Teams competing in the GP2 series have converged on the Paul Ricard circuit at Le Castellet, in southern France, for the last test session until the end of the 2008 season and the run-in to the championship’s French round.
They concentrated on testing improvements to the standardised car before using the circuit configuration that allowed them to prepare for races coming up later in the season.
Didier Perrin, GP2 technical director, said: “We have tested four different engine-gearbox strategy upgrades on four different cars.
“As we are very satisfied with the results we will try them on a larger number of cars this afternoon in order to obtain this evening a common strategy which we will validate on all cars tomorrow.”
Adrian Valles of BCN Competicion was unable to attend as he was at the 24 Hours of Le Mans event while Davide Valsecchi of Durango is still injured following an accident in Istanbul.
On day one a trouble-free test included 13 teams fielding 24 cars. In the morning session Piquet’s Pastor Maldonado was fastest with a time of 1:13.291, closely followed by iSport’s Bruno Senna. Maldonado’s team-mate Andreas Zuber, Racing Engineering’s Javier Villa and iSport’s Karun Chandhok completed the top five.
In the afternoon Villa set a fastest lap time of 1:13.037 just ahead of teammate and championship leader Giorgio Pantano, also of Racing Engineering.
Right at the end of the session Campos’ Lucas di Grassi posted a time under 1:13.000 but it was cancelled after it was proven that he had cut the chicane. The top twelve cars all posted times within one second.
Despite having set the morning’s pace Maldonado ended up in third place, ahead of ART’s Luca Filippi.
The iSport drivers Chandhok and Senna finished fifth and sixth with Grosjean, Zuber, d’Ambrosio and di Grassi completing the top ten.
On day two the teams dedicated their morning to preparation for the Spa-Francorchamps and Monza rounds of the championship.
Filippi was the quickest with a time of 1:09.934 but was closely followed by teammate Grosjean on 1:10.060.
Campos drivers Vitali Petrov and di Grassi were third and fourth with Zuber completing the top five
iSport experienced problems with Chandhok crashing into Arden’s Sebastien Buemi one hour before the end of the session, and with an oil leak problem for Senna.
In the afternoon Senna set the pace just ahead of Filippi. The Italian driver remainsed the quickest of the day with his morning lap time of 1:09.934. Behind them were Pantano, Grosjean and Zuber.
GP2 now heads off to Magny-Cours for the fourth round of the 2008 championship. Bruno Senna and Giorgio Pantano are currently co-leading with 24 points apiece, ahead of Romain Grosjean and Alvaro Parente, both with 19 points.