MY Qi-Meritus.Mahara - Earl Bamber (6th) Alex Yoong (14th)
Malaysian Alex Yoong and New Zealand rookie Earl Bamber went on the attack for Malaysian-based MY Qi-Meritus.Mahara and finished the 34 long lap hard first race of the season respectively in 6th place for New Zealander rookie driver Earl Bamber and 13th place for Malaysian F1 ex-driver Alex Yoong this weekend in Shanghai, the first race of the GP2 Asia coinciding with the penultimate F1 race of the year.
A hard first race troubled by two safety car periods. Earl Bamber is the best placed rookie with no previous experience in GP2 Asia nor ground effect car. Tomorrow as the grid in GP2 Asia is reveresed, Earl will start P3 for the Sunday feature race Alex Yoong also had an excellent and strong race. He took also a good start from the back in 23rd place after a difficult qualifiyng session and finished a promissing 14th.
Rookie Earl Bamber had a strong start and came from 9th to a sixth dominant position in the race and explained: "I had an interesting start and found myself a bit in a sandwich between two experienced drivers, Valesechhi and Filippi. I lost one position and gained again in the first corner after going wide. I was fighting with Petrov. That put me back very soon in sixth place behind strong drivers. I was able to keep behind me Jerome d'Ambrosio that I had passed at the start. I was maintaining the pace, lapping in 1.48.952 and later in 1.48.788. We had decided as part of the team's strategy not to complete our pitstop in the first laps of the race. We waited till the safety car was deployed. My pitstop went rather smooth but because of the safety car I gained nothing and lost nothing. I rejoined as the safety car was still controlling the race before the tenth lap. As part of my first experience driving under a safety car, I found it hard to keep the temperature pm the tires during the five laps that the safety car controlled the race.
"The safety car came out another time nine laps before the end and the same problem with cooling tires too quickly was a worry. The safety car came back in seven laps before the end and we were very close together. Overall my first race in GP2 Asia was really good fun. I had a good pitstop and do not feel tired although it was one of my longest races ever."
Alex Yoong: "I arrived at Shanghai very motivated. Of course, I was disappointed with my qualifying result. But I did a good race. I am much happier with the car. My race worked well in the second half of the race as the brake balance was in correct position. Now, I feel that with the team I can bring the car in the right direction. I suppose I was also a bit rusted. I was progressing all the time: 17th on lap 8th.I completed my pitstop on lap 10. I was ranking 12th just ahead of the safety car that was deployed as Sergio Perez's car had spun and stalled in the middle of the track. I was pushing hard, then came to 19th position and on lap 20, I was in 15th place, then I was 13th on lap 25 and finally finished in 14th. A good fight."
Peter Thompson, team founder: "With Earl Bamber, MY Qi-Meritus.Mahara achieved its goal in qualifying. It was hard to achieve because Earl did his times when there were only two laps left. A pity we did not achieve the same with Alex. He had a problem with the gearbox after the first red flag and it took us the rest of the session to fix it.
"I am very pleased with the achievement of the team. A fantastic start for Earl and Brilliant race from the top rookie scoring his first GP2 Asia points. A strong race from Alex Yoong who needed to get back to a real strong and long 34 lap race. We are happy to have brought both cars home despite all the fighting in the field.. We'll possibly be even better in race 2 than race 1 this weekend."
Firhat Yuri Bin Dato Mokhzani, Team Director commented: "No need to say anything. From 9th Earl fell back to 12th and then ran outside to maintain 6th for the entire race. A strong show from our rookie. Well done and see what tomorrow's race 2 brings."
Trident Racing - Chris Van der Drift (7th) Giacomo Ricci (13th)
After the bad luck suffered in yesterday's qualifications, relegating Chris Van der Drift and Giacomo Ricci in the second half of Race 1's grid, Trident Racing experienced a good recovery. Van der Drift clinched the points zone, entering the top-10 and ending up in 7th, while Ricci overcame an early technical issue by taking 13th place after finding himself at the back of the pack. Thanks to the reverse grid for the top-8 drivers, Van der Drift will be taking off from the 2nd spot, while Ricci will be starting from row 7. As Trident Racing managed to solve the problems reported by drivers during qualifying, all the team is expecting a positive ending for the first round of the GP2 Asia Series at Shanghai.
Chris Van der Drift: "I'm really glad for today's result: I ended a tough race in a very profitable manner and without making mistakes. After the team solved the problem we had in qualifying, I finally had the chance to use the 100% of my potential as well as the car's. I believe we have still some work to do to catch the top-running drivers, but I'm really looking forward to it. The pit-stop was really fast and well-scheduled: when I came back on-track I just kept my position. We'll count on a really good starting spot for tomorrow's Race 2".
Giacomo Ricci: "A few moments before the start, the water overheating alarm popped out, and the engine's revs dropped down shortly after. I was able to take off, but I was dead last with a huge gap. I improved my performance lap by lap, making my way up the order and ending the day with a 13th place finish. It felt bad because without that issue, 8th place could have definitely been in our frame, with the resulting pole spot for tomorrow's Race 2. Our starting spot for Race 2 is not bad though, and I hope to put together a good performance".