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GP Week : Issue 64
ART Grand Prix has repeated the 2005 and 2006 GP2 championship successes it recorded with Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, in claiming the driver and teams' championships in 2009 with its lead driver Nico Hulkenberg. The GP2 Series saw its 10th and final round at the weekend at a stand-alone event at the Portimao circuit in the Algarve, Portugal, and while we're used to some thrilling races in the championship, the new circuit could not have suited the GP2 Series any better. Its rolling expanses and undulating layout led to some amazing overtaking moves, and a hugely enjoyable final race weekend of the season. With the drivers' championship wrapped up in Monza, the teams' title was still up for grabs and in taking pole position Vitaly Petrov cut the gap between ART and his Addax squad to just 11 points. At the start, Nico Hulkenberg jumped up from third position to sit second at the first corner and shadowed Petrov's every move. It was the championship battle, raging as it had done all the way through the second half of the season, but as in Monza one week before, it was to be Petrov's pitstop that let him down. Hulkenberg pitted and emerged in the midst of a fight with Luca Filippi, who had taken a super early stop to get it out of the way, and with Lucas di Grassi on their tails, the three drivers battled for position. Petrov then took his stop, but a far from optimum in-lap and a slightly slow pitstop dropped him not only out of the lead, but off the podium. Roldan Rodriguez came home fifth, with Michael Herck an astonishing sixth for his and DPR's first points of 2009, Dani Clos seventh and Davide Valsecchi eighth. Hulkenberg's win, and the Addax points haul, thus confirmed ART as champions again. Even the disqualification of Herck for running too low a ride height wasn't enough to help Addax, although it did help Andi Zuber who was promoted to eighth and took pole for the reverse grid race. The second race was red flagged on the first lap following a monstrous shunt when Herck, from last on the grid, slammed into Petrov's stalled car on the grid. With both drivers severely shaken by the impact and debris littering the track, it took 20 minutes to clear the way before a Safety Car restart. It was at that restart, however, that the race was won ... or lost. Zuber got his timing completely wrong, and passed the Safety Car long before it had entered the pits. He took Valsecchi, Kobayashi, di Grassi, Hulkenberg and Maldonado with him and they were all handed drive through penalties. Their faux pas placed Luca Filippi, who had already passed a number of them under racing conditions, at the head of the pack and he took the win from Perez and Villa, with Clos fourth, Parent fifth and Nunes sixth. And that was that. Only it wasn't. Perez was handed a penalty after the race for also passing the safety car and so Super Nova celebrated a 1-2, fastest race lap, and third in the teams' championship on countback of second positions. Incredible! It was a fittingly thrilling end to a wonderful season. Nico Hulkenberg, as Rosberg and Hamilton before him, took the 2009 GP2 Series title with five wins and driving for the ART Grand Prix team. And if either of his ART predecessors are anything to go by, he's going to take F1 by storm. GP2: Hulk's work of ART Champ Hulkenberg takes fitting victory at final GP2 round of 2009 F1 NEWS >> 10