Rosberg Wins to Secure Title
|By David Cameron||Thursday, September 29th 2005, 13:53 GMT|
Nico Rosberg is the inaugural GP2 Champion after winning race one at the Bahrain International Circuit, with teammate Alex Premat protecting him from title rival Heikki Kovalainen.
The championship challengers filled the front row on the grid, and pole sitter Rosberg led the way down to turn one as the lights went out, slightly blocking Kovalainen's path and allowing Nicolas Lapierre into second.
One corner later and order was restored, with Kovalainen pushing hard to catch the German. The pair were almost immediately together as a result of the safety car coming out on track in response to three stranded cars on the front straight – Jose Maria Lopez, Giorgio Mondini and Can Artam all stalled at the start.
The cars were removed by the time the field filed past the finish line for the first time, and one lap later they were released again, with Rosberg making a good start and Kovalainen following the safety car in to make his compulsory pitstop.
It was a risky strategy, but one that had worked in the past – Kovalainen came out twentieth but with clean air in front of him, and set about pushing as hard as he could as he waited for the rest of the grid to peel off into the pitlane.
Back on track the order at the front of the race was Rosberg from Lapierre, Premat and a fast starting Ernesto Viso. Behind the Venezuelan Giorgio Pantano was pushing hard for fourth, and after a lap on his tail he eased by into turn one.
Borja Garcia was in second place among the early stoppers, but Scott Speed was pushing him hard – the pressure worked, and on lap six he was able to slip by Garcia at turn one, clearly the most popular place to make an overtaking move.
Two laps later Gimmi Bruni slowed dramatically on the front straight but continued on. It was to no avail – the Italian had to pull over at turn ten to abandon his car and find his way back to the pit under his own power.
Speed wasn't to remain in the race for much longer – on lap ten he spun out of the race at turn one, with the car seemingly unable to slow and running straight before stopping next to the barriers.
With the pitstops working out in Kovalainen's favour the Finn was now up to eighth place, and Rosberg's engineers obviously decided enough was enough – they brought their driver in on lap eleven, followed closely by most of the lead drivers.
Rosberg's stop was conservative but good enough – he rejoined the track just ahead of Kovalainen, and was able to pull away almost immediately. The German wasn't the only fast driver on track – teammate Premat was able to push past Kovalainen on lap 16 at turn one after just failing to hold the same move one lap earlier.
Within a few laps every driver had made their stop, and the order at the front was Rosberg from Premat, Kovalainen and Monfardini, the Italian having driven a remarkably impressive race after his recent dramas to be in fourth place on the road.
Heartbreakingly it didn't last – on lap 21 Monfardini stopped at turn eight with a broken car, waving his hands in pain as he realised that he best result had just be taken from his grasp.
Back on track Rosberg looked untouchable, easily pulling away from Kovalainen on every lap. With four points between the pair the title was now effectively over, and Premat setting the fastest lap on lap 25 was salt in the Finn's wounds.
However, a glimmer of hope appeared for Kovalainen as Premat's car started smoking, potentially throwing everything into the air – if the Frenchman failed to finish it would put Kovalainen just two points behind in the championship, with fastest lap going to Olivier Pla.
Kovalainen pushed hard, but he was chasing a dream – after two laps the smoke stopped and Premat's car had sorted itself, and the title was gone. The few remaining laps rolled by and Rosberg took the chequered flag with both hands in the air, followed by teammate Premat and rival Kovalainen.
Jose Maria Lopez was best of the rest, having run a solid race to take fourth ahead of Pantano and Lapierre.
Hiroki Yoshimoto was next through, immediately followed by teammate Viso – the BCN pair looked as though they were running as slowly as possible to take tomorrow's pole, and Viso will lead an all BCN front row in the final race of the 2005 championship.
Race one results:
Pos Driver Team Time
1. Rosberg ART Grand Prix 34 laps
2. Premat ART Grand Prix + 11.557
3. Kovalainen Arden International + 18.768
4. Lopez DAMS + 33.723
5. Pantano Super Nova + 38.348
6. Lapierre Arden International + 43.930
7. Yoshimoto BCN Competicion + 54.077
8. Viso BCN Competicion + 54.478
9. Carroll Super Nova + 56.071
10. Alvarez Campos Racing + 1:07.712
11. Fauzy DAMS + 1:09.416
12. Negrao Hitech Piquet + 1:10.016
13. Piccione Durango + 1:14.937
14. Lauda Coloni + 1:22.167
15. Hernandez Campos Racing + 1:27.321
16. Jani Racing Engineering + 1:33.179
17. Artam iSport + 1:36.993
18. Mondini DPR + 1 lap
19. Garcia Racing Engineering + 3 laps
20. Pla DPR + 5 laps
Fastest lap: Premat, 1:47.766
Driver Team On lap Monfardini Coloni 20 Piquet Hitech Piquet 13 Speed iSport 10 Bruni Durango 7 2005 Championship, Round 12 (race 22): Drivers: Teams: 1. Rosberg 114 1. ART Grand Prix 177 2. Kovalainen 105 2. Arden International 126 3. Speed 65.5 3. Super Nova International 100 4. Premat 63 4. iSport International 67.5 5. Carroll 53 5. Racing Engineering 65.5 6. Jani 48 6. Hitech Piquet Sports 50 7. Pantano 47 7. Coloni Motorsport 36 8. Piquet 46 8. DAMS 33 9. Bruni 35 9. BCN Competicion 29 10. Lopez 33 10. DPR 22 11. Lapierre 21 11. Durango 21 12. Pla 20 12. Campos Racing 7.5 13. Garcia 17.5 14. Viso 16 15. Piccione 14 16. Yoshimoto 13 17. Monfardini 5 18. Alvarez 4.5 19. Negrao 4 20. Hernandez 3 21. Lauda 3 22. Artam 2 23. Sharp 2
All Timing Unofficial