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".
Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Managing Director: "We feel we must really praise the great job done by Chris Van der Drift Today. He took 7th place, showing an impressive race vision, as well as a consistent and fast pace and a great maturity in managing the Safety-Car periods. It wasn't supposed to be easy for a rookie to resist the attacks of two talented and experienced drivers like Filippi and Valsecchi, but Chris managed to control both of them, pulling away since the re-start in both occasions. Our car was missing something on a performance point of view compared to the ones of the main front runners, but I'm glad Chris was able to capitalize and take the best possible result. It was a good reward for the choice, made by the team and me, to invest in our toughest 2008 International Formula Master rival. Giacomo Ricci ended a tough race by showing a great pace too. He was able to recover well, after losing the chances to fight for a points finish at the start. Giacomo did a very consistent job with the team, and I think he's heading to a steady progress in tomorrow's Race 2. Trident Racing also shown a good organizational level, catching the right strategy and providing drivers with two fast pit-stops: today's strong work is just the pinnacle of a longtime planning. I hope the team will be enabled to continue at same level in the next future".
Durango - Davide Valsecchi (8th) Carlos Iaconelli (11th)
Race 1 at Shanghai quite positive for Durango. Davide Valsecchi, eight at the finish line, claimed the first point but above all the pole position for tomorrow race while Carlos Iaconelli recovered ten positions finishing eleventh.
So Ivone Pinton could comment: "We brought home the first point which is already something good. Then Davide showed his determination dueling with Zuber which I much liked. Carlos made a nice recovery demonstrating to deserve the compliment I made him yesterday and tomorrow we will start from the pole… So today there is really no reason to complain!"
GFH Team iSport - Giedo van der Garde (10th) Harman Al Fardan (15th)
iSport drivers Giedo van der Garde and Harman Al Fardan finished 10th and 15th as the GP2 Asia Series began on a fairly chaotic note at the Shanghai International Circuit, China. The 34-lap race was twice interrupted by the Safety Car and darkness was looming by the time the chequered flag fell. From fifth on the grid, Dutchman van der Garde lost a couple of places after a slow start and then struggled to show his true potential because a short top gear made him easy prey on the circuit's ultra-long back straight.
Al Fardan lost a few seconds during his tyre stop, and was also delayed by a spin, but both drivers accumulated valuable mileage as they began getting to grips with one of the world's most closely fought categories.
Giedo van der Garde: "It was a pity that I lost a few places on the opening lap, but overall I was quite happy with my pace – especially in the
first two sectors. The car felt really good through there, but unfortunately we were running too short a sixth gear and I kept hitting the rev limiter down the long straight. Other drivers were able to get past me quite easily, but I was unable to pass them even when I picked up a slipstream. Obviously the result could have been a bit better, but the lessons I've learned today will be put into practice tomorrow."
Hamad Al Farman: "I want to obtain some good results in this series, obviously, but those will come with experience. I lost a bit of time during my mandatory tyre stop, because a wheel nit jammed, and then I spun on cold tyres shortly after I had rejoined. The encouraging thing was that I had a reasonable race pace – and that gives me a good platform on which to build in future races, beginning with tomorrow morning's sprint event."
DPR - Michael Herck (16th) Yuhi Sekiguchi (19th)
The GP2 Asia Series made its second season debut in Shanghai, China today with the first of the two races of the weekend thrilling the crowd at this Formula One Grand Prix supporting event. David Price Racing (DPR) made their first start this afternoon in the Feature race, with the team's regular driver Michael Herck being joined by Japanese driver Yuhi Sekiguchi for this weekend. After 34 laps of hard racing at this state-of-the-art racing facility Herck finished in 16th place, with Sekiguchi unfortunately being spun into retirement by a race rival.
Both drivers had their first opportunity to experience the Shanghai circuit in official GP2 Asia Series testing last week. They returned to the track for the practice and qualifying sessions took place yesterday and after highly competitive sessions Sekiguchi had posted 17th quickest lap to start in this position for today's race with Herck immediately behind him on the grid in 19th place.
The grid made a clean getaway at the start with the field of cars snaking through the curling first sequence of corners, and shuffling position. By the end of the long lap it was Herck who had made the best start of the two DPR drivers, improving to 18th, while Sekiguchi dropped to 20th on the opener, then back to 23rd. The Japanese driver then recovered positions to lie in 20th after five laps, just behind team mate Herck in 19th.
The field began its first round of pitstops as soon as the pit window opened, with Herck opting to take an early stop and Sekiguchi remaining on track a little longer. After 11 laps of racing a stricken car in a dangerous position forced the deployment of the safety car. Some teams used this as an opportunity to make their pitstops, and by the time the safety car had left the track for the field to resume racing there were a number of winners and losers. Both DPR cars benefited from this period with Sekiguchi improving to 14th place and Herck to 16th position.
The restart, with 19 laps of racing remaining, saw all the cars return to full speed with the two yellow and blue DPR cars maintaining position. Unfortunately Herck was given a drive through penalty for a racing infringement which put him to the back of the field and he had a tough challenge to make up ground. Meanwhile Sekiguchi was improving his position, lying in12th place after 20 laps of running. The Japanese driver then took 11th place after the driver ahead ran wide, but a few corners later he was spun off the track by Filippi, which sadly ended his race. With the cars of Sekiguchi and Filippi stranded at the side of the track a second safety car period closed up the field. With six laps remaining racing resumed Herck was lying in 16th place and he crossed the finish line in this position.
David Price, Team Principal, said of the team's performance in the opening race, "We had strong runs with both cars today, but we didn't have the results to reflect this. Yuhi was looking good for a top ten finish or close to it, but he wasn't given the opportunity to reach the chequered flag. Michael's drive through penalty put him to the back and then left him with little opportunity to make the top ten. The positive we take away is the pace that we had, we just need to turn this in to results now."