Important Points From GP2’s Opening Weekend
The GP2 Series completed its first weekend of the season at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, bringing interesting results. Passing was difficult at the track, as evident by some fairly quiet races. Despite the inability to pass with ease, drivers thrilled fans some with daring moves on track.
Prema Racing’s Pierre Gasly took the Drivers’ Championship lead in a fantastic week for anyone connected to Red Bull. With Max Verstappen winning his first F1 grand prix, Daniel Ricciardo finishing fourth despite a puncture, and Carlos Sainz finishing sixth, it has been a good weekend.
The Frenchman took pole position and finished third in the feature race. Gasly finished second in sprint race from sixth on the grid with a fastest lap. It is only the second time in his GP2 career that he has taken back-to-back podiums, the first time he has done this in one weekend and his seventh consecutive points finish since last year’s feature race in Russia. Consistency like this will be a vital commodity in a quest to win the title this year.
With 33 points, he leads the championship by six points, with Racing Engineering’s Norman Nato in second and DAMS’ Alex Lynn third.
Lynn took his first victory of 2016 in the sprint race from third on the grid to advance his desire to win the championship. It was a fitting time to do so with some of his rivals slipping up – feature race winner Norman Nato only managing 16th and Sergey Sirotkin again failing to score points, finishing in 11th after starting 23rd.
It was a hard weekend for Sirotkin’s ART Grand Prix after his spin in the first race cost him the chance of a podium finish. This is a tough situation for the team, who claimed only one point from Nobuharu Matsushita’s eighth-place finish in the sprint race. The reigning champions are already 42 points behind DAMS in the Teams’ Championship. This leaves the Russian needing to catch up to his rivals in the next round.
Gasly’s teammate Antonio Giovinazzi was another driver with a frustrating weekend. After colliding with Raffaele Marciello in the feature race and being given a penalty which demoted him from ninth to 18th in the classification, he had a massive collision into the barriers at Turn 10 in the sprint race when the front of his car became airborne in an incident with Campos Racing’s Sean Gelael. The drivers collided and Giovinazzi’s car couldn’t slow down enough in time before it collected the rear of Arthur Pic’s Rapax car as he attempted to turn the corner before violently hitting the barriers. The driver was unhurt after such an accident.
However, with the front right tire coming off and away from his car it is one of the first showings this year of the potential need for cockpit protection, and despite the conversation about it having been debated in Formula One potentially for 2017 or a future year, it should be a reminder of the need to make a solution simple and cost-effective enough to also be used in junior formulae for safety and to match the specification and view they would have of the Formula One cars they may be required to drive if graduating from the series.
The next round of the GP2 Series takes place at the legendary Circuit de Monaco in two weeks.
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