The Bridgestone e-reporter GP2 diary - Great Britain 21 Jun 2009
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 Great Britain, its 18-year-old Scottish writer, Stephanie Black...
Sunday race - Maldonado dominates sprint race
Pastor Maldonado dominated todays GP2 sprint race, taking his second win of the season. His victory today and his solid performance yesterday take Maldonado to third in a drivers championship which he feels is still very open: This was a good weekend with nine points. We still need to improve within the team and with the car to catch the leader but we are very strong and I think we can lead.
After overtaking Andreas Zuber on the first lap, Maldonados race was straightforward to the chequered flag, keeping a good gap between himself and Zuber. Karun Chandhok took his best finish of the season with third. It was also the first podium for Ocean Racing Technology which Chandhok feels is a well earned result: We didnt quite have the pace today to catch Maldonado and Zuber but I am very pleased for the team. I think we deserve something after all the bad luck we have had this season.
Unfortunately the same could not be said for Racing Engineering driver Dani Clos who had a terrible race after a collision with Luiz Razia on Lap 11. The smash forced Razia to retire, but after a pit stop Clos returned to the track, only to face more problems.
With two laps to go Clos spun his car at Abbey, causing havoc. Jerome DAmbrosio and Giedo van der Garde nearly collided with his stationary car, which was stranded in the middle of the track. The safety car was duly sent out until the flag.
Edoardo Mortara also retired on the second last lap with an engine problem sending a big stream of smoke out of his car. Romain Grosjean now leads the championship with 40 points ahead of team mate Vitaly Petrov with 33 points.
When you find yourself in a place that you have always dreamed of, it is hard to accept the end will come. But thankfully for me I have the rest of Sunday to soak up as much as I can. And what a start it was: an interview with Toby Moody for Silverstone TV.
Saturday was another hectic yet completely enjoyable day. I had a tight schedule of meetings and interviews to keep. Attending a GP2 drivers autograph signing I realised just how popular this feeder series is, as they were swamped by fans. I then had an interview with Bridgestones director of motorsport tyre development, Hirohide Hamashima followed by an interesting chat with driver Lucas di Grassi.
After my lunch with national sports journalists Ian Gordon and Bob McKenzie, I awaited the start of the first race. And what a race it was, giving me plenty to write about.
It was then time for me to be the professional model that I am. My photo shoot with LAT was interesting, as I am sure the six-foot high stack of tyres I was strategically placed next to would not have towered over your average model. But then again Photoshop always comes in handy!
Leaving the track, we headed for dinner in a local pub. After a few laughs and a thrilling debate between my fellow diners and me, it was back to the house for my last night.
Tonight I will fly back to the other side of the fence and leave my shiny pit pass behind but first I would just like to thank everyone who made this weekend what it was for me, and especially Debbie, Peter and Tony. This was the beginning of a world I hope to see a lot more of.
Saturday race - Valerio takes maiden win
Alberto Valerio took his first ever GP2 victory after a storming first race of the weekend for the fans at Silverstone. Pole sitter Romain Grosjean made a good getaway ahead of Valero, but it was trouble for Alvaro Parente as he and championship leader Vitaly Petrov collided at the first corner.
Petrov escaped relatively unharmed but Parentes left front suspension was too badly damaged to continue. Petrov blamed Parente, who rebuffed: Petrov turned into the corner as if there was no car next to him. There was more bad news for Jerome DAmbrosio, who stalled from fourth on the grid.
Early leader Grosjean was soon under pressure and on Lap Eight Valero snatched the lead at Abbey, moving through on the inside. That was just the start of Grosjeans problems as Lucas di Grassi was closing in fast. After piling on the pressure he duly squeezed past at Becketts, leaving Grosjean nowhere to go but the gravel. Grosjean ended up down in fifth but he soon switched his focus to Sunday, adding: It is important now that we concentrate on the second race and keep the championship lead.
Saturday was Valerios day, though. For the Brazilian it really was an amazing moment: It is a dream come true to win. Hopefully this is just the beginning and we can keep on improving.
The Cinderella story of the race was 19 year-old Sergio Perez. The GP2 rookie came from 25th on the grid to take fourth place and the first points of the season for his team, Arden International. Perez spoke about his amazing result: We had a very good start, our strategy went very well for us and I started to push hard in every corner. Now we have more motivation and hopefully can win tomorrow.
After what felt like minutes I awoke for another day at Silverstone. This would be when the hard work would really begin and I would be thrown into the professional life of a journalist. The morning seemed to fly by and I successfully completed my first interview of the day, with none other than German rookie Nico Hulkenberg.
I was then whisked away to watch some of the F1 practice session. The noise these amazing machines generate is mind blowing. Being the engine noise junkie that I am, I refused the earplugs and relished in their V8s. I maybe should add that I dropped my earplugs and therefore had no choice but to brave the noise.
After lunch I dived into an interview with Alexa Quintin, Head of Communications for GP2. Feeling more relaxed and confident I got everything I needed to make an interesting article.
The day just kept getting better and after watching GP2 qualifying I attended my first GP2 press conference, which although short and sweet still made me feel like one of the media pros. I then found myself running after GP2 drivers for an impromptu chat on how they felt their session went. The buzz was simply incredible.
One of the highlights of the day has to be talking to Bruno Senna, and of course having Peter around to take a few shots of me with the ex GP2 driver.
Another day came and went, and even though I was there for 12 hours I could have stayed the night; and I almost had to. After returning to our house I found all my belongings missing from my room. Five minutes of panic later I discovered I had just been moved to another part of the house, but it does show - even after you leave the circuit you still get drama.
Qualifying report - Grosjean sets the pace
For the third time this season the man to beat in qualifying was the fast Frenchman, Romain Grosjean. The Barwa Addax driver consistently produced quick laps throughout the 30-minute qualifying session, setting a quickest time of 1m 25.899s.
No other driver was able to break the 1m 26s mark, although Piquet GP driver Alberto Valerio tried hard to keep the gap close. This was his first time in the top three this season, ahead of Ocean Racing Technology rookie Alvaro Parente.
Grosjeans team mate and current championship leader, Vitaly Petrov had his worst qualifying of the season and will line up sixth. Asked if he was happy to have his team mate further back, Grosjean replied: At the moment it is so close that every point is important in the championship - and to get pole means to hopefully win. But I try not to concentrate too much on everyone else, I just try and aim for a good lap.
Jerome DAmbrosio was also very happy with fourth, his best qualifying of the season so far. Looking ahead to tomorrows race he said: With the English weather here it is always interesting. I am used to it as I am from Belgium but we will see tomorrow. Hopefully we can keep up the hard work and perform well.
Lucas Di Grassi was fifth quickest ahead of Petrov, with Nico Hulkenberg and Javier Villa on the fourth row. It was another disappointing qualifying for Ricardo Teixeira, who again failed to qualify within the 107 percent marker.
Travelling is something I tend to do a lot, and in the last year I have seen my fair share of airports. When I arrived at Edinburgh airport this morning at 7am the notion of here we go again should have been what I felt. However, for the first time in almost a year, I was waiting to board the plane and that childlike excitement about flying came back.
Arriving at Silverstone a day early gave me extra time to explore my home for the next four days. Even though I have been to this circuit many times before, there is something spectacularly different about being this side of the fence. The fact that I knew this weekend was going to be the first time that I really could combine my two loves was the most amazing feeling in the world. Then again maybe it was just the shiny paddock pass and Bridgestone shirts that really made me giddy.
Thanks to my guide, Peter, and who he referred to as his people, we were able to gain access to the F1 paddock. After a few laps up and down the paddock, and still in sheer shock about the size of the motorhomes, we took to the track. Walking round the tarmac at Silverstone gives a different perspective to that of a spectator and you begin to see how diverse the track really is.
For more on the Bridgestone e-reporter competition, click here.