Feature Race (May 7th)
DAMS racer Romain Grosjean opened his 2011 GP2 campaign is assured style with victory over iSport pilot Sam Bird.
Grosjean led from the start, pulling out a five second gap over Bird – who suffered a poor start – before the Briton reeled in the French / Swiss national in the final; however as much as Bird applied pressure, Grosjean would not break.
The pair enjoyed a significant gap over 3rd place man Jules Bianchi. The Italian fought hard with rivals Dani Clos and Luca Filippi in the early laps for the podium spot, until a slow pitstop left Bianchi battling for scraps.
A dramatic fight back ensued, as Bianchi surged up the order before making late moves on Clos and Dutchman Giedo van der Garde to assume 3rd spot.
Van der Garde eventually came home 4th ahead of Stefano Coletti – a solid run considering they both started well in the midpack, while Luiz Razia closed out the top six.
Charles Pic drove a fantastic race to take 7th after a poor stop left him stranded in 15th – like Bianchi, the Frenchman pushed his way up the order. Pic was helped in the final few tours – as others lost grip on their ageing Pirelli tyres, the Barwa Addax man climbed from 12th to 9th in the final four tours, taking Marcus Ericsson and Clos on the last lap.
Clos came home 8th, despite running as high as 4th – the Spaniard’s race fell apart, much like his tyres, in the final laps, leaving him scrambling for grip. Ericsson and Davide Rigon took the final points spots in 9th and 10th respectively.
The high flying Filippi lost out at the halfway point, when he was side swiped by an out of control Johnny Cecotto Jr – retiring both immediately.
However that accident was nothing like the opening lap smash – instigated by Filippi – which saw Fabio Leimer bounce through the air, landing hard at the exit of turn 2.
As the pack fed through the first turns, Filippi ran wide, but his quick turn to rejoin caused a chain reaction that violently removed Leimer from the action.
2011 GP2 Round of Istanbul (Rd 1, Feature Race, 32 laps) Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Romain Grosjean DAMS 57:09.999 2. Sam Bird iSport +0.322 3. Jules Bianchi Lotus-ART +35.856 4. Giedo van der Garde Barwa Addax +45.933 5. Stefano Coletti Trident +52.280 6. Luiz Razia AirAsia +52.866 7. Charles Pic Barwa Addax +1:03.117 8. Dani Clos Racing Engineering +1:11.822 9. Marcus Ericsson iSport +1:12.913 10. Davide Rigon Scuderia Coloni +1:15.636 FL. Sam Bird 1:37.580
Sprint Race (May 8th)
Stefano Coletti took a startling victory in the opening GP2 Sprint Race of the year, ahead of the feisty Giedo van der Garde and Sam Bird.
The Monegasque driver started 4th, taking Luiz Razia for 3rd off the line before moving into 2nd ahead of Charles Pic several corners later.
Coletti the pressed early leader Dani Clos, sitting on the Spaniard’s tail for several laps, eventually making the decisive move for the lead on the seventh lap. There would be little pressure from behind for the rest of the running as Coletti ran away with the big points.
Giedo van der Garde brought his Barwa Addax machine home 2nd after he too had a great opening few laps. Van der Garde started 5th, but was 3rd after the first tour as Razia and Pic continued to fall backward.
Van der Garde would have to wait until lap ten to take 2nd spot, as Clos began to struggle badly for grip.
Sam Bird completed the podium after a thrilling drive, despite being attacked by his teammate in the late running. The English held the fourth row at the start, before gingerly making his way up the order during the event.
A quick launch gave Bird 6th, before the iSport man assumed spots from Razia (lap 9) and Clos (lap 13) brought Bird to the tail of Pic, with Bird making a final lap pass on the Frenchman.
The loss of a podium was a disappointment for Pic, who held Bird off expertly for several laps.
Fairuz Fauzy took his first ever GP2 points thanks to a 5th place finish. The Malaysian ran a good race, coming from 12th on the grid, capitalising as others made errors.
Czech pilot Josef Kral enjoyed a similar experience in his Arden machine, assuming the final points paying position following a solid drive from the seventh row.
Beyond that there was plenty of disappointment, but none more so than for Jules Bianchi. The Italian found himself punted from the action by rival Romain Grosjean at the end of the first lap, dropping Bianchi to a distant 23rd.
A superb fightback from the Lotus-ART driver saw him cut through the field with, crossing the finish 7th and just missing out on a point. Grosjean fell to 25th after a pitstop, climbing to 10th at the flag, setting the fastest lap along the way.
For poleman and early leader Clos, what should have been a big points day turned to dust as the race aged. Poor tyre wear caused the Spaniard to fall backward, forcing Clos to pit late in the event – he would come home 15th.
Davide Valsecchi was also a big to tyre wear. The Italian started 16th, but had risen to 7th by lap eight, only for his race to collapse in the latter half of the running, dropping Valsecchi to 16th.
The race was interrupted by the safety car period near the end of the event. Julian Leal clipped the rear of Davide Rigon on the start / finish straight, send Rigon hard into the pit wall, suffering multiple fractures as a result. As a result, Leal would be handed a ten-place grid penalty for the following Feature Race in Barcelona.
2011 GP2 Round of Istanbul (Rd 1, Sprint Race, 23 laps) Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Stefano Coletti Trident 41:40.571 2. Giedo van der Garde Barwa Addax +2.184 3. Sam Bird iSport +2.756 4. Charles Pic Barwa Addax +3.243 5. Fairuz Fauzy Super Nova +3.502 6. Josef Kral Arden +5.038 7. Jules Bianchi Lotus-ART +5.373 8. Marcus Ericsson iSport +5.602 9. Jolyon Palmer Arden +7.143 10. Romain Grosjean DAMS +7.501 FL. Romain Grosjean 1:38.442 2011 GP2 Series (Rd 1) Drivers' Championship Pos Driver Points 1. Romain Grosjean 13 2. Sam Bird 13 3. Stefano Coletti 10 4. Giedo van der Garde 10 5. Jules Bianchi 6 Teams' Championship Pos Team Points 1. Barwa Addax 15 2. DAMS 13 3. iSport 13 4. Trident 10 5. Lotus-ART 6