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GP Week : Issue 37
w F1 Order > F1NEWS> Di Grassi Dominates GP2 Test team-mate Heikki Kovalainen finished the test bottom of the pile, and unable even to compete with the times of the similarly Mercedes- engined Force India of Adrian Sutil. Toyota again shone under Timo Glock’s guidance, with the German setting the fourth best overall time, while BMW was the only team other than Brawn and Ferrari to get both drivers into the top ten overall after four days of running. This week sees the final test of the winter, although not every team is able to run as most have used up their winter testing allocation. On the first day, the BrawnGP team picked up where it had left off last week with Barrichello topping the times from Alonso’s Renault and Williams tester Nico Hulkenberg in third. McLaren will join the test tomorrow. As always with winter testing it is difficult to draw too much from the times, although the noises coming from some of the top teams suggests that BrawnGP really is as fast as its times suggest. LUCAS di Grassi has dominated the first of two pre-season GP2 Series tests, topping two of the three days at Circuit Paul Ricard with the newly named Fat Burner Racing Engineering team. Di Grassi, who has moved from 2008 team champions Campos to Racing Engineering, mirroring the exact move which brought Giorgio Pantano the 2008 drivers’ title, has signalled his intent on the 2009 title early, and the performance of his new team-mate Dani Clos will give the team confidence that it can hit the ground running in 2009. All teams were able to run the latest upgrades on their GP2 cars, which included new engines. Built on the existing engine block and crankshaft, the 2009 engine features completely new cylinder heads and a new top half in order to improve the cooling of the cylinders and thus provide an increase in sustained power. This will allow the teams to improve the use of the engine power curve, and will deliver an additional 25hp over the entire rev range. It was Spaniard Javier Villa who used this increase in power to the best effect, setting a new GP2 lap record on the 3D configuration of Paul Ricard on the first day for Super Nova, leading Lucas di Grassi and GP2 Asia championship leader Kamui Kobayshi of Dams. The second day saw the teams make use of the 2A layout which utilises the long back straight, to configure engine mapping and low downforce set- ups on the car. It was the two Racing Engineering cars that led the way on day two, with Pastor Maldonado, who has joined ART Grand Prix alongside Nico Hulkenberg for 2009, finishing narrowly behind the duo. The third and final day saw the teams take to the short 2D configuration, and di Grassis again led the field, this time from his 2008 team- mate Vitaly Petrov in the Campos car. The top three was completed by Andi Zuber who has signed to race for Giancarlo Fisichella’s FMS team in 2009. So while di Grassi left the test with perhaps the most to smile about, it is fans of GP2 who once again have much to look forward to. The three days of testing saw some incredibly close times, with sessions often ending with all drivers within a few seconds of the best laptime. Only one test remains in the pre-season, with the 13 teams due to run for three days in Barcelona from March 23-25.