GP2: Hulkenberg excels in front of home crowd

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarSunday, July 12th, 2009

 
 

Nico Hulkenberg has displaced Barwa’s Romain Grosjean from the top of the GP2 championship after taking every point available to him in front of a home crowd in his native Germany.

The ART driver went into the weekend fourth in the standings and emerged having knocked Grosjean and his team-mate Vitaly Petrov into second and third place respectively.

He is the first driver to claim a full slate of points – two race wins, one bonus point for the fastest lap and two for feature lap pole – since Nelson A Piquet managed the feat in 2006.

Petrov claimed top spot in the free practice session with a best lap of 1:38.752 – fourth tenths from his nearest challenger, Hulkenberg, who was followed by Piquet’s Roldan Rodriguez.

Qualifying: Hulkenberg grabs pole in yellow-flagged session

Hülkenberg grabbed pole position by less than a tenth of a second, beating Rodriguez to the top spot despite the two men being run close by Racing Engineering’s Lucas di Grassi.

The Williams F1 reserve driver’s best lap of 1:38.161 came after a session-long battle enlivened by rain when he found a clear track with just five minutes remaining.

The weather drove all the teams out early then immediately brightened. With all the drivers in the race to set a decent time on their first set of tyres Super Nova’s pairing of Luca Filippi and Javier Villa immediately impressed in addition to di Grassi and Hülkenberg.

Fresh tyres sent Rodriguez to the top of the timesheets but Hulkenberg then Filippi both deposed him before a spin and a yellow flag put paid to his chances. Rodriguez was the first man back on track but Hülkenberg was on the attack, claiming the top spot.

Filippi was the next man to spin on a hot lap and bring out the yellow flags, securing pole position for Hulkenberg by just 0.089 of a second. Behind the top three were ART’s Pastor Maldonado, Villa, FMS’ Andreas Zuber, Petrov and iSport’s Diego Nunes.

Race one: Hulkenberg takes first main-series victory

Hülkenberg took his first GP2 main-series victory in the feature race with a dominant performance at his home circuit, finishing 14 seconds ahead of his closest rivals.

The German made a solid getaway, sliding across the track to cover fellow front-row starter Rodriguez, with di Grassi slotting between the pair as the field arrived at the first corner, and behind them Zuber making a great start to move up two places into fourth place.

While Rodriguez and di Grassi fought it out down the field Hulkenberg built a lead that he retained until the pitstops. First to dive in was Barwa’s Romain Grosjean led a string of cars in when the pits opened but Hulkenberg had enough time in hand that, when his turn came as the last driver to pit, he could still emerge at the front with an eight-second lead.

Second behind him at the chequered flag was Rodriguez followed by Zuber, who claimed his team’s first podium of the season, while Vitaly Petrov held on against race long pressure from Javier Villa to claim fourth. Ocean Racing’s Alvaro Parente was promoted to sixth position following a last-minute hydraulic problem for Grosjean.

Di Grassi slotted in for seventh just ahead of Arden’s Sergio Perez, who claimed the reverse pole for the next day’s sprint race.

Driver penalties from race one

Following race one, penalties were given to Grosjean, Maldonado and Piquet’s Alberto Valerio.

Grosjean and Maldonado each received a five-place grid penalty after being judged to have caused avoidable accidents, Grosjean for his encounter with Filippi on the first lape of the race and Maldonado for his collision with Nunes as he emerged from the pits.

Valerio was handed a three-place penalty as a result of an unsafe release from the pits by his team into the path of Ocean Racing’s Karun Chandhok.

Race two: And Hulkenberg takes the double

A race two victory and a fastest lap added up to pretty much the perfect weekend for Hulkenberg after he produced a dominant display in wet conditions to take the sprint race victory.

The German came home ahead of Parente and DAMS’ Kamui Kobayashi to become the first driver since Nelson Piquet in 2006 to claim all 20 points over a race weekend. Just for good measure, he took the lead in the driver’s championship from Romain Grosjean.

Hulkenberg kept his head at the start as chaos reigned with polesitter Perez slow off the line Petrov hit di Grassi trying to pass him, who then ran into the back of Perez at turn one. He passed Villa at the chicane for the position as Petrov started to attend to his lead, gaining a further two places within two laps.

Hülkenberg was closing in on Petrov when the Russian was given a drive-through penalty for his collision at the start, emerging fourth in the middle of a spirited fight between Parente and Kobayashi. That left Hulkenberg clear to eventually cross the line nearly 27 seconds ahead of his nearest rival.

Parente, who beat Kobayashi onto the podium’s second step. Fourth was Petrov, then Grosjean, Villa and DAMS Jerome d’Ambrosio filling out the points.

It was a disappointing weekend for Grosjean, who lost his championship lead to Hülkenberg on 46 points but managed to cling on to second with 42 points ahead of his teammate Petrov – by just one point.

Standings (points-scorers only listed):

  1. Nicolas Hülkenberg, ART: 46 points
  2. Romain Grosjean, Barwa Addax: 42 points
  3. Vitaly Petrov, Barwa Addax: 41 points
  4. Pastor Maldonado, ART: 26 points
  5. Lucas Di Grassi, Racing Engineering: 26 points
  6. Andreas Zuber, FMS: 20 points
  7. Jérôme d’Ambrosio, DAMS: 18 points
  8. Alberto Valerio, Piquet: 16 points
  9. Luca Filippi, Super Nova: 13 points
  10. Javier Villa, Super Nova: 12 points
  11. Edoardo Mortara, Arden: 10 points
  12. Karun Chandhok, Ocean: 9 points
  13. Alvaro Parente, Ocean: 8 points
  14. Roldan Rodriguez, Piquet: 8 points
  15. Kamui Kobayashi, DAMS: 7 points
  16. Sergio Pérez, Arden: 7 points
  17. Davide Valsecchi, Durango: 6 points
  18. Giedo van der Garde, iSport: 5 points

For a full set of stats and standings, visit the series website here >>

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