2012 GP2 Bahrain Preview, Desert Racing

It’s been three weeks since the 2012 GP2 Series season opened in Malaysia.  This first round lived up to everyone’s expectations providing heart-stopping action and stellar performances from both experienced drivers and the young guns.Following strong results in pre-season testing, DAMS’s Davide Valsecchi flew to pole position in Sepang, but it was Luiz Razia who made a better start from P2 and won a lights to flag victory ahead of the Italian. The young Brazilian achieved Arden’s first win since Barcelona Feature Race 2010. Max Chilton and his Carlin team enjoyed a maiden GP2 podium with third place. The next day, the Sprint Race was all about Lotus GP: James Calado and Esteban Gutiérrez locked out the front row, the British rookie controlled the rest of the field from start to finish and thus pocketed his maiden GP2 win ahead of his teammate. Another first was for newcomer ace Felipe Nasr who celebrated his first GP2 podium finish.Razia currently leads the drivers’ standings seven points ahead of Valsecchi. Calado stands in third place, one point ahead of Gutiérrez and Nasr, with Chilton and Fabio Leimer in tow.All twenty-six drivers are back in action this week at the Bahrain International Circuit. The 5.412km track will host the second and third rounds of the 2012 GP2 Series season in searing temperatures and sometimes sandy conditions. It will be the first time that the GP2/11 cars will take to the Bahraini track. The races (32 and 23 laps) will be run on Hard (Prime) and Medium (Option) Pirelli tyres.Pirelli’s racing manager Mario Isola commented: “The GP2 Series is of vital importance as it is supplying the next generation of Formula One stars. Our GP2 team travelled out to Bahrain for the race that was scheduled last year, so although the race did not go ahead we still have some data on the track – using the information we gained from Formula One testing as well – that will be very useful. With the high temperatures and significant lateral loads that are common in Bahrain, the tyres will definitely have that their work cut out this weekend. So it will be down to the drivers to look after them as best as they can, as they have the same basic characteristics as the Formula One tyres, with deliberate degradation and a performance drop-off beyond a certain number of laps.”There will be two driver changes this week: Dani Clos replaces Josef Kral at Barwa Addax Team whilst Brendon Hartley takes over Jon Lancaster at Ocean Racing Technology.

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