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GP Week : Issue 3
11 F1 NEWS >> THE GP2 Asia Series was hit by allegations of “special treatment” for the championship’s stand out rookie Romain Grosjean at the series’ third round in Malaysia, after the Frenchman set a pole lap almost three quarters of a second faster than his nearest rival. German website www. adrivo.com ran an article on Friday entitled “Seven Tenths Arouse Questions,” in which the author quoted leading series protagonists including championship contender Bruno Senna as believing that something was amiss with Grosjean’s ART Grand Prix car. This issue came to a head when the stewards investigated Grosjean’s car, along with those of Karun Chandhok, Ben Hanley and Jason Tahinci, under suspicion that they had run in qualifying without the rear wing spacer, which is a compulsory part of all cars in the spec-series. The stewards subsequently found all four cars to be in breach of the regulations, but imposed no penalty as they deemed it had been an unintentional error which had given the drivers no advantage. Indeed, when GPWeek spoke to GP2 Series Technical Director Didier Perrin, he confirmed that the missing spacer would have acted as a huge disadvantage to all four drivers. The GP2 Series, however, has a long history of efficiency in the strict upkeep of its regulations. Luca Filippi was excluded after his GP2 Asia Series race win in Indonesia after his team accidentally fitted his team- mate’s tyres to his car. Similarly, in 2005, Nico Rosberg and Alexandre Premat were both sent to the back of the Hungarian grid after their steering racks were found to have been fitted upside down in qualifying. In both cases it was deemed that the teams in question had made an unintentional error and that no clear advantage could be proved, but the stewards insisted that they were simply applying the letter of the law in imposing a penalty. Rumours quickly started doing the rounds that the only reason the four cars were let off a penalty in Malaysia was because the car of Grosjean, who is part of the Renault Driver Development Programme and managed by GP2 masterminds Flavio Briatore and Bruno Michel, was in their number. The rumours failed to mention that Hanley, whose car was also let off the penalty, is also an RDD driver. As one GP2 team boss told GPWeek, “sport needs fair treatment for everybody. Sometimes there is no chance for drivers to show their talent because others get special treatment. It’s a shame we have to deal with politics because this championship has the potential to be the best in the world.” It must be noted, however, that no proof of any such activity has ever been proven in GP2. Grosjean cops cheating claims TOYOTA F1 third driver Kamui Kobayashi has set his sights on the GP2 Main Series title after taking a commanding win in the Sunday GP2 Asia race in Malaysia, in so doing becoming the first Japanese driver to win a GP2 race. “I’m very happy,” he told GPWeek. “I didn’t really think too much about being the first Japanese driver to win in GP2 but for sure it’s a very good thing for Japanese sport. I think last year Kazuki [Nakajima] did a good job but by the end of the season he didn’t win so I’m happy to do that.” With GP2 Main Series testing already over, Kobayashi says he is confident of a championship challenge with the Dams team, which also ran Nakajima in 2007. “I think we did a really good test with the new car and we are really confident for the title, especially because we did a top time at the Barcelona test.” Kobayashi sets his sights on GP2