Today was a very unusual Friday. GP2’s weekend is already almost over, and we were presented with a great trio of sessions where Lotus failed to be their usual selves, but Davide Valsecchi once again came out a winner. He’s only the fourth person to win three GP2 races in a row, but could become the first to win four in a row if he can repeat his efforts from last weekend.
For the first time in 2012, the Italian was not on pole. That honour was taken by Giedo van der Garde, who drove a clean lap on the option tyres while most drivers were in the garage. Despite a mistake in his pole lap, it was good enough to beat Valsecchi’s best on primes. In the latter half of the session, the GP2 drivers were making a lot of mistakes. This was probably due to the lack of F1 rubber usually laid down on a race weekend, and they weren’t used to it.
Van der Garde pulled ahead of Valsecchi at the start, but his tyres faded and the Italian soon overtook, as did Fabio Leimer and Marcus Ericsson. There were some ferocious battles behind as well, between Chilton, Razia and Haryanto amongst others. Felipe Nasr also did a great job, though a penalty applied after the race ruined his work.
Towards the final ten laps, Ericsson’s tyres fell off dramatically. Van der Garde returned to a podium position chasing Leimer, who was chasing Valsecchi. Meanwhile the Swede was overtaken by Razia and Chilton, who had a close fight to the end that the Brazilian won. Behind was Tom Dillmann, but he was soon beaten by Haryanto and then the speedy rookie Felipe Nasr. Ericsson fell backwards to eighth, but was not challenged by Dillmann.
After the race, Nasr received a 20s penalty for going too fast under yellow flags – another troubling stewarding decision for the DAMS driver – which promoted Dillmann to reversed pole tomorrow. Crestani and Gonzalez (who had some good moments during the race) also got penalties for the same offence.
There were two practice sessions today in Portimao. The first had fairly slow times, and was headed by Luciano Bacheta with Matheo Tuscher second and Christopher Zanella third. The second session saw a new leader, but most surprising was Partiva Sureshwaren, who had been slowest in the morning (and is generally one of the slower F2 drivers). Sureshwaren was sixth-fastest in the afternoon.
Tomorrow is the first qualifying and race, with the second qualifying and race on Sunday.