Catch-Up: GP2 Asia – 5&6 – Bahrain

GP2 Asia Series
Rnd 5, Bahrain Feature
Held 23 Jan / Watched 31 Aug

This is GP2 Asia’s first of two visits for the 2008/’09 winter series, the second visit will come as the support to the F1 race in April. As always, first up we have the feature race which today is for 34 laps. These are my ‘short notes’ – I want to cover lots more racing and I’m still working out the best way to do it, either short-form versions of the notes posts or more general impressions like the recent A1GP post.

I’ve got the Eurosport commentary team of Martin Haven and Gareth Rees. Haven is the 2nd tier / junior series extraordinaire, he seems to do commentary on literally *everything* outside of F1 in Europe. Rees is an experienced driver at this level having competed in F3000 for a while before running out of money.

Gridded. Long hold on the start..
Hulkenberg leads into turn one. Kobayashi 2nd. At least 3 stallers.

Stallers are clear as leaders complete lap one, either got fired on the grid or were pulled into pitlane for refiring..

Lots of action back in the pack. GP2 cars, particularly in the Asia Series, are not easily identifiable and less so the drivers. No standout colour schemes. The cameras being so far from the race track don’t help, they aren’t zooming in enough.

Top 5 after 2 laps: Hulkenberg, Kobayashi, Mortara, d’Ambrosio, Rodriguez

Haven on Hulkenberg: “Willi Weber will try and talk him into being the next Schumacher, whether that’s Michael or Ralf remains to be seen.” Ha!

Dive-bomb into turn 1! Cars left, right, everywhere as they try and lap a backmarker who was delayed when he stalled at the start. Backmarker should have eased off and let the leaders through, he just got in the way.. d’Ambrosio ahead of Mortara in the melee.

After 8 laps, Hulkenberg and Kobayashi have checked out on the rest of the field. Kamui is pushing hard and is only 0.37sec behind Nico, trying to pressure the F3 Euroseries champ into a mistake. Commentary guys earlier made the point that Nico won’t be used to the race lengths and the higher g-forces of these cars compared to F3, and that’ll come into play in the second stint.

We’re not really seeing what’s going on with the rest of the field, which is a shame. This earlier generation car is more entertaining than the current European series car, we’re bound to be missing something good back there.

Eventually we see it.. just a long line of cars. I’m disappointed.

Kobayashi passes Hulkenberg into turn 1! Very late on the brakes, nice move.

Pitstops, 14 laps done 20 to go.
Wheels bang, Perez and Villa touch!
Top six are running longer on their stops.

Problem for Hulkenberg’s tyre changer, long stop on the right rear. Cost him a position to Mortara.

Hulkenberg is faster than Mortara, he’s trying it on Mortara with Rodriguez & co closing in.

Valsecchi passes van der Garde, caught him completely unawares, good move.
Ricci got tagged into a spin.. put himself on the apex and someone clouted him. Not sure of his position in the order..

Kobayashi leads d’Ambrosio by about 8sec, with Mortara and Hulkenberg 6sec further back.

Pretty poor driving standards in this field, particularly Razia weaving all around, looking like ramming his opponents off the track.. I know the Asia Series attracts new drivers rather than series returnees but this is silly.

Valsecchi has passed Rodriguez, working his way up the field from 10th, doing a good job. Rodriguez could have a problem because van der Garde is catching fast as well, or is he just slow.. commentary is saying he was an early stopper, could he have worn his tyres out?

Kobayashi wins!! – despite there being no flag until the 2nd place man crosses the line… oops.

Points go to D’Ambrosio, Mortara, Hulkenberg, Valsecchi, Rodriguez, van der Garde, and the reverse grid pole to Perez.

Pretty boring race after the stops, seems to be a theme for these Asia Series races, action early on then gets dull quickly. The two DAMS cars hammered the field here, good job from them. Kobayashi is still at racing speed on what is meant to be the cooldown lap… he didn’t see a flag so he’s carrying on! Eventually he gets the message and heads to parc ferme.

Truly awful standards on the last lap when someone tried to run Yamamoto off the track, could have been Razia again! Let’s hope things are better for the Sprint, and also for the F1 visit later in the year. Keep scrolling for the next one..

****
GP2 Asia Series
R6, Bahrain Sprint
Held Jan 24 / Watched Aug 31

23 lap sprint race, no stops, reverse top 8 on the grid, points only to 6th in this race.

Good start from Perez, has a healthy lead through turn 1. Cars 3-wide after turn 1! Another stalled car on the grid.
Van der Garde pitted at the end of the formation lap but seems to be running now.
Nunes comes out of the pits after missing the start, he may have been the staller left behind this time.

Replay of a great start from Villa, up from row 5 to brake ultra-late into turn one and is now 4th. Courageous! Of course had he got it wrong he’d looks stupid..

D’Ambrosio passes his teammate Kobayashi.
Ooh, lots of action all down the field!
Petrov and Yamamoto going at it, Petrov coming off better.

Wow, 4-wide, nearly 5-wide for a short while! I think this is the same group, Yamamoto, Petrov, Gonzalez, Bonanomi and a couple of others – people keep catching this group which is being held up by Gonzalez.

Perez leads, Valsecchi, Hulkenberg, Valles are the top 4.

Al-Fardan proves he’s completely out of his depth as he wanders all over the road, then fails to brake for the corner, hits Razia and loses his front wing – has to pit for a repair. Razia wasn’t at fault at all, perhaps unusually.

D’Ambrosio has passed Villa for 4th – switchback move, good stuff!

Valsecchi is catching Perez who may be struggling for grip. d’Ambrosio passes Hulkenberg with less than a lap to go!

Perez wins by 0.7 seconds!

Perez, Valsecchi, D’Ambrosio, Hulkenberg, Villa, Kobayashi (who seemed a little off-pace).
D’Ambrosio started 7th, good job to get a podium. Bamber finishes 7th, Mortara 8th but no points for those in the sprint race.

Good entertaining stuff this one.

Points:
1. Kobayashi 34
2. Valsecchi 24
3. Rodriguez 22
4. D’Ambrosio 17
5. Villa 12
6. Perez 10
7. Hulkenberg 10
8. Bamber 8

Next up is Losail, Qatar – which is GP2’s first night race – and then a visit to Malaysia to hook up with F1 before the finale which is back here in Bahrain.

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