ART Grand Prix - Luca Filippi (3rd) Romain Grosjean (DNF)
ART Grand Prix left the Magny Cours circuit in France this weekend with one podium finish, a tenth place and two retirements. After setting the track alight in Friday practice, local hero Romain Grosjean qualified in second place behind Bruno Senna, however, both races failed to yield the expected results for the Frenchman. After a strong run and an early pitstop, Grosjean was looking good for the win in race one, embroiled in an intense battle with Giorgio Pantano until he suffered with an hydraulic gremlin which allowed Pantano through for the win. Starting from the back in a wet race two, Grosjean changed to slicks but unfortunately ended up in the gravel trap after pushing hard in an attempt to enter the top 6.
For teammate Luca Filippi, who qualified eleventh, a tenth place finish in race one was disappointing, however he came through in the chaotic wet race two to take a brilliant third place and give the team some very valuable world championship points.
Luca Filippi: Qualifying and race one did not go that well. I don't have a lot of confidence with the car the way it is set-up and I can't push hard in the fast curves. We were fast at the end of race 1 but together with the team we have to figure out how to be better placed on the starting grid. We have to keep working hard to be more efficient in the fast curves because it will be crucial at Silverstone.
We made the right decision on Sunday. The ten first laps were tricky with slick tyres on a damp track but I stayed calm because I knew my time would come later. I didn't make any mistakes and I waited for the latter stages to push hard. I was the fastest man on track at that time and the podium was a good reward for everybody's work in the team. This result is very good motivation. It was essential to show the engineers and mechanics that I can deliver and do a pretty good job.
Romain Grosjean: Even though the results are extremely disappointing, we have to look at all the positive aspects of the weekend. Our performance level was excellent. It proved that we worked in the right direction at the Castellet circuit and that we made a step forward. The first row was my best qualifying result so far and our strategy was very good too because it allowed me to close the gap with Senna and overtake him. Everything was just perfect and the win was in my grasp until the hydraulic pump ruined all our work. The next day we decided to start on rain tyres thinking another shower would come. But, this was not the case and we changed our tyres to wets. I was the first one to do so but I think the timing was right. I had no choice but to attack to the maximum if I wanted to have a chance of scoring some points.
Frédéric Vasseur: There is nothing to say against ART Grand Prix in Magny-Cours. The team was en route to win on its home soil. Our level of performance and strategies were the best of the weekend and it's a shame that an incident we had nothing to do with prevented us from getting the laurels we deserved. On another note, the positive thing is Luca's first podium. His competitiveness was rewarded at last and I hope he will never look back because we will need our best assets for the rest of the championship as we can't afford to make even the smallest mistake.
iSport International - Bruno Senna (5th) Karun Chandhok (DNF)
Bruno Senna took his iSport Dallara to fifth place in the GP2 Series sprint at Magny-Cours - an excellent result from 23rd place on the grid, but disappointing in view of the technical problems that stifled his charge.
Denied a likely victory in Saturday's feature event, when his clutch failed, the Brazilian today opted for slick tyres on a damp track and stormed through the field as conditions improved. He was set for a strong third place when a gear selector problem slowed his progress and dropped him to fifth. He remains second in the championship, seven points behind Italian Giorgio Pantano (Racing Engineering).
Karun Chandhok struggled to get away cleanly from the front row of the grid and slipped to ninth after a first-lap spin. After changing to dry tyres, he was making his way back through the field when he was caught up in a chain-reaction accident that prompted his retirement.
Bruno Senna: "I could feel that grip was beginning to improve on my final reconnaissance lap, so I thought we could be in good shape. I took things very gently at first and gained a few places as others made mistakes. It didn't take too long before dry tyres came into their own and after that I made rapid progress. It was difficult, but I'm usually very quick in tricky conditions and once the race settled down I was fairly confident that a podium finish was achievable. Unfortunately, the gear selector then began to play up and I also lost full throttle. Fifth is obviously a good result, because I started a long way back, but it is also frustrating because a podium result was within my grasp and I lost it for reasons beyond my control."
Karun Chandhok: "I bogged down at the start and dropped to fourth almost immediately, which wasn't great, then I spun when I caught the white line at the track's edge. That put me back to ninth. I started on wets because that's what everybody else at the front chose to do - I was just covering myself against them, although that obviously turned out to be the wrong call. As soon as Bruno started setting fastest sector times, I dived in for dries and started to make my way up through the field. Unfortunately, I arrived at one of the chicanes at the back of a group of cars and the guy at the front was unbelievably slow. Everyone started diving left and right to miss him - and each other - but unfortunately I ran into the back of Giorgio Pantano. I apologised to him, but he was fine about it. He almost crashed into one of the other cars, too, so he understood exactly what had happened."