Jules Bianchi has drawn first blood at the inaugural GP2 Asia race in Abu Dhabi. Bianchi pipped Grosjean at the start and never looked back, with the Frenchman probably remembering Fernando Alonso’s futile attempts to overtake Petrov in last year’s F1 finale at the same track. The UAE track is noted for its lack of overtaking spots, and Romain can surely back-up Alonso on this one now.
Though a pretty uneventful race, after the scary crash caused by Dani Clos’ stranded RE car on the grid, we now see that drivers are going at it with no thoughts of championships or points. The race was a nonstop spectacle of outbraking, pushing and nudging here and there, where many were still coming to grips with a very new GP2/11 car.
Most notable is that 2 of the championship favorites, probably THE favorites for many (including most GP2i readers), were ahead of the pack. Strong drivers like Bird, Pic, Ericsson, vd Garde and Razia were caught in the lap-by-lap struggles while the 2 Frenchmen pushed on ahead. Only a very convincing Davide Valsecchi, making us remember his 2010 Asia season with iSport, was able to more or less keep up the pace – giving an ecstatic Air Asia team a podium in its debut race.
Pity about Max Chilton’s penalty, my pick for surprise driver of the year, as he was defending 8th from Coletti yesterday. Great comeback from the Monaco driver, though, after a couple of troubled races with Durango in 2009. Also notable was Josef Kral, who is clearly aiming to put his name up among the favorites.
In today’s sprint race we will see if these 2 guys try and push up the field or if the “others” can pull away and make it their race today. Later today we will see if this will be a French battle for the title, or if there’s still a fight in this very, very short “championship” series…