Luca Filippi secured his first win of the 2009/2010 GP2 Asia campaign for the Meritus team after a light to flag victory in the 7th round of the 8 round series, and took the full allotment of points for race one after setting the fastest race lap as well.
Filippi was made to work for his win by the new GP2 Asia Champion Davide Valsecchi, who put the pressure on throughout the whole race.
Off the line, Filippi made a solid get away while fellow front row starter Charles Pic (Arden International) made a slow get away and lost second to the iSport driver Valsecchi. Meanwhile, Valsecchi's team mate, Oliver Turvey, started from the pitlane which left an empty void for Alvaro Parente of Scuderia Coloni to take advantage of. Pic explains the problem which caused him slow start: “I made a good start initially, but then the clutch slipped and I lost momentum. Davide Valsecchi and Alvaro Parente passed me around the outside at Turn One, but I was able to repass Parente almost immediately. I then pushed hard to pull away from him, and to stay with Valsecchi, but I lost a few seconds during my tyre stop. There was nothing wrong with our strategy, or the team’s pit performance, but I got stuck behind Jake Rosenzweig and lost time as I rejoined. I was still close to Valsecchi, but didn’t take any risks and gave him plenty of room at Turn One. That meant I was still third,
so I carried on as before and tried to put Davide under pressure.”
Filippi and Valsecchi ran together for the whole of the 29 lap race, and they even pitted at the exact same time as well, with Filippi coming out ahead of his fellow countryman, and help off the challenge to record his first win of the campaign.
Pic almost passed Valsecchi after the iSport driver had made his stop; the two of them ran side by side through the first corner, Valsecchi then showed why he is the Champion by withstanding the attacks from the recovering Pic.
A late safety car period, caused by a collision between Christian Vietoris, who was running in eighth place and tail ender Plamen Kralev didn't distort the top 3 runners, while Parente was able to hold onto forth. Paolo Coloni, from the team, said about the result: “Alvaro did a great job, he was consistent and on the same pace of the leader throughout the whole race. This 4th position means that we're keeping our improving trend from the start of the weekend. Now, getting a podium in tomorrow's race would be the icing on the cake. As we're using the GP2 Asia Series as training for the Main Series, being in the top three would mean that the training was really good!”
Behind the Scuderia Coloni car of Parente, Arden's Javier Villa, ART Grand Prix's Jules Bianchi and the DPR car of Giacomo Ricci were fighting for fifth, Villa and Bianchi banged wheels on the restart, allowing Ricci to pass them both, while Sam Bird also took advantage and took sixth place away from Villa. Bianchi fell down to tenth after secondary contact with Alexander Rossi.
It wasn't all bad news for the DAMS Outfit, as their other driver, Edoardo Piscopo, will start the final round from pole position thanks to his eighth place in race 1.
After the race, Pic also said about his race: “The Safety Car came out late in the race – and that was bad news for me. I had been pushing very hard from the start and the heat had blistered my right hand – it was very painful towards the end of the race, so having to defend was something I really didn’t need. I tried to stay with Valsecchi
again at the restart, but it simply wasn’t possible and I had to settle for third. I’m pleased with my performance, though, and from sixth on the grid I’m sure I can score another good result tomorrow.”
The race winner, Filippi, admitted he was concerned about Valsecchi, and said: “During the entire race, I was always concerned about Valsecchi because in the past races he has always been able to finish on an even stronger pace. He is incredible fast in the last ten or fifteen gaps. I pushed hard to keep a gap between us, but I was also careful with my rear tyres and not destroy them before the end of the race. When my team told me he was catching me, I pushed in the lap before the safety car. It was quite a good lap, not the fastest, but good enough. So I saw that my pace was still strong and I was able to keep that pace until the chequered flag. Then, with the safety car, of course this put him closer to me, but I managed a good restart and then I pushed 100% until the end and I made two fastest laps. This meant that we kept a bit of rubber this time for the end of the race. I looked at them after the race and they look beautiful and exactly how we wanted them to look.”
Second place finisher Valsecchi said about his race: “Before the safety car I almost reached him. But then came the safety car and it changed the situation a bit. And usually after the safety car came in, it was usually the best time for me to win, but today was a bit more difficult. Anyway, the new part of the trackâ€¦ it's not so fantasticâ€¦ It is very slow and I think it was harder on my tyres than on the previous layout. What I mean is that I couldn't drive as smoothly as usual. At the end, I could not get the same advantage that I usually had this season. So, Filippi was a bit better in the end and he deserved to win. But we finished second and we proved that we are competitive in all sorts of situations and every track. We are quite happy to be there.”
Heading into the season finale, Filippi and Ricci are in pole position to finish the season as vice Champion and 3rd place, and to complete an all Italian 1, 2, 3 in the Championship.