GP2 preview Imola
Final round of the fourth season takes place this weekend at Autodromo Dino e Enzo Ferrari
The 2011 GP2 Asia Series resumes this week for Round 2 at Autodromo Dino e Enzo Ferrari in Imola, Italy. In light of the current events happening in Bahrain and the decision from Bahrain Motorsport Federation to cancel the two remaining meetings in this season, GP2 organisers’ priority was to add another venue to the calendar and chose Imola to host the final round of the fourth season.
The demanding 4.909km track was recently modified with the Variante Bassa chicane removed, making the run from Rivazza to the first Tamburello chicane totally flat-out. The last time a GP2 car raced on this circuit was in 2006, with the first generation car. This weekend, the GP2/11 on Pirelli tyres will help one of the twenty-six drivers to be crowned GP2 Asia Series fourth Champion.
Following an eventful opener in Abu Dhabi last February, Lotus ART’s Jules Bianchi arrives as the Series’ leader two points ahead of fellow countryman Romain Grosjean at Dams. The two French drivers provided a good show at Yas Marina Circuit, with Grosjean snatching pole position and Bianchi beating him at the lights in Race 1. Reigning GP2 Asia Series Champion Davide Valsecchi also remains a contender to this season’s crown: scoring a podium finish for his new team Team AirAsia, the Italian ace has shown good pace and consistency from the word go. The Sprint race saw GP3 Series graduate Stefano Coletti taking a superb lights to flag first GP2 win ahead of Josef Kral and Marcus Ericsson.
In the teams’ standings, Lotus ART leads iSport International and Dams. The British squad and reigning Champions iSport could have been leading the Series after the Abu Dhabi Sprint Race had Sam Bird kept his podium finish, but in the final laps, he unfortunately lost control of his car and had to retire before the chequered flag. However, his pace and experience puts him on the men-to-beat list this week in Bahrain, along with teammate Marcus Ericsson, Coletti and Kral at Arden.
A word from Pirelli’s Racing Manager Mario Isola: ” Imola is a very interesting track that is highly technical and incredibly demanding, with several heavy braking zones and limited opportunities for the rubber to cool down. In these conditions we need to give drivers tyres that are very durable but do not in any way compromise safety and road holding. This is why we decided to opt for our medium compound slicks, which cope well with the demands of the track as well as its unpredictable weather conditions. Our medium compound GP2 rubber has shown itself to have a very good balance between durability and artificial degradation. This was the case at Abu Dhabi earlier this year and I’m sure it will be the same at Imola.”
Friday 18th March
10.00 – 10.30 Practice 1
11.00 – 11.30 Practice 2
15.30 – 16.00 Qualifying
Saturday 19th March
14.00 Feature Race
Sunday 20th March
14.00 Sprint Race