Racing Engineering driver Giorgio Pantano will go into the Hockenheim GP2 race as the most successful driver in the series’ history – but he’ll still have to fight for a championship win.
There’s now an 11-point gap between him and the second-placed Bruno Senna who is in turn 14 points ahead of Red Bull F1 tester Sebastien Buemi.
And returning driver Lucas di Grassi has scored an impressive 24 points, including three second places, in only two rounds. Romain Grosjean is a point behind him in fifth place.
Grosjean was the leader in the morning free practice session ahead of Kamui Kobayashi and Giorgio Pantano.
It took place on a drying track after an earlier shower, with Grosjean’s best time of 1:22.782 putting him just 0.067 ahead of the Japanese driver. Series leader Pantano was a further three-tenths behind.
British driver Mike Conway put his car into the wall as he entered the complex on his first flying lap. Most of the field spun or ran wide at some stage during the session, including all of the top three.
Sakon Yamamoto, returning to GP2 after a stint as a Formula One back-marker, stopped at the end of the pitlane late in the session, holding up teammate Grosjean until he was pushed out of the way.
Despite difficult conditions 11 drivers were within a second of the top lap, promising an exciting qualifiying session later in the day.
Returning to the drivers’ standings Vitaly Petrov, Alvaro Parente, Karun Chandhok, Andreas Zuber and Pastor Maldonado complete the Top 10 – separated by only two points.
The series organisers are expecting an exciting German championship stage: “Often criticised because of its remote location, the Hockenheim circuit itself can produce some fierce racing as drivers play chicken with their braking points on the way into the hairpin at the end of the long, quick parabolica.
“But, as well as good straight-line speed, the numerous slow and medium corners demand a balanced setup.”
* If you’re a fan of GP2 then don’t forget that the latest edition of the free e-zine is available on the series website. View it here >>
Featuring predictions from 2005 GP2 champion Nico Rosberg, frontrunner Giorgio Pantano’s thoughts on his season so far, the series team principals on the latest test and the latest from the GP2 paddock.
It promises “news of Mike Conway’s post-race celebrations in Monaco and where to get your hands on a Karun Chandhok curryâ€¦” Never mind that. What we really want to read about is the recipe for Pasta Maldonado :- ))