The ART Grand Prix team arrived in Spain hopeful of good results after seeing Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne win the opening feature race in Bahrain. However the weekend did not go to plan, and the team left the Circuit de Catalunya after two races where neither Vandoorne nor team-mate Takuya Izawa managed to score a point.
Vandoorne would have lined-up tenth after being baulked during qualifying, but he stalled on the grid, which meant he had to start from the pit-lane. He managed to fight through to 14th in race one, and then to tenth in race two, but missed out on points for the third race in a row after winning the season opener in Bahrain.
“The weekend was looking good after practice,” said Vandoorne. “In qualifying I was delayed on my fastest lap and that always costs you dearly in GP2. From 10th it was not an impossible task to move up in the points, but I stalled on the grid. In a split second, the weekend collapses. However, it’s all part of learning this championship. We were fast in the race as well and we have the weapons to be just as competitive as we were in Bahrain. Now we will have to work backwards to get as high as we did on the first grid.”
For Japanese driver Izawa, it was his first visit to the Spanish circuit, and it took time for him to learn the track. He struggled in qualifying and much like his team-mate, stalled on the feature race grid and finished last on the road. The Sunday morning Sprint race was much better for Izawa, and he climbed through to finish 13th and only a few seconds behind Vandoorne.
“I did not know the Barcelona circuit and it is certainly not the easiest to learn in just 45 minutes of free practice,” exclaimed Izawa. “But I am satisfied with my progress that ART Grand Prix contributed greatly to through their professionalism. I was very comfortable in the race and I was able to take several places after starting from the back of the grid. This is encouraging for the rest of the championship.”
ART Grand Prix Team Principal Frederic Vasseur was adamant that neither Vandoorne, nor Izawa should be downhearted about their weekend, and that better results will come their way as the two rookies continue their seasons.
“The overall picture is negative and yet Stoffel and Takuya have nothing to be ashamed of: Stoffel lost a lot of time in traffic otherwise he would have set the third fastest time,” said Vasseur. “His race pace was excellent but it is always difficult to overtake at Barcelona.
“Takuya discovered the Circuit de Catalunya for the first time and his progression was solid and constant. ART Grand Prix must ensure that their drivers are better placed on the grid. Thereafter, with the great race qualities possessed by both Stoffel and Takuya, the results will come naturally.”