GP2: action-packed start to European season

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarSunday, April 27th, 2008

 
 

The European season of GP2 kicked off in style with two action-filled races in Barcelona – but there was precious little to celebrate for British drivers Mike Conway and Ben Hanley.

Incident-packed feature and sprint races left Alvaro Parente and Bruno Senna as joint leaders in the standings with 11 points each.

And GP2 Asia champion Romain Grosjean forced stewards into a decision that may have implications for F1 as well, after making a defensive move so reckless while protecting his sprint race lead that a drive-through penalty was inevitable.

The punishment, applied when victory was in his grasp, will serve to warn drivers at all levels that rules on defensive driving will be enforced.

Earlier in the weekend, Pastor Maldonado of Piquet Racing qualified on pole for the sprint race with Alvaro Parente of Super Nova in second. It was Maldonado’s first pole since Monaco in 2007, a race he went on to win.

His team-mate Andreas Zuber and iSport’s Bruno Senna were on the second row. And Brits Mike Conway for Trident Racing and Ben Hanley for Campos lined up 10th and 15th on the grid respectively.

But, come race day, Maldonado wasn’t able to make his pole position pay. Parente was able to grab the lead in turn one and hold it for most of the remaining laps, apart from a short intervention from Senna, who kept him under constant pressure to finish second. Zuber was third.

The race itself was chaotic in parts, with the first start called off thanks to a stall on the grid and a pile-up narrowly averted during the second after Maldonado did not get away as quickly as expected.

On lap two Conway was involved in an incident with Luca Filippi of ART racing which brought out the safety car. Hanley was also involved in a multi-car incident in which Christian Bakkerud made contact with him, resulting in the retirement of several drivers.

Neither Conway nor Hanley made it past these obstacles and so both saw their first GP2 race of the 2008 season end in retirement.

In race two today Grosjean and Kamui Kobayashi managed to see off Sebastien Buemi and Vitali Petrov at the start – but Grosjean was given a drive-through penalty for aggressive driving that handed Kobayashi the win.

The ART driver waited until the last possible moment to head off into the pits, prompting speculation that he might be about to ignore the stewards’ decision and earn himself a grid penalty in the next race, but finally accepted his fate in the penultimate lap. He was classified as finishing 13th.

Sebastien Buemi and Giorgio Pantano finished second and third, despite a race-long battle by Pantano to reverse their positions. Both Conway and Hanley were able to record finishes in this race, coming eighth and ninth respectively, but neither takes away any points.

Results: feature race

  1. Alvaro Parente, Super Nova
  2. Bruno Senna, iSport
  3. Andreas Zuber, Piquet
  4. Giorgio Pantano, Racing Engineering
  5. Romain Grosjean, ART
  6. Vitaly Petrov, Campos
  7. Sébastien Buemi, Arden
  8. Kamui Kobayashi, DAMS
  9. Karun Chandhok, iSport
  10. Davide Valsecchi, Durango
  11. Luca Filippi, ART
  12. Pastor Maldonado, Piquet
  13. Alberto Valerio, Durango
  14. Javier Villa, Racing Engineering
  15. Diego Nunes, DPR
  16. Giacomo Ricci, DPR
  17. Paolo Nocera, BCN
  18. Adrian Valles, FMSI
  • Christian Bakkerud, Super Nova – DNF
  • Yelmer Buurman, Arden – DNF
  • Ben Hanley, Campos – DNF
  • Jérôme d’Ambrosio, DAMS – DNF
  • Roldan Rodriguez, FMSI – DNF
  • Ho-Pin Tung, Trident – DNF
  • Mike Conway, Trident – DNF
  • Milos Pavlovic, BCN – DNF

Results: sprint race

  1. Kamui Kobayashi, DAMS
  2. Sebastien Buemi, Arden
  3. Giorgio Pantano, Racing Engineering
  4. Bruno Senna, iSport
  5. Davide Valsecchi, Durango
  6. Javier Villa, Racing Engineering
  7. Alvaro Parente, Super Nova
  8. Mike Conway, Trident
  9. Ben Hanley, Campos
  10. Yelmer Buurman, Arden
  11. Adrian Valles, FMS
  12. Milos Pavlovic, BCN
  13. Romain Grosjean, ART
  14. Ho-Pin Tung, Trident
  15. Jerome D’Ambrosio, DAMS
  16. Diego Nunes, DPR
  • Pastor Maldonado, Piquet Sports – DNF
  • Andi Zuber, Piquet Sports – DNF
  • Karun Chandhok, iSport – DNF
  • Giacomo Ricci, DPR – DNF
  • Vitaly Petrov, Campos – DNF
  • Alberto Valerio, Durango – DNF
  • Roldan Rodriguez, FMS – DNF
  • Paolo Nocera, BCN – DNF
  • Luca Filippi, ART – DNF

Standings

  1. Alvaro Parente – 11 points
  2. Bruno Senna – 11 points
  3. Giorgio Pantano – 9 points
  4. Kamui Kobayashi – 8 points
  5. Sebastien Buemi – 7 points
  6. Andreas Zuber – 6 points
  7. Romain Grosjean – 4 points
  8. Vitaly Petrov – 3 points
  9. Pastor Maldonado – 2 points
  10. Davide Valsecchi – 2 points
  11. Javier Villa – 1 point

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