Feature Race (May 21st)
Charles Pic picked up the second GP2 win of his career at Barcelona in a Feature Race twice interrupted by the safety car.
The Frenchman narrowly took the spoils over teammate Giedo van der Garde to make it a Barwa Addax 1-2 at the Catalunya circuit. iSport’s Sam Bird completed the podium with an unchallenged run to the flag.
Van der Garde and Bird led much of the race, with Pic trailing in 3rd; however sluggish pitstops for the front running pair saw the fall behind the eventual winner.
Although tyre wear was higher than normal, Pic chose to change only his rear Pirelli’s saving him even more time, as he rivals fumbled.
Romain Grosjean brought his DAMS-prepared machine home a quiet 4th, only for it to be taken away post-race when it was deemed his Renault-powered Dallara did not comply with the regulations.
It would promote Davide Valsecchi and Marcus Ericsson to 4th and 5th respectively, although it could have been far better for both.
Valsecchi lost positions off the line due to a poor start, while in a bizarre incident under the first safety car, Ericsson would not retake Racing Engineering’s Dani Clos after the Spaniard passed Ericsson under yellows. The respective incidents would leave both drivers behind leading foursome once the race restarted.
Clos eventually saw Ericsson passed, although his race had also been dented by the delay. His run was hurt further thanks to a sluggish stop, but a quick sprint mid-race allowed the Spaniard to retake several positions as others pitted for fresh rubber.
Jules Bianchi also enjoyed a varied race. The Italian was involved in a start line accident that saw AirAsia’s Luiz Razia bounce off him and into the side of Luca Filippi.
Luckily Bianchi received no damage; however Razia damaged his front wing and suspension, causing to retire several laps in to the race. Filippi came across worst – his Super Nova machine spun dramatically on the grid, hitting the pit wall hard, bringing out an early safety car.
Meanwhile Bianchi, who had fallen to 13th, came to life in the second half of the race, charging to 8th at the flag, which became 7th following Grosjean’s disqualification.
Drive of the day went to Fabio Leimer. The Swiss pilot crashed in qualifying, leaving him to start last; however the Rapax racer charged through the field climbing to 15th by lap 26. The final eight laps would see Leimer make up a further six places, before being promoted to 8th post-race.
Unlike Leimer, Esteban Gutierrez came away from the Feature Race in a less the positive light. The Mexican charmlessly punted Michael Herck out on the way on lap 21, locking both cars together in a pointless accident, earning Gutierrez a grid penalty for the Sprint Race (he would start 25th).
With both cars blocking the circuit at turn five, the safety car was called for a second time, neutralising the field once again.
Of note, Álvaro Parente returned to the series in place of the ill Christian Vietoris at Racing Engineering, while Kevin Ceccon replaced the injured Davide Rigon at Scuderia Coloni, thereby becoming the youngest driver ever to compete in GP2. The substitutes would come home 11th and 19th respectively.
2011 GP2 Round of Barcelona (Rd 2, Feature Race, 34 laps) Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Charles Pic Barwa Addax 1:00:32.817 2. Giedo van der Garde Barwa Addax +1.444 3. Sam Bird iSport +2.773 4. Davide Valsecchi AirAsia +10.011 5. Marcus Ericsson iSport +10.518 6. Dani Clos Racing Engineering +16.534 7. Jules Bianchi Lotus-ART +16.979 8. Fabio Leimer Rapax +17.419 9. Josef Kral Arden +21.726 10. Stefano Coletti Trident +24.492 FL. Giedo van der Garde 1:33.959
Sprint Race (May 22nd)
Fabio Leimer claimed his first GP2 win of the season, with a Sprint Race victory over Dani Clos.
Leimer commanded the shorter event with aplomb, opening up a 10.1 second gap come the chequered flag, while Marcus Ericsson brought his iSport machine home 3rd, a further ten seconds adrift in what was a mostly lacklustre race.
One of the those who protected his tyres early on was AirAsia’s Davide Valsecchi. The Italian ran 5th in the early running, before taking the struggling Sam Bird for 4th with three laps to go.
Valsecchi may well have had 3rd place too had he not run out of time. The AirAsia runner took seven seconds out of Ericsson in the final laps; however the Swede held the podium spot over the line, a mere 0.215 ahead of the charging Valsecchi.
With 5th place cemented, Bird’s pace fell away in the final two laps, but with a large gap to 6th place Fairuz Fauzy, the Englishman had little to worry about.
A steady drive by Fauzy earned the Malaysia his second points finish of the season in 6th, although the Super Nova man was the beneficiary of a late race clash between Josef Kral and Stefano Coletti, when a gripless Coletti collected Kral during an overtake for 6th spot.
Romain Grosjean had an excellent race, unfortunately without any profit. The DAMS pilot started 26th and last, but began tearing through the field in the latter half of the race – including a move to take three drivers in two corners – eventually coming home 19th.
It would be six laps before the race could get going, thanks to yet another start-line crash bringing out the safety car. In this instance, Lotus-ART’s Jules Bianchi suffered poor start.
Moving across circuit to defend his already weakened position, Bianchi swung across the front of Giedo van der Garde, pushing both into the trackside barrier. It would be enough to earn Bianchi a five-place grid drop for the following round at Monaco.
Charles Pic picked up a damaged front wing from the flying debris, necessitating an early stop. It hamstrung the rest of his race, leaving him 19th and last.
2011 GP2 Round of Barcelona (Rd 2, Sprint Race, 26 laps) Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Fabio Leimer Rapax 45:26.885 2. Dani Clos Racing Engineering +10.190 3. Marcus Ericsson iSport +20.711 4. Davide Valsecchi AirAsia +20.926 5. Sam Bird iSport +27.339 6. Fairuz Fauzy Super Nova +38.974 7. Álvaro Parente Racing Engineering +40.280 8. Pål Varhaug DAMS +41.855 9. Romain Grosjean DAMS +41.925 10. Rodolfo Gonzalez Trident +51.503 FL. Charles Pic Barwa Addax 1:33.725 2011 GP2 Series (Rd 2) Drivers' Championship Pos Driver Points 1. Giedo van der Garde 21 2. Sam Bird 21 3. Charles Pic 15 4. Romain Grosjean 13 5. Stefano Coletti 10 Teams' Championship Pos Team Points 1. Barwa Addax 36 2. iSport 29 3. DAMS 13 4. AirAsia 11 5. Trident 10