ART Grand Prix Qatar races review

ART Grand Prix Qatar races review

17.02.2009: QATAR, GP2 Asia Series – 13th and 14th February 2009 ART Grand Prix and Nico Hülkenberg had a fantastic weekend in Qatar where the German driver dominated the inaugural night event, taking pole, his second consecutive

QATAR, GP2 Asia Series – 13th and 14th February 2009

ART Grand Prix and Nico Hülkenberg had a fantastic weekend in Qatar where the German driver dominated the inaugural night event, taking pole, his second consecutive start from top spot, fastest lap and the victory in Friday’s feature race, becoming the only other driver besides series leader, Kamui Kobayashi, to take the hat trick.

To make it an even better weekend all round for Nico, race two, where he started eighth on the grid and moved to fourth by turn two, resulted in a second podium finish when he crossed the line in third place after a fierce battle with Edoardo Mortara.

However, despite Nico’s maiden win in just two races contested, it wasn’t an easy weekend for the team because as Nico impressed, teammate Sakon Yamamoto was involved in a horrifying accident when he stalled on the grid of race one before being rear ended by another driver.

Thankfully both men were uninjured but the team was forced to stay up all night repairing the damage to ensure his participation in race two. Starting P24 on the grid, the Japanese driver raced to fourteenth place by the time the chequered flag emerged, proving what could have been by clocking the sixth fastest time.

Sakon’s performances should be rewarded by points in the next event, while Nico will step out of the car and allow, Pastor Maldonado, to contest the final two rounds of the Asia series and become accustomed to the team before kicking off the new GP2 main championship.

 
Sakon Yamamoto

Race 1
Position on grid: 6th
Result: DNF   

Race 2
Position on grid: 24th
Result: 14th  

Position in the championship: 11th, 7 points

“The most important thing is that none of the drivers involved in the horrendous car crash were injured. I stalled on the starting grid, this time it was entirely my fault as I just tried to make a good start a bit too hard. I was afraid I would not make the start of the second race but thankfully the mechanics and all the team worked incredibly hard all night long and I am really thankful for this.

Better still, the car was perfectly balanced; they are the best team, no question! Starting from P24 I was always going to have a tough race but I must say it was enjoyable. I overtook cars every 2 or 3 laps and even 2 at the same time in turn 1. I can’t say I’m satisfied by the result and I will do my best to give the team the results it deserves next time in Sepang.”

 

Nico Hülkenberg

Race 1
Position on grid: Pole position
Result: Win   

Race 2
Position on grid: 8th
Result: 3rd   

Position in the championship: 3rd, 27 points

“To do better would have been difficult. When you have the power to convert a pole position in victory, the feeling is just amazing. Things were not easy though because my radio was not working properly and I could not clearly hear what the team was telling me. But the strategy was awesome and that’s down to the team and my tyre wear management. I pushed hard when I needed to and came out of the pits in front.

 First win in my second GP2 meeting, the feeling is good. It was difficult in race 2 because there was more dust and sand on the track and I struggled with my left front tyre when I was behind Mortara. I did not want to overuse it so I could keep my chances alive and when I get through, the Campos drivers were too far away. I am satisfied with my results in the GP2 Series because I did what was expected from me and it gives me confidence for the Main Series.”

 

Frédéric Vasseur :
“With 17 points we’re close to perfection and it is motivating for ART Grand Prix to secure its first win of the year. Nico was perfect with a hat trick and 2 pole positions in 2 races while still a rookie in the championship. We did not get it right in terms of tyre wear in Bahrain but we were very good in Qatar on a dirty and slippery track.

It was not easy to overtake in Losail, yet Nico offered us another podium on Saturday. Race 2 could have been different had he overtaken Mortara on the second lap, but we can’t have any regrets. The fact that Nico is 3rd in the championship, just 2 points shy of second, shows how big his talent really is.”

 
Sandrine FOIX- photos GP2

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17.02.2009 / MaP

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