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GP Week : Issue 54
GP2: The Incredible Hulk (enbe NICO Hulkenberg arrived in Germany fourth place in the GP2 standings and without a win to his name in his rookie season. He left as only the second driver in history to record a perfect weekend of pole position, race one win, race one fastest lap, race two win and race two fastest lap, and took the lead of the championship battle to boot. All in all it was an incredible weekend from the 21- year-old, and confirmation of his exceptional quality behind the wheel of a racing car. The first race took place in bone dry conditions, and there wasn’t another driver in the field who could compete with the pole- sitter’s pace. He was never headed, recording an easy lights-to-flag victory from Roldan Rodriguez and Andi Zuber. It was Rodriguez’s first points haul of 2009, coming in the race weekend after his team-mate Alberto Valerio had taken his first GP2 victory, and showed once again the up-turn in form at Piquet GP. The podium had been decided after Lucas di Grassi, who had taken second at the race start, started to fade once again with badly flat-spotted tyres. The Brazilian’s front right was so bad that he was one of only a handful of drivers to change all four tyres at his pit- stop, which he immediately flat-spotted once again as he left the pits. The hitherto dominant force of Addax was strangely off the pace in Germany, the cold temperatures not helping matters for the team, although Vitaly Petrov was able to bring the car home in fourth position. Romain Grosjean, the championship leader at this point, failed to score any points at all 30 after a suspected hydraulic failure cut his race short just a few laps from home. That left Javier Villa in fifth with Alvaro Parente sixth, di Grassi seventh and Sergio Perez eighth. It was the Argentine who took pole on the reverse grid for Sunday’s race, which started on a wet track after an early morning rain storm. As the lights went out it was Petrov who had by far the best start, screaming through the field and making contact with di Grassi en route to first place. Di Grassi ploughed straight on at the first corner, taking Perez with him and in the melee Nico Hulkenberg began a charge to the front. He dispatched his rivals with what at times seemed to be choreographed overtaking moves, and was soon up to within a second of Petrov. But the Stewards intervened and slapped a drive-through penalty on Petrov for his contact with di Grassi, and the race was decided. Petrov tried to fight his way back through the field, making his way as high as third before spinning back to fourth. The podium became a fight between Kamui Kobayashi and Alvaro Parente, and it was the Portuguese driver who came out on top in that particular battle. Grosjean had fought his way up from 22nd on the grid to an incredible fifth at the flag, with Javier Villa sixth. But the weekend and the championship lead belonged to Nico Hulkenberg. With talk of driver moves up to F1, his main championship rival may not even be racing in GP2 in Hungary. But for all those who are, it is the German for whom they must aim in two weeks’time.