Stephane Richelmi had high hopes going into the opening weekend of the 2014 GP2 Season, and despite obtaining fifth place in race two, the DAMS driver left Sakhir despondent, as he saw his team-mate Jolyon Palmer lead the championship after third place in round 1 and a win in round 2.
“In terms of results and points scored, it was clearly a disappointing weekend,” said Richelmi to Checkered Flag. “[With it being] my third season in GP2, with a team mate leading the championship, I can’t be pleased scoring 6 points… But I know the reasons why and that we have the pace to fight for the podium in each race.”
He looked back at his qualifying session around the Bahrain International Circuit, and despite qualifying in fourth position; he was still behind Palmer who sat on pole position.
“When you are beaten by your team-mate, it means you didn’t make the job as good as him. But being P4, even with a fast car, it’s always a proper way to start the weekend. For sure our set-up is working but to be honest, we thought we would have suffered more compare to the others. We were not really the fastest during the pre-seasons test. To analyse my Qualifying, I would say that during my 1st set, I wasn’t pushing enough and during my fastest lap, some circumstances made my life harder…”
Race one did not go to plan for the Monegasque driver, despite running up near the front at the start, he finished well down the order in nineteenth position after being one of the many who suffered with tyre issues.
“Stopping in the 6th lap was not best option, as we caught Rossi in the pit slowing down hugely to let Haryanto made his pit-stop and as we didn’t use completely the Soft [tyre] and in consequence, made a longer prime stint compare to others stopping later,” admitted Richelmi. “Then when you are in traffic, it’s really hard to keep the tyres as you follow cars from really close. And to finish, at some laps to the end, I suffered of a car issue that slowed me down even more…
“We know well than in Bahrain, the tarmac and the heat make the tyres’ life hard. When you slide too much, you increase quickly the tyres temperature and in consequence, you damaged quickly the tyres, especially the rear. Also because Sakhir have many V Shape corners where you demand a lot on traction. I think, it’s one of the worse of the year in terms of tyre wear so it won’t be a problem afterwards.”
Race two was a much happier affair which saw Richelmi fight through to fifth position, but he still has regrets about the race, especially the amount of time he had to sit behind the Campos Racing machine of Arthur Pic, who in turn was tucked up behind the Carlin car of Felipe Nasr. Richelmi does have confidence however going onwards into the rest of the year, and will be hoping for better in Spain next month.
“For sure after such a disappointing race 1, I really wanted to do well the Sunday to come back home happy and in confidence. Everything went well but I stayed too long behind Pic. I was faster than him and Nasr but Felipe was holding us to protect his tyres and Pic was in his slipstream, so was not possible to overtake him. But anyway, it was a good race with entertainment for me and for the spectators.
“We are leading in terms of points for the teams classification and Palmer showed that we are really strong in each conditions. I’m confident because there is no reason, for me, not to be sure of our potential. And in Montmelo [the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain], I have done P3 in 2012 and P2 in 2013 in qualifying so let’s push for the pole!”