New GP2 car gets thumbs-up

The latest model GP2 car was well received by drivers and teams during its introduction in the two-day test at Paul Ricard this week

New GP2 car gets thumbs-up

The debut of the new car had been cautiously anticipated after the previous model, introduced in 2005, had several significant issues on its debut. But the 2008 car successfully completed the test with only a few minor teething problems.

Several teams experienced vibrations in the steering column and front wheels as the steering rack loosened with wear, and some complained of issues with wheel bearings, but the majority of the 26 cars ran largely free of significant problems for the two days.

The problem is thought to be caused by the extra force put through the front wheels by the car's substantial increase in aerodynamical grip, but it is not being treated as a major drama and is expected to be resolved in the next two weeks.

GP2 technical director Didier Perrin was satisfied with the debut of the new car but agrees there is still work to be done on it.

"We reached our target for the first test," he told autosport.com. "The most significant components have all performed very well and we are happy with the amount of mileage covered.

"The steering rack is a problem, but not a major one. We expect to have it solved if not in time for Barcelona next week, then for the test back at Paul Ricard after that."

Perrin was also pleased with the performance of the car relative to its predecessor. The fastest lap today was seven tenths of a second quicker than the old car, which had completed its three-year development cycle.

It is expected to be over a second quicker in favourable conditions, once the teams have had more time to work on the set-up.

"We were only looking for the car to be one to one and a half seconds quicker than the old one, we were not looking for the biggest performance gain possible," added Perrin.

"For example, the rear wing is limited to 17 degrees, and the maximum possible is 35, so we have a lot more downforce available to us.

"But we wanted to make the car quite difficult to set-up and drive to make sure we have good racing."

Campos Racing's Ben Hanley, who was quickest on the first day of testing yesterday, agrees that the new car is a significant step forward.

"We've come down from a 1:12.6 to a 1:12.0 in one day, which shows the car is a dramatic improvement on the old one.

"There's a lot more aero grip and you can really feel the difference, especially in the quicker corners," he told autosport.com. "We found a good balance and there's a lot of pace in the car."

Hanley was one of the drivers to suffer unreliability, though, and he was forced to sit out most of this morning's session with a clutch problem.

"There are always a few teething problems with a new car but, touch wood, the major things seem to be fine. It's just frustrating sitting in the garage because every lap I'm watching instead of driving is more data we're not getting."

The teams will continue their development of the new car at Barcelona on Tuesday and Wednesday next week.

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