Very interesting and quite eventful race weekend at the Istambul Park circuit. First of all, very sorry to hear about the extent of the injuries to Davide Rigon, after a senseless and utterly maniacal move from Julian Leal… who even had the gall to play innocent when interviewed after the fact. GP2 will lose a magnificent driver, struggling with a seriously under-budgeted seat at Coloni, and it will probably be well into the summer until we see Davide back in the car. Adding to the list is Mikhail Aleshin, who after having budget issues now sees himself out of the car, though we may still see him at Barcelona in 2 weeks.
Back to the race, the dominance of Grosjean was only matched by the magnificent race pace from Sam Bird and the iSport engineers. His car was clearly setup to perform in the second half of the race, when others were seriously battling with their tires. Clear example of this was the unexplainable performance from Dani Clos. An experienced driver with a veteran team should never be in such a ridiculous situation. Even worse, team boss Alfonso de Orleans kept criticizing tire wear, forgetting that all other 25 guys on track had exactly the same Pirellis. The team needs to take a deep and thoughtful look at their car setup, and see where they have erred so much.
Also outstanding was the performance of Stefano Coletti, who already showed form in GP2 Asia and is confirming his speed in the Main Series. The Monegasque, following a lukewarm World Series by Renault season, is bringing Trident to a place more aligned with the talent and enthusiasm lived within the team. The arrival of Nick Wasyliw is no doubt a serious boost to the team managed by Luca Zerbini.
Also to be noted was the strong performance from Barwa Addax. Knowing well where they want to be, I’m sure team boss Alejandro Agag will not be satisfied, but the team had a solid outing at Istambul. Van der Garde fared a bit better than Charles Pic, who seems to be struggling significantly with this 2011 car. He was touted as one of the serious challengers for this season, but starting with the Asia races, Pic has still to put through a strong or convincing drive.
On the flip side, a disastrous weekend for Lotus ART, most notably for Jules Bianchi given his top-3 favorite status. Bianchi’s car looked ragged all weekend, struggling with tires much like Dani Clos in his RE car. Once again, Bianchi and the 2011 chassis still have to find themselves so the Ferrari tester can be competitive at race distance. Also a bad weekend for Marcus Ericsson, coming dangerously close to taking Sam Bird out in Sunday’s race during a safety car restart.
Finally, I wanted to highlight the performance from Fairuz Fauzy, who we all thought was Filippi in that top-10 Super Nova, and from Filippi himself, who was blindingly fast but very unlucky all weekend.