho-Pin Tung          DAMS                  + 50.315s
12.  Johnny Cecotto       Trident               + 55.996s
13.  Fabio Leimer         Ocean               + 1m06.801s
14.  Oliver Turvey        iSport              + 1m08.392s
15.  Josef Kral           Super Nova          + 1m22.464s
16.  Rodolfo Gonzalez     Arden               + 1m23.789s
17.  Alberto Valerio      Coloni                 + 3 laps

Retirements:

     Vladimir Arabadjiev  Coloni              27 laps
     Adrian Zaugg         Trident             27 laps
     Giacomo Ricci        DPR                 25 laps
     Marcus Ericsson      Super Nova          11 laps
     Charles Pic          Arden               1 lap
     Jules Bianchi        ART                 1 lap
     Sergio Perez         Barwa Addax         Excluded

Sprint race

Dani Clos had been gifted pole position by Sergio Perez’s exclusion, but he put his good fortune to great effect by converting pole into an immediate lead that was never challenged, allowing him to claim his maiden GP2 victory.

It looked as though Racing Engineering were set for a one-two triumph, with Christian Vietoris starting from second place; but Vietoris ground to a halt out on track on lap 9 with technical problems.

Addax’s Giedo van de Garde got the better of Michael Herck for third place, and Davide Valsecchi got past Herck as well and tried his best to exert pressure on van de Garde to take the final podium position but ultimately wasn’t able to pull it off.

Feature race winner Pastor Maldonado (Rapax) once again had great pace and climbed to sixth place to claim the final point of the day, but was unable to improve any further. He finished just ahead of Sergio Perez, who had a brilliant and inspired race – blazing from last place on the grid after his feature race exclusion to finish seventh – but nonetheless ended up without any points for all this impressive driving.

On the downside, Sam Bird’s car was a shadow of it s Saturday self, and its performance dropped off a cliff in the final laps where Bird found himself 2s a lap off the pace and passed in quick succession by d’Ambrosio, Perez and Ho-Pin Tung.

There was some controversial racing involving Giacomo Ricci, Fabio Leimer and Jules Bianchi, with Leimer almost barging Bianchi into the pit lane entry at the end of lap 4, which ended up allowing Giacomo Ricci to then overtake them both on the start-finish straight; and on the final corner of the race, Leimer tried to squeeze past Ricci, who pinched him toward the pit lane but thought better of it; Leimer then moved over and barged him out of the way, his right front wheel putting a sizeable dent into the DPR car’s sidepod and sending Ricci off tack altogether which allowed Rodolfo Gonzalez to sneak through before the finishing line. Amazingly after these antics, Leimer seemed to get away with the morning’s racing without penalty.

Adrian Zaugg retired on lap 17 after his car was mounted at the side by Marcus Ericsson who was making an ill-advised overtaking move on the inside into a lefthander; Ericsson was handed a 10-place grid penalty for Valencia for causing the accident. Coloni’s Vladimir Arabadjiev continued a depressing weekend with an early retirement, while Arden’s Charles Pic did not even make it to the track – he missed the sprint race because of food poisoning.

Race result

Pos  Driver               Team                  Time/Gap
 1.  Dani Clos            Racing Engineering  37m25.211s
 2.  Luiz Razia           Rapax                 + 8.870s
 3.  Giedo van der Garde  Barwa Addax          + 12.996s
 4.  Davide Valsecchi     iSport               + 13.479s
 5.  Michael Herck        DPR                  + 14.503s
 6.  Pastor Maldonado     Rapax                + 19.118s
 7.  Sergio Perez         Barwa Addax          + 20.080s
 8.  Jerome D'Ambrosio    DAMS                 + 20.488s
 9.  Ho-Pin Tung          DAMS                 + 23.868s
10.  Sam Bird             ART                  + 29.560s
11.  Max Chilton          Ocean                + 31.666s
12.  Johnny Cecotto       Trident              + 36.159s
13.  Jules Bianchi        ART                  + 40.549s
14.  Josef Kral           Super Nova           + 40.625s
15.  Fabio Leimer         Ocean                + 48.444s
16.  Rodolfo Gonzalez     Arden                + 48.682s
17.  Giacomo Ricci        DPR                  + 49.061s
18.  Oliver Turvey        iSport                 + 1 lap
19.  Alberto Valerio      Coloni                + 2 laps

Retirements:

     Adrian Zaugg         Trident             17 laps
     Christian Vietoris   Racing Engineering  9 laps
     Marcus Ericsson      Super Nova          5 laps
     Vladimir Arabadjiev  Coloni              3 laps
     Charles Pic          Arden               0 laps

GP2 championship

Pos Driver                   Points
1   Pastor Maldonado         27
2   Daniel Clos              23
3   Luiz Razia               20
4   Sergio Perez             17
5   Giedo van der Garde      17
6   Davide Valsecchi         13
7   Sam Bird                 11
8   Jules Bianchi            11
9   Charles Pic              10
10  Fabio Leimer             8
11  Giacomo Ricci            8
12  Jerome D'Ambrosio        7
13  Oliver Turvey            6
14  Michael Herck            5
15  Alberto Valerio          4
16  Johnny Cecotto Jr.       3
17  Christian Vietoris       2
18  Josef Kral               0
19  Ho-Pin Tung              0
20  Marcus Ericsson          0
21  Max Chilton              0
22  Rodolfo Gonzalez         0
23  Adrian Zaugg             0
24  Vlado Arabadjiev         0

Pos Team                     Points
1   Rapax                    47
2   Barwa Addax Team         34
3   Racing Engineering       25
4   ART Grand Prix           22
5   iSport International     19
6   DPR                      13
7   Arden International      10
8   Ocean Racing Technology  8
9   DAMS                     7
10  Scuderia Coloni          4
11  Trident Racing           3
12  Super Nova Racing        0
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