Highs And Lows After GP2’s First Race
The 2016 GP2 season kicked off in Barcelona Saturday, and like any season opener, some drivers left happy, while others were left disappointed.
Norman Nato won the race to claim his first-ever GP2 win after a superb overtaking move on Prema Racing’s Pierre Gasly after 26 laps.
With the results of this race determining the starting positions for the sprint race, the grid looks interesting. The top eight will reverse, with classified eighth-place finisher Raffaele Marciello starting from pole ahead of Jordan King, Alex Lynn and Sergio Canamasas. Due to the retirements of Sergey Sirotkin and Luca Ghiotto, these two drivers will have work to find a good result the hard way from the last row of the grid.
One of the best, if not the best, performance came from Canamasas, who moved from 15th on the grid — albeit only one second behind third-place Alex Lynn in qualifying — to fifth place in the final results.
The Spanish driver has only been confirmed to race for the team since Thursday, but made some great moves, passing Gustav Malja around the outside to claim P7 at one point, en route to his first ever points finish. This means that Canamasas will start on the second row of the grid in the sprint race and seems to have the pace this weekend for a potentially good second result.
However, there were some disappointing lows for some other drivers in the field.
Despite having both cars in the top eight in qualifying, ART Grand Prix, the reigning champions, failed to finish in the points with either car. Sergey Sirotkin spun after 23 laps when battling Norman Nato for position, causing a caution period. Nobuharu Matsushita was unable to get into the points following a three-place grid penalty in qualifying.
Trident was another team without a points finish, with Luca Ghiotto and Philo Paz Armand retiring from the race. Ghiotto qualified in tenth in his first GP2 race since moving up from the GP3 ranks. He was moved up to ninth thanks to Matsushita’s penalty, but was unable to back that up in the race.
Contact with Rapax’s Arthur Pic on the opening lap punctured the Italian’s left-rear tire. He wound up in the gravel trap, causing a full-course caution.
This means Sirotkin will have to start the sprint race from 22nd and Ghiotto will start at the back of the grid, very much out of position, but gives an opportunity for more overtaking if these two drivers want to get into the points in the second race.
Sirotkin has never finished in the points at Barcelona, finishing 16th and 10th in last year’s feature and sprint races. Ghiotto had some success last year in Spain, finishing second and eighth in GP3. The Trident duo will be two to watch when the lights go green.
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