Feature Race (July 23rd)
Luca Filippi charged to a fantastic Feature Race victory in his 100th GP2 event at the Nurburgring.
A mixture of perfect strategy and race craft delivered maximum points for the Italian, beating polesitter Charles Pic to the flag by 5.55 seconds. Championship leader Romain Grosjean completed the podium in 3rd.
The victory also marked Filippi’s return to the Scuderia Coloni team in place of the departed Kevin Ceccon.
Pic opened a two-second lead over his veteran challenger during the opening stint; however the pitstops proved a game changer. Stopping on the fourteenth lap, Pic struggled to garner tyre temperature while Filippi set a blistering pace in clear air.
Pitting the following lap, Filippi emerged ahead, but despite his best efforts, Pic was unable to wrestle the advantage away from the Italian, leaving Filippi to take the honours.
Pic’s pace was enough to hold Grosjean at bay in the final tours, to see the pair come home 2nd and 3rd; however with many of his title rivals behind him, Grosjean appeared to drive a more relaxed race.
One of those rivals was Jules Bianchi who took 4th, nearly half-a-minute adrift of the podium. The Lotus-ART man had initially taken Grosjean on the opening lap to run 3rd briefly, but lost this – and more positions – during a sluggish pitstop. A pass on Giedo van der Garde brought Bianchi 4th, but his pace proved too weak to keep with the leaders.
Marcus Ericsson secured a good run to 5th. Passes on Esteban Gutierrez and Dani Clos brought the Swede into points contention. Although an early stop dropped Ericsson into the pack, it did offer enough mid-race speed to jump Álvaro Parente and Fabio Leimer.
Ericsson enjoyed a fantastic late race battle with van der Garde, breaking the Dutch pilot on the penultimate lap, as Ericsson forcefully assume 5th at the chicane. Van der Garde, who had pitted on lap eight laps, lost four-seconds on the final tour on his way to 6th.
Clos led a close six-way battle for 7th onwards, beating Sam Bird, Fabio Leimer and Rodolfo Gonzalez to the flag, although the battle was tainted somewhat by Leimer’s actions.
The Swiss pilot clumsily collided with both Luiz Razia and Adam Carroll in the final laps, taking the pair out and earning Leimer disqualification for poor driving standards.
Parente held the pack of six off for several laps in a clean and expertly judged manner, only to fall foul of a penalty from the steward prior to the finish.
An early safety car period slowed proceedings when Pål Varhaug clashed with Kevin Mirocha, while at the same time Davide Valsecchi ran over the rear wing of Christian Vietoris.
2011 GP2 Round of Nurburgring (Rd 6, Feature Race, 34 laps) Pos Driver Team Time / Gap 1. Luca Filippi Scuderia Coloni 1:01:06.975 2. Charles Pic Barwa Addax +5.558 3. Romain Grosjean DAMS +6.877 4. Jules Bianchi Lotus-ART +33.491 5. Marcus Ericsson iSport +37.716 6. Giedo van der Garde Barwa Addax +41.146 7. Dani Clos Racing Engineering +45.977 8. Sam Bird iSport +46.461 9. Rodolfo Gonzalez Trident +48.452 10. Johnny Cecotto Jr. Ocean Racing Tech. +1:12.166 FL. Luca Filippi 1:42.696
Sprint Race (July 24th)
A late race push for the lead gave Romain Grosjean his fourth GP2 victory of the season.
In damp conditions, the French / Swiss national wriggled by a struggling Jules Bianchi to claim the six points on offer for the Sprint Race, after seeing off a late challenge from Luca Filippi.
As the circuit dried, the race proved to be a goldmine of overtaking with Bianchi and Grosjean rising from the third row to be 2nd and 3rd respectively at the end of the first lap.
That became the race lead for Bianchi, as Sam Bird fell off at Bit-Kurve, before a clumsy attempt on Esteban Gutierrez would soon see him lose part of his front wing, dropping him to 10th, later recovering to 7th.
Grosjean fended off the advances of Gutierrez, with the Mexican emerging on top as they pitted for dry tyres on lap 14. Unfortunately an ill-fitting right rear tyre ended Gutierrez’ run near the front, gifting Grosjean an easy 2nd.
Towards the end, Bianchi struggled in the drying conditions, allowing Grosjean to close up. The pair swapped positions with three laps remaining, but a mistake by Bianchi at Veedol on the penultimate lap opened the door for Grosjean to assume the lead and the victory.
Luca Filippi made it close. Starting 8th, the Italian rose to 6th by the end of the first lap, before engaging in a thrilling battle with Gutierrez, Charles Pic and Max Chilton for 3rd. Once dispatched, Filippi chased after the lead, suffering a couple of half spins as he attacked the vulnerable Bianchi.
Christian Vietoris turned in a star drive for 4th. The Racing Engineering driver started 23rd, taking ten spots in the damp. Vietoris’ car stayed good in the dry, allowing him to take the wet set-ups machines with ease.
Also impressive was Adam Carroll. The Portadown man started from the eighth row, reaching the points at half way as others fell off. Chilton, who raced well in the wet, lost out as the circuit dried, dropping to 6th at the chequered flag.
AirAsia’s kept their drivers out on wets in the hope rain would return, allowing Davide Valsecchi to lead for a time with Luiz Razia in tow. Both fell backward as the race aged, with Razia eventually finishing 14th. Valsecchi retired after colliding with Jolyon Palmer.
Pic was disqualified post-race. The Frenchman received a penalty for a pitlane infringement, only to ignore the order for a drive through.
With the dust settled, Grosjean pulled a large lead in the title hunt with three rounds remaining – so much so, the DAMS pilot could almost take a weekend off. An 18-point gap to van der Garde left Grosjean with one hand on the crown.
2011 GP2 Round of Nurburgring (Rd 6, Sprint Race, 21 laps) Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Romain Grosjean DAMS 45:09.296 2. Jules Bianchi Lotus-ART +1.569 3. Luca Filippi Scuderia Coloni +7.768 4. Christian Vietoris Racing Engineering +14.388 5. Adam Carroll Super Nova +24.962 6. Max Chilton Carlin +42.102 7. Sam Bird iSport +42.428 8. Fabio Leimer Rapax +45.561 9. Julián Leal Rapax +59.610 10. Michael Herck Scuderia Coloni +1:04.044 FL. Christian Vietoris 1:46.494 2011 GP2 Series (Rd 6) Drivers’ Championship Pos Driver Points 1. Romain Grosjean 59 2. Giedo van der Garde 41 3. Charles Pic 34 4. Sam Bird 33 5. Jules Bianchi 32 Teams’ Championship Pos Team Points 1. Barwa Addax 75 2. DAMS 59 3. iSport 54 4. Racing Engineering 46 5. AirAsia 41