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The Bridgestone e-reporter GP2 diary - Hungary 26 Jul 2009

Bridgestone e-reporter finalist Tim Biesbrouck with GP2 driver Luca Filippi, Hungarian Grand Prix, 24 July 2009 © Bridgestone Bridgestone e-reporter finalist Tim Biesbrouck with with iSport team manager Paul Jackson, Hungarian Grand Prix, 25 July 2009 © Bridgestone Bridgestone e-reporter finalist Tim Biesbrouck watching the Formula One practice session, Hungarian Grand Prix, 24 July 2009 © Bridgestone Bridgestone e-reporter finalist Tim Biesbrouck at the drivers' signing session, Hungarian Grand Prix, 25 July 2009 © Bridgestone Bridgestone e-reporter finalist Tim Biesbrouck with GP2 driver Romain Grosjean, Hungarian Grand Prix, 25 July 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 Hungary, it’s Tim Biesbrouck from the Netherlands…

Sunday diary - My national anthem ends an exciting weekend
Sunday passed by quickly after we drove down ‘Bernie Avenue’ for the last time to the circuit. I had a lot of writing to do and the GP2 sprint race to watch. Just like the last two days, the GP2 race was exciting to watch with some close battles. And, in the end, it finally all came together for my fellow countryman Giedo van der Garde, who won his first race in the series. It was nice to hear the Dutch national anthem!

If I look back on the weekend then I can conclude it was a busy one, but I’ve gained so much experience in writing, interviewing and learning about what Bridgestone is doing at the races. Also the atmosphere was incredible - both within the Bridgestone team and in the GP2 paddock everyone was easy to talk to and fun. This weekend gave me a real insight of what’s it’s like to be a reporter and one thing is for sure: I was really enjoying it.

It’s a shame the weekend went so quickly. I’d like to thank Bridgestone for giving me this unique opportunity to get a real look behind the scenes. In particular I’d like to thank the Bridgestone staff for organising and supporting me tremendously. I hope I can continue to my work in a professional motorsport environment like this, because it just was fantastic!

Sunday race report - Dutch anthem for Giedo van der Garde at the Hungaroring
Giedo van der Garde scored his maiden win in the GP2 sprint race after overtaking Davide Rigon at the start and holding off Luca Filippi for the rest of the race. “This is a big boost for everybody after some tough weekends,” the flying Dutchman said after the race. “I didn’t make any mistakes and kept focused. Now we only need to improve our qualifying and I think it will all come together.” Lucas di Grassi made his way on to the podium and finished just in front of Romain Grosjean who started from tenth.

The race started with a stunning opening lap by van der Garde, while polesitter Rigon tried to hold off the rest of the field. But soon the Trident driver was forced into retirement after a collision with Pastor Maldonado. The Venezuelan was penalized with a drive-through penalty, but he soon crashed out of the race. “I tried to overtake Rigon,” he said afterwards. “But he didn’t see me and we collided - it was a shame.”

Filippi was now in second place, in front of team mate Javier Villa. Di Grassi took fourth with his mirrors full of Grosjean, who put in a brilliant first lap after starting from tenth. Soon both Filippi and Villa where closing in on the Dutchman. The Italian couldn’t find a way past although he got a chance when the safety car was brought out due to a mistake by Ricardo Teixeira. The Trident driver spun and had a go at rally-driving over the gravel trap, putting gravel all over the track.

The safety car neutralized the race for three laps. After the restart, Villa went wide and let both di Grassi and Grosjean past. At the same time Filippi attacked van der Garde and continued the battle for the final ten laps, but didn’t find a way through. “Giedo was getting better out of the corners,” Filippi said. “So it was hard for me to overtake. But I’m happy with podium and I drove the fastest lap.”

Saturday race report - Hulkenberg continues apace with race win
Nico Hulkenberg won Saturday’s GP2 feature race by 15 seconds. After a great start from fifth, the German driver managed to pass Lucas di Grassi and Javier Villa. “After my move on di Grassi, I kept my foot down and created a comfortable gap”, Hulkenberg said. Di Grassi and Villa were in second and third when the flag dropped.

Chaos was there from the start when Vitaly Petrov pushed Andreas Zuber off track. Less than a second later, Sergio Perez hit Alberto Valerio from behind. With multiple cars spinning, Luiz Razia and Roldan Rodriguez were also involved, forcing five drivers into retirement. “It was a stupid accident. Zuber went off and Perez flew over my car,” said a disappointed Valerio. Only Petrov continued but didn’t finish due to car troubles.

Initially di Grassi held his lead from pole, but Villa and Hulkenberg started to attack. Pitstops provided an opportunity to pass with Villa pitting first. Hulkenberg followed and left the pits in front of Villa. Di Grassi came in a lap later then struggled with cold tyres on his exit. Hulkenberg charged ahead and overtook. Villa was close, but couldn’t attack the Racing Engineering driver because Pastor Maldonado was close behind him.

Meanwhile, Romain Grosjean climbed up from last position to tenth, but it wasn’t easy due to a fight with Edoardo Mortara. “I got stuck behind Mortara,” said the French driver. “And couldn’t find an opening. I pushed from the beginning until the last lap but a top eight finish wasn’t possible.”

While Hulkenberg pulled away, the battle for points continued with Villa and Maldonado. In sixth place Davide Valsecchi put Luca Filippi under pressure and, with only four laps to go, the Italian drivers switched positions after a formidable move by Valsecchi. In the last stages Davide Rigon fought Giedo van der Garde for seventh, but didn’t succeed. This puts Rigon in pole position for Sunday’s sprint race.

Thanks to his victory, Hulkenberg now leads the championship with 57 points, followed by Grosjean (42) and Petrov (41).

Saturday diary - Where is the pause button?
Saturday was probably the busiest day of the weekend with a very tight schedule and many things to do, like recording interviews, witnessing a GP2 drivers’ signing session from behind the scenes and having lunch with other motorsport journalists. They were all highlights of the day and I wished I could have pushed the pause button so I could enjoy all these interesting and funny moments a little bit longer.

After getting an early breakfast and a few cups of coffee to wake me up, my day started with an interview with the Bridgestone GP2 team leader. It was interesting to get an insight into the logistics behind the Bridgestone tyre management at the circuit. There are strict rules: one of them is that all tyres need to be taken back to the factory in Langley. And if one of them is seen on eBay? They will track it down immediately and there will be trouble!

The drivers’ signing session that followed was a great opportunity to see what GP2 does for fans. Straight after that I had an interview with iSport International team manager Paul Jackson. We spoke not only about the team, but also about his thoughts on entering Formula One racing.

Lunch with some more experienced journalists was both interesting and funny. Joe Saward told many stories I’ve never heard before and that was really amusing. And Dutch journalists Linda and Gerard gave a real insight of their work in the Formula One paddock.

The first GP2 race started after only an hour of free writing. It was an exciting event with lots of crashes, thrilling battles and even overtaking (!) on the tight and twisty Hungaroring circuit. I really enjoy it here and, although I’m looking forward to the sprint race on Sunday, it will mean there is only one morning left before returning to Holland. I don’t want to leave!

Qualifying report - Title contenders on top as Grosjean crashes out
Lucas di Grassi secured pole position for Saturday’s GP2 feature race in Hungary on Friday, staying in front of Vitaly Petrov and Javier Villa. With two of the main title contenders on top, only Romain Grosjean is missing. The French driver made contact with Franck Perera on his first flying lap and will start from the last spot on the grid. Di Grassi was excited with catching pole: “After being second and third fastest in qualifying so many times in the past, I’m very happy to grab my first pole position.”

Similar in style to the two street circuits on this year’s GP2 calendar, overtaking possibilities are a bit limited on the tight and twisty Hungarian track. For this reason qualifying can be the key to a successful weekend. While di Grassi and Petrov didn’t need to worry about their position, Grosjean had something different to deal with.

Just six minutes into the session, the Barwa Addax driver caused a red flag after overtaking Franck Perera while he was on his flying lap. Grosjean, who is currently second in the championship, clipped with his rival when he was entering the corner. Grosjean crashed into the barriers, while Perera also finished his qualifying in the gravel trap.

“I overtook him because he was slow and when we were side by side, he moved to the left and I don’t know for what reason. It’s really disappointing because this was just stupid”, Grosjean said. Perera, however, had another version: “I was slowing down because I was not on a quick lap. Then I went on the outside to let him pass, but he went so close to me and hit my tyres. I’m really annoyed.”

At the time di Grassi was at the top of the timesheets and he improved his time just after the restart of the session. Petrov secured the second spot on the grid after being just 0.066 of a second slower. Villa and Davide Valsecchi will line up on row two of the grid for Saturday’s feature race.

Thursday diary - The heat is on and I’m having fun!
There is probably one thing during the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend that remains the same over the years: the heat. To be honest, as I live on the Dutch west coast, I’m not really used to temperatures of 34°C. But, with all the excitement around me, it doesn’t really matter and I’m having great fun!

As soon as we arrived at the circuit on Thursday I had the chance to see the Formula One paddock for the first time in my life. As expected, the hospitality buildings were amazingly huge and all ‘parked’ on a small ‘Formula One street’ with lots of good-looking people, media and some of the drivers giving interviews. The big F1 stars had crowds around them except for Toyota driver Jarno Trulli – but perhaps I saw him before the paparazzi arrived! Then, back in the GP2 paddock, I had the honour of doing my first interview with Lucas di Grassi.

When I got back to the track on Friday morning, Luca Filippi was waiting to go through my questions. It really surprised me how accessible the drivers were for interviews or just a chat about how their race weekend was going.

I soon noticed that Thursday had only been a warm up for me, as Friday got busier with working on the interviews and the qualifying report in the afternoon. It was an interesting qualifying session with top driver Romain Grosjean crashing out after he made contact with Franck Perera. After running around the paddock collecting some quotes, including some words from a very disappointed Romain and Franck, it was already time to finish my Friday diary.

This first full day has unfortunately passed by so quickly and there are only two days remaining. It promises to be an even busier day on Saturday with a photo shoot, an interesting meeting with one of the team managers, watching the first GP2 race and having lunch with some key international and Dutch journalists. I’m certainly having fun here and I’m also definitely looking forward to everything I will experience over the next two days!

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