Nicolas Lapierre took his third A1 Grand Prix victory today, making it five straight wins in a row for A1 Team France. He was followed across the finish line by A1 Team Portugal giving them their first podium of the season, while third place went to A1 Team Brazil.
When the cars crossed the start finish line for the rolling start it was pole sitter France who powered into turn one first, followed by Portugal and Brazil who had moved up from fourth on the grid. However, it was in turn two that the first mishap of the day occurred when the cars of the Czech Republic and South Africa went off into the dirt. South Africa managed to get back on the track but the Czech Republic didn’t and so the safety car was deployed to remove the stricken car.
After the safety car came in at the end of lap three, racing started again but then turn two claimed its second set of victims. This time it was Germany and Mexico who locked wheels and pirouetted off into retirement. The lucky car this time belonged to Italy as the blue machine managed to avoid this accident and continue. The safety car came out again, the cars were retrieved and it was called in at the end of lap seven.
As racing started again, the Netherlands and Switzerland were battling but it was the battle between South Africa and Lebanon on lap nine that saw South Africa pit at the end of the lap with what looked like rear-suspension damage after they banged wheels and Lebanon come in a lap later.
By half way through the race, France had built up a lead of over three seconds but Brazil was trying everything to pass Portugal with just a few tenths separating them. As the race drew to a close it was obvious that the safety car periods had taken its toll so the chequered flag was brought out at the end of 19 laps instead of the full 20. Two cars who failed to pass the flag were Austria and Japan who spun off in unison without contact but the USA car that was following them closely did take the flag despite having to go off the circuit and pass between the stricken cars on the dirt.
Taking pole position for the Sprint race is A1 Team France with Nicolas Lapierre, commenting he said ‘We had fresh tyres for the beginning of the race so I was able to push and open up a gap. The second race will be more difficult as there will be pit stops and a standing start so I have to keep pushing. There is quite a lot of pressure to do well in the next race, but even if we don’t get a win it is important to get a good finish as there isn’t much of a point difference between first and second.’
Taking his first podium of the series, A1 Team Portugal’s Alvaro Parente said: ‘The car was oversteering quite a lot and was hard to drive. We will have to find more grip for the second race. It is hard to keep up with A1 Team France as Nicolas had good speed and new tyres, but we will work on it for the Feature race.’
A1 Team Brazil’s Nelson Piquet Jr said: ‘The car was better than I thought it would be; as we were suffering from a lot of oversteer during practice. I had a good start, but it is a very difficult track and hard to overtake. I wasn’t in sixth gear for very long – only for a short time on the pit straight. I couldn’t get past Alvaro but think that if I had, I would have been a lot closer to Nicolas as there was quite a lot of speed left in the car.’
A1 Team Germany’s Adrian Sutil suffered a dislocated thumb in the incident with A1 Team Mexico but once it was put back into place and strapped by the medical staff, he was pronounced fit to start the Feature race.
The results of the Sprint race are provisional pending ongoing investigations into the various incidents.
1 France Nicolas Lapierre 30.32.582
2 Portugal Alvaro Parente 30.41.281
3 Brazil Nelson Piquet Jr 30.41.677
4 Ireland Michael Devaney 30.45.067
5 Great Britain Robbie Kerr 30.50.055
6 Switzerland Neel Jani 30.52.566
7 Netherlands Jos Verstappen 30.57.138
8 Malaysia Alex Yoong 30.59.418
9 Canada Sean McIntosh 31.00.468
10 Italy Enrico Toccacelo 31.02.402
11 Australia Will Davison 31.03.008
12 Pakistan Adam Khan 31.10.694
13 Russia Roman Rusinov 31.11.600
14 New Zealand Jonny Reid 31.12.A1 Grand Prix6
15 USA Bryan Herta 31.22.492
16 China Tengyi Jiang 31.23.701
17 India Armaan Ebrahim 31.25.335
18 Japan Hayanari Shimoda 18 laps
19 Austria Mathias Lauda 18 laps
20 Lebanon Basil Shaaban 11 laps
21 South Africa Stephen Simpson 8 laps
22 Mexico Salvador Duran 3 laps
23 Germany Adrian Sutil 3 laps
24 Czech Republic Tomas Enge 0 laps
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