The Bridgestone e-reporter GP2 diary - Europe 23 Aug 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 Europe, its Joao Filipe from Portugal
Sunday diary - it is not going to be easy
I am watching the cars on the television inside the Bridgestone truck and suddenly I hear Alvaro Parente saying that the race is not going to be easy. But how is this possible if the Portuguese driver is inside the car and you cannot hear the conversations between drivers and teams on the GP2 broadcasting?
Well, today I had a really unique opportunity that is not going to be easy to repeat. The Ocean Racing Technology Team lent me one of their team radios so I could listen to the conversations between the drivers and the team. I must say that it was really awesome! And I would like to thank them a lot.
The race was very confusing at the beginning but, after a few laps, I was very calm and there were no big surprises. Although there were a lot of crashes, overtaking manoeuvres and laps with the safety car, in the end the drivers on the podium were the same as yesterday but in different positions. This meant I was interviewing the same drivers from the top three to collect their first thoughts about the race today. However, this was good because they already knew me and I could talk to them easily and knew what to ask.
Now that I am about to leave the GP2 paddock, I have to say how surprised I am at how quickly the teams pack up but, before they go home, they will have to make a stop in Belgium for the next round of GP2 in Spa-Francorchamps.
For my final words I would like to say that I am very grateful to Bridgestone for giving me this opportunity to be part of the GP2 paddock for three days and for welcoming me so well.
Sunday race report - Hulkenberg's law
Nico Hulkenberg was a happy man at the end of the second GP2 race in Valencia. He scored 18 points during the weekend and now has a 20-point lead over Vitaly Petrov in the championship.
Although the first lap was problematic for some drivers, Hulkenberg did well. The German started from seventh and, after the start, he was in third behind Kamui Kobayashi and Roldan Rodriguez. Kobayashi had to stop because of a damaged front wing and Rodriquez hit the wall after an attempt to pass Kobayashi and retired.
After three laps Hulkenberg made it into first place and, when the safety car after Rodriguez's crash left the track, the German streaked ahead of his rivals, achieving the best lap time of the race. It was a very easy race compared to yesterday, he said. I found a good braking point in the second corner, kept out of trouble and picked the inside line. Then I just made it my race. Now 20 points ahead of Petrov in the championship, Hulkenberg considered it to be a very good weekend.
Sergio Perez secured second position after his third place on Saturday. Most of the race the Mexican was under pressure from Petrov who was just behind him. It was a good race, said Perez. I am happy with the podium for the team, but there is still work to do.
Petrov was happy at the end of the race. He put in some good overtaking manoeuvres until he got behind Perez. Everything was good, he said. But it was a funny race because I overtook a lot of cars. I didnt pass Perez but I didnt want to take any risks because I have to think about the championship. It was a good weekend but not perfect as we lost points to Hulkenberg, but well see what happens in the next races.
The championship continues next weekend at Belgiums Spa-Francorchamps circuit and it seems, more than ever, the fight will be between Petrov and Hulkenberg.
Saturday race report - Petrov: I always believed I could win
On Saturday Vitaly Petrov was smiling on the podium. The Russian had left the problems of Friday's qualifying behind him and achieved his second victory of the season. It took only two corners for the Russian to prove he could win the race, but Nico Hulkenberg did not make it easy. At the start Hulkenberg was the leader from pole position, but then the German went wide and Petrov took the lead, which he kept until the end of the race.
The race was fantastic, said Petrov. I passed him in the second corner and the brakes and tyres were good. On the second stint the tyres were good but there were problems with the brakes. Petrov admitted that Hulkenberg gave him a hard time, adding: at times it was difficult but by the end I felt in control.
Hulkenbergs mistake in the second corner made him fall into third place. Then the German moved up into second, but he was unable to pass Petrov despite his best efforts. I went wide at the corner because Petrov was a little close and I had to turn late, he said. I was thinking for a long time whether I should try to take the corner and then I decided I should, but it was really tight and I went wide.
However, Hulkenberg has still scored more points than Petrov so far this weekend because he gained pole position and the fastest lap of the race.
Sergio Perez will remember Valencia for a long time. After a difficult season the Mexican finally achieved a podium in the main GP2 Series. Despite this result, a happy Perez admitted that the team still have a lot of work to do.
The GP2 feature race in Valencia was very exciting, with plenty of spins and overtaking. However, the action was delayed because there were two warm-up laps due to the stalling of two cars on the start line.
Saturday diary - thats not a truck; its a moving disco!
I passed through the turnstiles and I was in a place that I have been dreaming about since I was a child. However, at that moment, I wasnt feeling as I imagined I would. Instead I was feeling very, very surprised...
Today I had the opportunity to have lunch in the F1 Bridgestone motorhome and I must say that the F1 paddock is really amazing. The motorhomes are not like trucks at all. They are living houses with lots of style. Red Bull's motorhome really impressed me. It was more like a moving nightclub and, to be honest, the first thing that came to mind was a disco that I have visited in Benidorm.
But returning to the media lunch it was great because I had the opportunity to talk with two journalists who have been working in F1 racing for a long time. It was a very pleasant lunch. I also must say that the Bridgestone cook is really good.
However, most of my day was not spent in the F1 paddock. I talked with Jerome d'Ambrosio in the morning for a preview of Spa - the next GP2 race. It was great to hear a driver talking about how it feels when you are at the limit in Eau Rouge and Raidillon - two of the most well known corners in motorsport.
In the afternoon I interviewed Hirohide Hamashima, the Director of Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development. He explained to me the main differences between race car tyres and road car tyres. It was very interesting.
As an e-reporter your day never stops. After talking with Hamashima I returned to the GP2 paddock to watch a very exciting GP2 race and collect the drivers first words afterwards. I am really enjoying this opportunity. As someone who loves motorsport and journalism it is fantastic to have the chance to combine the two.
See you tomorrow...
Qualifying report - a one-man show at Valencia
At Valencias qualifying session the championship leader Nico Hulkenberg demonstrated that he is currently the man to beat in the GP2 Series.
The German took pole-position by almost half a second and only Vitaly Petrov seemed in with a chance to beat his times. But not for long, as the Russians car's had problems and he took second place. Lucas di Grassi achieved third position for Saturdays starting grid.
In the first stint Petrov was in the lead with a time of 1m 45.875s, leading from di Grassi by almost half a second. It looked like the Russian was the man to beat but then Hulkenberg made his first serious attempt to get pole and achieved a time of 1m 45.357s, giving his rival plenty to worry about.
With 12 minutes left to the end of the session most of drivers were getting ready for their second stint, but Luca Filippi lost control of his car at Turn 20 and had a massive crash. Fortunately he was unharmed, but the session was stopped because there was oil on the track and the tyre wall had to be rebuilt.
The second stint was disappointing for Petrov who had an electrical problem. The Russian felt that without this problem he could have beaten Hulkenberg because he was very close to the GP2 Series leader. However, not everybody was unhappy and Hulkenberg achieved an even faster lap time of 1m 45.025s, which confirmed his pole-position. In fact the German admitted that Petrov was closer to him than it looked on the results sheet.
After Fridays qualifying session Hulkenberg and Petrov look to be the two main candidates to win Saturdays feature race.
Friday diary - where is everybody?
The GP2 paddock is a vibrant place. There are always people everywhere and they always have a task to do. At first the paddock seems confusing, but once you get to know it you realise how things work and the organization behind all the teams. But, if you happen to arrive at a GP2 paddock during a qualifying session, then you will probably ask yourself the question: where is everybody?
While the cars are on the track everybody is in the pits or in front of a TV screen watching what is going on and how the drivers are doing. At this moment the paddock looks like an abandoned city. However, my first day as an e-reporter was unforgettable because of several other reasons.
First of all I feel like I am living a dream, since I have always wanted to spend time with drivers in the paddock to ask them about their performances and their cars. The great atmosphere between the different drivers and teams surprised me, because when they are in the cars they are fighting to get to the top, but in the paddock they are all very nice to each other and very friendly.
Today I have really learnt a lot during my interviews. Being part of the Bridgestone crew has been great and I feel very welcome. I am really looking forward to tomorrow so I can continue my work here and develop my journalistic skills.
For more on the Bridgestone e-reporter competition, click here.