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GP Week : Issue 45
Is Romain GP2’s new superman? ROMAIN Grosjean has laid down a serious message of intent as to the 2009 GP2 Series championship, with a dominant first weekend for the category in Spain. The Renault F1 test driver was fastest in practice and duly went on to take the first points of the season when he locked out pole position in qualifying. The signs looked ominous, but the result of the first race was still a shock. Leading home a 1-2 for the newly named Barwa Addax (formerly Campos) team, GP2 hadn’t seen quite such a dominant display since Lewis Hamilton and ART had ripped up the track at the Nurburgring in 2006. Grosjean was untouchable in the first race and set the fastest lap, but with team-mate Vitaly Petrov keeping within respectable distance there was hope that 2009 wouldn’t become an immediate Grosjean show. Indeed, on a circuit at which all the teams had tested just over one month previously, the extra knowledge could be argued to have given a slightly stilted impression of competitiveness. GP2 Asia standout Jerome d’Ambrosio netted third position, with Luca Filippi fourth, Pastor Maldonado fifth, rookie Edoardo Mortara a fine sixth on his debut having fallen to 15th in the opening laps, Geido van der Garde seventh from 18th on the grid and GP2 Asia champion Kamui Kobayashi eighth from 22nd on the grid. Lucas di Grassi had a lucky escape in a hefty 30 race-ending crash. Struggling on old tyres, he was tagged by Alvaro Parente and the Portuguese driver’s car was launched on top of the Brazilian’s, with Parente’s right rear tyre landing on top of di Grassi’s helmet. Both were, thankfully, unhurt. Sunday’s race saw Kobayashi on pole with the reverse grid structure, but it was Mortara who made the best start. The Italian battled van der Garde into the first corner and came out on top, as d’Ambosio and Grosjean quickly dispatched the Dutchman and got after Mortara. Grosjean was soon past d’Ambrosio too, and with only Mortara standing between him and the first perfect weekend since Nelson Piquet’s Hungary outing in 2006, the Frenchman was hungry to take the lead. But try as he might, he just couldn’t find a way past. Mortara had Grosjean covered, and battled strongly to keep his lead on the sole occasion that Grosjean got a sniff at a chance. Mortara, pictured right, held on for an incredible win on his first GP2 weekend and took the fastest lap in the process to leave the Spanish track with second position in the title race on 10 points, eight behind early leader Grosjean. D’Ambrosio, who again took third in the Sunday race, also sits on 10 points with Petrov, Filippi and van der Garde completing the top six in the title race. Next stop is Monaco where ART driver Pastor Maldonado always shines.