Romain Grosjean (Barwa Campos Team) and Edoardo Mortara (Telmex Arden International) both took race wins on Bridgestones medium compound tyre in the opening round of the Bridgestone-supported GP2 Series at the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona, Spain. Bridgestones medium compound Potenza GP2 racing slick made its first ever appearance at the Barcelona circuit, as previously the hard compound has been used at this event. Due to the change in compound allocation, competitors had a greater tyre management challenge than in previous seasons. The emphasis in 2009 is on the drivers learning and understanding the capabilities of the softer GP2 tyres and adapting to maximise the performance of the Bridgestone compounds. In Saturdays 39 lap feature race Grosjean dominated, taking full points for the race win, pole position and fastest lap. Barwa Campos teammate Vitaly Petrov finished in second, with Jerome dAmbrosio (DAMS) completing the podium line-up. The majority of drivers changed only their rear tyres, a typical strategy for Barcelona to reduce the effects of degradation. Mortara, Grosjean and dAmbrosio finished top in Sundays 26 lap sprint race, all teams having started on the mandatory new set of tyres for race two. Mortara also claimed a point for fastest lap. Leaving Barcelona, Grosjean leads the drivers championship on 18 points from Mortara and dAmbrosio both on 10. Barwa Campos Team leads the teams championship with 26 points from DAMS on 13. Telmex Arden International is in third position with 10 points. The next round of the 2009 GP2 Series season will be held on the streets of Monte Carlo where Bridgestones super soft compound will be used. Quote from Hiroshi Yasukawa Director of Bridgestone Motorsport Congratulations to Romain Grosjean and Edoardo Mortara for their race wins. Bridgestone is proud to support the GP2 Series in its fifth season, and it is great to see 26 drivers battling on circuit, showing their talent for potential futures in Formula One. Spain is a very important market for Bridgestone so having three Spanish drivers and two Spanish teams in this fantastic championship is great for us. Quote from Hirohide Hamashima – Director of Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development The degradation of the Bridgestone GP2 medium compound tyre was on target with the organisers requirements this weekend. The GP2 Series organisers wish to educate the drivers and teams in terms of their tyre management and strategy. This weekend the drivers needed to manage their tyres well as the allocation was one step softer than last year. Grosjean was strong in race one and his car setup assisted his tyre usage. Congratulations to Mortara in race two for his first GP2 victory. Degradation was much less than yesterday, due to track improvement, and this could be a good indicator for todays Formula One race also.
The Bridgestone-supported GP2 Series will start its exciting fifth season when 13 teams and 26 drivers from around the world line up on the grid with Bridgestones medium compound GP2 Series slick tyre in the first round of the ten round championship, as part of the Spanish Grand Prix on May 8-10. Bridgestone tyres are once more the official tyre for the GP2 Series as they have been since the Series began. Just like last season, the GP2 Series tyres will be produced at Bridgestones Technical Centre in Rome. In 2008 the hard compound tyre was used in Barcelona, however Bridgestones tyre allocations for 2009 are generally one step softer, so in Barcelona the medium compound will be used. All competitors will have to work hard to find the best set-up to harness the potential of Bridgestones tyres at the 4.66 km Circuit de Catalunya, located 20km to the north east of Barcelona. The circuit gives tyres a thorough workout. High loads are experienced, particularly in turn three, and those tyres on the left hand side of the car are put under a lot of stress. Bridgestone brings an average of 760 tyres to each round, and these include both wet and dry weather Potenza tyres. In 2008, Alvaro Parente (Super Nova Racing) and Kamui Kobayashi (DAMS) both took race wins in Barcelona. Both drivers return to GP2 for this season, Kobayashi remaining with DAMS, with whom he has just won the GP2 Asia Series championship whilst Parente is now racing with Ocean Racing Technology. Quote from Hirohide Hamashima – Director of Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Barcelona is quite a severe circuit so it will be a challenge for competitors to use a softer tyre than has been used here previously. Braking stability is important in Barcelona and it is very important to get a good car balance in the slow speed corners. This weekend will be a challenge for teams and drivers alike and I expect we will see some exciting racing as 26 drivers try to stake their claim on an F1 drive for next year.
Kamui Kobayashi (Dams) and Sergio Perez (Barwa International Campos Team) both took race wins this week in the third round of the Bridgestone-supported GP2 Asia Series at the Bahrain International Circuit. First to impress though was rookie Nico Hulkenburg (ART Grand Prix) after qualifying for Friday’s race in pole position with a time of 1min 41.351secs. The time was 0.125 seconds faster than Jerome D’Ambrosio (Dams), who was second fastest. Kobayashi made it two Dams drivers in the top three. Bridgestone’s medium compound GP2 Series slick tyre was used in Bahrain, with Japan’s Kobayashi using it to perfection in the 34-lap Feature Race to jump up to second place after D’Ambrosio was slow off the mark at the start. After some hard fighting and intense pressure, Kobayashi took the lead on lap 14. Hulkenburg meanwhile was the first of the front runners to pit on lap 17, changing his rear tyres. He paid the penalty though for a long stop and dropped vital time and places. Kobayashi didn’t stop until lap 20 and unlike his main competitors he changed his two left side tyres, a tactic used previously in Dubai. He retained the lead and with Hulkenburg now in fourth it was teammate D’Ambrosio and rookie Edoardo Mortara (Arden International) who were second and third respectively. Despite renewed efforts from Hulkenburg, the top three remained unchanged as they crossed the line, giving Dams a pleasing 1-2. An extra point also went to the race winner Kobayashi for setting the fastest lap with a time of 1min 43.604 on lap 23. Saturday’s reverse grid Sprint Race saw Mexican driver Perez win from pole, after leading for all 23 laps. It was his first GP2 Asia Series win. Davide Valsecchi (Durango) finished second with the two front runners retaining their opening lap positions all the way to the finish. D’Ambrosio took third position after an impressive performance which saw him climb through the field. Diego Nunes (Piquet GP) set the race’s fastest lap, a 1min 43.913secs, on lap 5. Leaving Bahrain, Kobayashi leads the drivers’ championship on 34 points from Valsecchi on 24. Roldan Rodriguez is in third on 22 points. Dams leads the teams’ championship with 51 points from Durango on 24. Piquet GP is third on 22 points. The next round of the GP2 Asia Series is scheduled for February 13-14 at the Losail Circuit in Qatar. Quote from Kentaro Yamamoto – Bridgestone Motorsport GP2 Series Engineer “After using the hard specification GP2 slick tyre at this track last year we decided to go a step softer to the medium compound and we are pleased to see that it has performed well. Although the cars were not running with Formula One the track was clean from the start, resulting in faster laps times than expected and, combined with the medium tyre, a faster qualifying time was set this year by 1.3 seconds. The drivers did not have it easy though. They had rear tyre degradation and a higher wear rate and so had to manage their tyres and drive skilfully in both races. We’re very pleased that by changing to the medium compound slick tyre that we have contributed to two very exciting races here this week.”