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The Bridgestone e-reporter GP2 diary - Spain 10 May 2009

Bridgestone e-reporter finalist Ferran Lopez Margall with GP2 driver Jerome d'Ambrosio, Spanish Grand Prix, 09 May 2009 © Bridgestone Bridgestone e-reporter finalist Ferran Lopez Margall with GP2 driver Roldan Rodriguez, Spanish Grand Prix, 09 May 2009 © Bridgestone Bridgestone e-reporter finalist Ferran Lopez Margall with DAMS Team Principal Jean-Paul Driot, Spanish Grand Prix, 09 May 2009 © Bridgestone Bridgestone e-reporter finalist Ferran Lopez Margall with Tomas Zumarraga, Spanish Grand Prix, 09 May 2009 © Bridgestone Bridgestone e-reporter finalist Ferran Lopez Margall with DAMS Team Principal Jean-Paul Driot, Spanish Grand Prix, 09 May 2009 © Bridgestone

Since its inception in 2005, the GP2 Series has established itself as a serious breeding ground for Formula One talent - with the likes of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton as evidence. And official tyre suppliers to the series, Bridgestone, are helping to do the same for motorsport journalism, with their e-reporter competition.

Eight of the 2009 finalists will each get to report from one round of the series, and will be supplying Formula1.com with details of the GP2 action, plus a diary reflecting their experience as a first-time paddock correspondent. For Spain, it’s 25-year-old Spanish writer, Ferran Lopez Margall...

Sunday race report - Grosjean fails to pass rookie Mortara
After the first race of the weekend was dominated by French driver Romain Grosjean, the second race saw a different winner.

The race, which was marked by a spectacular start by both Edoardo Mortara and Grosjean, finished with the Italian rookie taking first position, followed by the Frenchman and Jerome D'Ambrosio from the DAMS team in third.

Kamui Kobayashi, the winner of the 2008/2009 GP2 Asia Series, started from pole position while the first Spaniard on today’s grid was Javier Villa in tenth position. While Grosjean gained four places from the start Kobayashi remained stuck, losing four positions before the final straight.

After just five laps, Grosjean started to attack the leader. But while Grosjean was gaining in the more technical second half of the track, Mortara left him behind in the first part.

The other main battle was for fourth position. Up to five different drivers were alternating positions and fourth place ended up in the hands of Giedo van der Garde.

In terms of the Spaniards, Dani Clos from the Fat Burner Racing Engineering team set the fastest lap of the day but unfortunately didn’t win an extra point because he didn’t finish in the top ten. This went to Mortara. The other Spanish drivers Javier Villa and Roldan Rodriguez couldn’t finish the race due to mechanical problems.

The next GP2 Series round will take place in Monaco from 22-23 May.

Sunday diary - a passion for excellence
Unfortunately all good things must come to an end. When I sent my entry in March to the Bridgestone e-reporter website, I didn’t imagine how important this experience would be in my life. Thanks to the Bridgestone team, I have known what it is like to work as a motorsport journalist for a weekend.

Life in the paddock is really wonderful, but the people here are even better. You wake up early, work for more than 12 hours and you still want to have a drink with them. It is this great atmosphere that makes Bridgestone the best group of professionals in the paddock. It is also because of this that they are the official tyre suppliers for Formula One, MotoGP and, of course, the GP2 Series.

On Friday I told you that I have visited this circuit many times before because it is so close to my home, but this time the experience was very different - much more magical than the other times. On Friday I didn’t know what this feeling was but now, having crossed the line that separates the fans from the people who work for the Formula One and GP2 Series, I understand it.

If you enter any paddock, any hospitality unit or any press room, you don’t see a difference between fans and Formula One/GP2 professionals. Every excellent engineer, every professional reporter, every amazing driver…everyone who makes this world possible is first and foremost a fan because they love their job. Certainly it is this passion that makes this sport unique.

After this amazing weekend I couldn’t finish my report without mentioning two fabulous and dedicated women: Franca Davenport and Debbie Beale. Thank you very much for making my dream come true!

Saturday race report - powerful Grosjean wins first race
The 2009 season of the GP2 Series - the main feeder to Formula One racing - has begun at the Circuit de Catalunya with an exciting race that was led from start to finish by the solid French driver Romain Grosjean from the Spanish Barwa Campos team. Vitaly Petrov, also from the Barwa Campos, came second and Jerome D’ Ambrosio from the DAMS team completed the first podium of this year in third place.

After a clean start, without any of the typical Circuit de Catalunya accidents, Grosjean took the lead and kept it until the end. Meanwhile, behind him things were not so clear. Petrov who was seventh overall in the 2008 GP2 Series, snatched second position from Lucas di Grassi on the first curve of the circuit.

The Spanish contingent was driving well until Lap 25 when an incident between Dani Clos and Roldan Rodriguez forced Rodriguez to retire when he was fighting for eighth place.

In the final seven laps of the race, there was a dramatic battle in which six cars were fighting for one place. Unfortunately for the Spanish fans the fighting ended with Clos out of the race. The last Spanish driver in the race, Javier Villa from Super Nova, ended up in tenth position.

With just five laps remaining, the safety car was sent out due to an incident between Lucas di Grassi and Alvaro Parente. The Ocean driver hit the Fat Burner Racing Engineering car.

Finally, Grosjean not only gained ten points by winning the race but he also won an extra point for the fastest lap of the day (1m 31.070s) in addition to the two points for pole position. A fantastic start for the French driver.

Saturday diary - a dream of a day
Before beginning Saturday’s diary, I would like to say how Friday ended. After a fantastic but stressful day I was invited to a Bridgestone media event at a karting circuit near the Circuit de Catalunya. It was an amazing experience. I got the opportunity to drive a kart in a real competition against journalists from BBC, RTL, Autosport, La Sexta TV, and members from the Bridgestone team.

After the karting session Antonio Lobato from La Sexta TV told me that he will return next year and bring McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa because he wants to win the Bridgestone F1 Media Karting Challenge. After seeing the final times I think that my team and I need some lessons from Romain Grosjean, who was on pole position for the first GP2 Series race.

If yesterday was a very busy day, today has been even more so. Throughout the day I had the pleasure of interviewing Didier Perrin (GP2 Series Technical Director), Roldan Rodriguez (excellent GP2 Spanish driver) and Jean-Paul Driot (DAMS team principal).

After interviewing these interesting people, I had an hour for lunch at the Bridgestone Formula One motorhome with one of the best Spanish motorsport journalists, Raymond Blancafort from El Mundo Deportivo, who gave me some interesting journalism advice. After that I had the opportunity to visit the Red Bull and Toro Rosso motorhomes before heading back to the GP2 paddock to watch the exciting GP2 Series race.

Definitely, the Bridgestone e-reporter contest is a unique and great opportunity to improve my journalism skills and it makes it even more special to experience it at my home Grand Prix circuit. Surely, no money in the world could buy what the Bridgestone family are showing me this weekend.

Qualifying report - Grosjean wins first pole of new season
Roman Grosjean from the Spanish Barwa Addax Campos Team - one of the strongest GP2 Series teams - is in pole position after Friday’s GP2 qualifying at the Circuit de Catalunya. The French driver set the fastest time with an excellent lap of 1m 27.510s. Only the Brazilian driver Lucas Di Grassi (1m 27.531s) from Fat Burner Racing Engineering could get close to his time.

The third fastest man of the day was Vitaly Petrov. The Russian driver from the Barwa Campos Team finished qualifying five-tenths of a second further back. Fourth place went to the German driver Nico Hulkenberg. Taking a look at the grid, there are 15 drivers all within one second of each other, so we can be sure that Saturday will see an exciting race.

In general terms, qualifying went well with perfect sunny conditions and there was only one major accident, involving the Telmex Arden International driver, Sergio Perez.

Current GP2 Asia Series champion, DAMS driver Kamui Kobayashi finished qualifying in 22nd position because, like Di Grassi, he had some traffic problems.

In terms of the Spanish drivers, the best classified was Roldan Rodriguez, who starts in ninth place. Javier Villa from Super Nova Racing is 12th, but will lose three places because he didn’t slow sufficiently for the yellow flags in the free practice session. The last Spanish driver was Dani Clos in 17th position.

Friday diary - Gentlemen, start your engines
I’m feeling like a kid during his first day of school. Although I have experienced many Grand Prix events at this fabulous circuit, now everything seems different again… like magic. I don’t know what it is, but I hope that I’ll discover by the end of this fantastic weekend.

Today I arrive at the circuit very early in the morning. When I was in front of the paddock entrance, I was very nervous and I couldn’t stop thinking about a phrase that I once heard on a TV motorsports programme. Every single race since 1911 at the Indianapolis 500, the speaker starts the race saying: “Gentlemen, start your engines”. And now it’s just what I am doing - I am preparing my engines for a long race in motorsport journalism.

The day at the GP2 paddock starts with a great British breakfast at the GP2 hospitality unit. After breakfast, my mentors provide an excellent master class on motorsport journalism and the Bridgestone philosophy. After this we start working on the topics for my articles in the Bridgestone truck.

At one o’clock I have a media lunch in the Formula One paddock. It was amazing! I had the opportunity to sit at the same table as Tony Jardine, three Japanese journalists and Kamui Kobayashi, the winner of the 2008/2009 GP2 Asia Series. He is an excellent person and an even better driver.

At four o’clock the GP2 qualifying session starts. Roman Grosjean gets pole position with an excellent time (1m 27.510s) and Lucas di Grassi is close behind him. After the qualifying session it was time to go to the press conference to hear the first impressions of the fastest drivers of the day.

Once the conference was finished I had the pleasure to talk with Dani Clos, who is a very good Spanish GP2 driver. It was a great interview and from talking with him I learnt that we have some mutual friends from Alella (Barcelona).

I think that the experience has only just started and there are lots of surprises waiting for me in the next few days.

For more on the Bridgestone e-reporter competition, click here.