Barwa Addax Team owner Alejandro Agag has revealed that he came close to signing Davide Valsecchi, after a tough weekend in Malaysia for his team that he attributed to a poor tyre strategy.
The reigning teams' champions and their new drivers Johnny Cecotto and Josef Kral failed to score any points in the first round of the season. Agag declared that DAMS are the team to beat this season thanks to their strong driver lineup, even if they won neither of the races in Sepang.
He said that the team nearly signed DAMS' lead driver Valsecchi, who claimed pole position in qualifying and lies second in the standings after finishing the feature race in second place. He also took the opportunity to praise the team's other driver Felipe Nasr, who claimed a debut podium in the sprint race.
“This year's grid line up is very good,” he said. “I think that DAMS is clearly the rival to beat because they have two very good drivers.
“They have Valsecchi who is a great driver, and we were about to sign him ourselves but he was taken away from under our noses. They also have a very good rookie, Felipe Nasr a driver who I think will be a very big star in the near future.”
Agag blamed his team's difficult weekend on a poor choice of tyre strategy for the first race weekend with the new prime/option tyre regulations.
“We didn't start well yesterday,” he said on Sunday. “We had lots of problems in the first race. The new regulations this season means we have two different sets of tyres, and it was this in the end where we got it wrong with our strategy, because both cars had no traction in the initial laps of the first race. Then we made a mistake in the tyre change of one of our drivers, anyway… a race to forget about.”
Cecotto failed to add a second GP2 Series career points finish in what was his 20th race weekend in the championship.
“The first weekend was quite difficult for us,” said the 22-year-old. “I arrived not knowing the track but it wasn’t a big problem. In qualifying we didn’t get one clear lap and it made us loose quite a few places. I had a very good start in the first race and managed to pass 7th in the first lap, than we had a few difficulties because of our initial tyre choice but I’m sure we could have regained a lot of places after the pit-stop and the better tires but shamefully I lost the wheel in the first corner.
“Race 2 started bad already because when I reached my grid position already three red lights were on and I didn’t have time to do my starting procedure. At least than my pace was really good throughout the whole race we were as quick as and several times even quicker than the leaders. I’m sure that in the next race we can bring home a lot of points”
Teammate Kral didn't fare much better, though he did finish the sprint race in ninth place, just outside the points.
“Overall it was very difficult weekend for us because we were lacking a bit more luck,” said the Czech driver. “Unfortunately I didn’t do a single clean lap in qualifying even though the sectors looked pretty well. So then it was already difficult from this point because we had to move forward through the field to try score at least some points. It got much better after the start of the first race. I had a very good start and I moved from P13 to P8 but unfortunately again we struggled a lot on the first set and I dropped to P21. But I gained some places in the pit stop and the pace got much better in the second half of the race so in the end I managed to get back to P14.
“In the second race I had a very good start again and I moved forward but unfortunately I was forced to go pretty wide in the first corner which coasted me some place. Then I was trying to look after the tires and to keep it ready for the end of the race. The pace was very good and I was one of the quickest. I managed to overtake few cars and in the end finished on P9.
“It wasn’t a great weekend but we showed that we have a good speed so for Bahrain we need to get better starting position and then I am sure that we will be competitive! Now we have some time to analyze what happened and improve our performance.”