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GP Week : Issue 49
GP2: The Russian Revolutio VITALY Petrov leads the GP2 Series championship standings after an outstanding weekend for the Russian in Istanbul. The Addax driver made the most of his team- mate Romain Grosjean’s sudden and marked fall from grace, taking a win and a podium on a weekend when the Frenchman failed to pick up a point, snatching the championship advantage going into the fourth round of the 2009 season in Silverstone. The first two points of the weekend went to ART’s Nico Hulkenberg.. The rookie had been in fantastic form in qualifying to net his first GP2 pole, and lined up on the front row of the feature race alongside Luca Filippi. The two Addax cars were next up, and at the start of the race it was Grosjean who was on the move. But the Frenchman pushed too hard too early, and made a number of unnecessary mistakes, eventually slipping back down the order and out of the points before the first lap was even finished. Up at the front it was turning into a battle between Hulkenberg and Filippi, and the Italian appeared to be the faster of the two. Hulkenberg appeared flustered by Filippi’s advances, and as the duo rounded the final section of slow corners side by side, their battle caused them both to lose traction onto the straight. Petrov, who had been calmly sitting in third place, simply sailed past them both and into a lead that not even a Safety Car period, brought about for Alvaro Parente’s stricken car 32 at Turn 8, could diminish. Petrov was utterly dominant, at times lapping over a second quicker than his rivals despite admitting after the race that he had only been driving at 80 percent capacity. But while Petrov had it all his own way, the man on the move was Davide Valsecchi. The Durango driver stormed through the field, and after a dismal first few weekends netted his first podium of the year in third position, narrowly behind Filippi who also took his first podium of 2009. Alberto Valerio, who had spent much of the Monaco weekend in the wall, drove a storming race to come home fourth, with the ART duo of Hulkenberg and Maldonado fifth and sixth, and Javier Villa and Lucas di Grassi, pictured inset, completing the points scoring drivers in the top eight. Di Grassi’s point, however, only came after Geido van der Garde had been slapped with a few penalties for overtaking the Safety Car, and it handed the Brazilian pole for Sunday’s sprint race. It was a race he won with ease, becoming the first GP2 driver to notch up two victories at the track, his first having come in 2007. Javier Villa ran home second in what was a fairly uneventful race, as Petrov drove beautifully once again to rise from eighth on the reverse grid to third. Fourth and fifth went to the ART duo of Hulkenberg and Maldonado with Valerio again popping up into the points in sixth. Petrov now leads the standings on 33 points, two ahead of Grosjean, with Jerome d’Ambrosio still third on 18 after a pointless weekend.