Paddock Postcard from the Nurburgring 12 Jul 2009
Despite the cold weather the new Nurburgring has been 'en fete' this weekend, which kicked off with a grand opening ceremony for the redeveloped section of the track which has become a year-round entertainment and business centre. On Thursday, in the Eifeldorf 'Grune Holle' (Eifel village 'Green Hell') the Minister President of Rhineland-Palatinate, Kurt Beck, officiated and then held a media party in celebration.
In the paddock, familiar racing faces were rejoined by the likes of FIA presidential candidate Ari Vatanen, Hans Stuck, Jos Verstappen and karting son Max, Bruno Spengler and Bernd Schneider, plus president of the FIA Senate Michel Boeri.
On-track, Germany's Nico Hulkenberg scored his first victory in GP2. The ART Grand Prix driver was always in control as he took a 14-second triumph over Piquet GP's Roldan Rodriguez and FMSI's Andreas Zuber after making a brilliant start.
Vitaly Petrov of Barwa Addax was fourth from Super Nova's Javier Villa and Ocean Racing Technology's Alvaro Parente. Sergio Perez was eighth and thus starts Sunday's race from pole in his Arden International machine, with Lucas di Grassi alongside for Fat Burner Racing Engineering.
Barwa Addax's series leader Romain Grosjean had a troubled race and now has 40 points to Hulkenberg's 30 and Vitaly's 38.
In Formula BMW Europe, rising Brazilian star and series leader Felipe Nasr took pole for the third time for Eurointernational from Michael Christensen (Mucke Motorsport) and Britain's William Buller (Fortec Motorsport). In Saturday's race, however, Christensen was victorious (for the third time this year) over Nasr, with fast Dutch rookie Robin Frijns (Josef Kaufmann Racing) finishing third after starting seventh.
Buller challenged Nasr going into the first corner but was later given a drive-through penalty while fighting Facu Regalia for third for multiple changes of direction. Nasr starts Sunday's race from pole too, ahead of Buller and Christensen.
There was sporting action of a different kind nearby at the new Lindner Congress & Motorsport Hotel on Saturday night, when Germany's Felix Sturm retained his WBA middleweight world championship after taking a points decision over Armenia's Khoren Gevor. Both fighters visited the track, too.