Bridgestone Motorsports GP2 Series Report
Romain Grosjean (ART Grand Prix) and Pastor Maldonado (Piquet Sports) both took race wins in the ninth round of the Bridgestone-supported GP2 Series at the undulating Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium.
Frenchman Grosjean started from third on the grid to secure his first feature race win in the European GP2 Series. Maldonado claimed victory in the sprint race overtaking Jerome DAmbrosio (DAMS) on the last lap.
Bridgestones medium compound Potenza GP2 racing slick and wet specification tyre were used at the challenging circuit located in the Ardennes hills. High speeds combined with high downforce levels meant the tyres were under heavy loads for the majority of the 7km lap.
In Saturdays 26 lap race all drivers started on wet tyres under the safety car, changing to slicks from lap six as the rain stopped. Pole sitter Bruno Senna (iSport International) was leading until his tyre change when he picked up a drive through penalty for pulling out on Alberto Valerio (Durango) in the pit lane. The safety car was then deployed for a second stint after Davide Valsecchi (Durango) crashed out. Race winner Grosjean passed Alvaro Parente (Super Nova) on lap 20 to win, also setting the fastest time on the last lap. Parente finished second with Maldonado being awarded third place. Giorgio Pantano (Racing Engineering) was excluded from both races after a collision with Lucas di Grassi (Campos).
Sundays 18 lap sprint race provided close racing and DAmbrosio with the chance to lead his home race for 17 laps, having started on pole. Mike Conway (Trident) and Andy Soucek (Super Nova) both spun out, Maldonado fighting his way up from sixth to win and take the point for fastest lap. DAmbrosio finished second, Vitaly Petrov (Campos) third. 24 out of the 25 drivers on the grid started on Bridgestones slick tyre.
Leaving Spa, Pantano leads the drivers championship on 71 points from Senna on 60. Di Grassi is in third on 53 points, the same points score as Grosjean. Campos leads the teams championship with 93 points from iSport on 91. Piquet Sports is on 80. The season finale will be held at the high speed Monza race circuit in Italy where Bridgestones medium compound will be used for the seventh time in the series.
Quote from Hirohide Hamashima – Director of Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development
We were pleased to learn after race one that Davide Valsecchi was okay after his accident. The life of the wet tyre was a bit shorter than expected in the feature race because, typically at Spa, some parts of the circuit were very wet and some parts were nearly dry hence the higher than anticipated wear rate. When teams changed to slicks the Bridgestones performed very well considering the changing weather conditions. In race two the track surface varied greatly due to the weather and those drivers who finished did well to focus. We saw how easy it was to lose concentration as there were many incidents. In this race no points were scored from the top two drivers in the championship which makes it interesting for Monza.