Motorsport News - GP2
Racing Engineering takes to the streets in Valencia
21st June 2012
Round 6 of the 2012 GP2 Series takes place this weekend at Valencia and in what seems such a short space of time the season reaches its halfway point.
This year the GP2 Series has already proved to be very competitive, the ten races held so far have seen seven different winners and, with a maximum number of 48 points available each weekend, the race for the Championship is still wide open.
The 5.419 km Circuito Urbano de Valencia comprises of no less than 25 corners and, whilst not as narrow as Monaco, overtaking is difficult and a good grid position is important for a good race result.
Although the last round at Monaco did not produce the results that Racing Engineering were hoping for, both of the team’s drivers, Fabio Leimer and Nathanaël Berthon, were on the pace and Berthon scored points in both the Feature and Sprint Races. The 2011 Valencia weekend saw Racing Engineering score two top 5 finishes and the whole team will be looking to improve on this in 2012.
Below Race Engineer Seb Viger looks forward to the weekend ahead.
- Valencia, just like Monaco, is a track that can only be driven during a GP weekend. What does this mean for you as an engineer?
From an engineering point of view there isn't really a big difference compared to other tracks as in GP2 there is no private testing. Apart from Barcelona, and Silverstone last year, we normally have no chance to test on tracks we race on in the championship. We therefore need to rely on the data collected in previous years and analyse it together with the past races of the current season to adapt the setup to the track requirements. The main difference can be found in the way we approach the event together with the drivers as, at this level of their career, they didn't yet have too many possibilities to race on these non-permanent tracks. They all raced in Barcelona, Silverstone, Hockenheim while being in GP2 or other categories, but not so much on tracks like the Valencia Street Circuit. Also the work done in your driver simulator is different when it comes to non-permanent tracks, so we need to pay a lot of attention on small details: the preparation of the driving, the track walk, etc. Basically the experience of the team-driver-engineer package is crucial during such race weekends.
- And how does Valencia differ from Monaco? What type of track is it?
I would actually say that apart from the walls being so close and both of them being non-permanent tracks, there is little they have in common. Valencia is longer and also wider and therefore the proximity to the walls is less impressive than in Monaco. The layout is quicker and flatter with sectors 1 and 3 being very technical, where it can make a difference, if the driver feels comfortable. There are also similarities with, for example, Bahrain - the big braking zones, some fast corners and the high track temperature.
- What tyre compound will be used during the Valencia weekend and what can be expected given this combination of track and tyres?
Like in Monaco, we will use the Soft and Super Soft compounds. Last year, as in all the previous years, we raced here on the soft tyres. Valencia is known to be quite hard on tyres due to the layout of the track and also the high temperature. Racing with tyres yet another step softer will make tyre wear a crucial point this year. It will be a challenge for drivers and teams, but I have to say so far both our drivers have been very good at managing their tyres and this is a very positive point.
- What did your work consist of after Monaco? Were you busy at the workshop?
Every year there is usually a lot of work to be done on the cars after the Monaco round. Luckily we didn't have lots of damage on our cars, which allowed us to work in a more relaxed way. Both cars were completely stripped, revised and repainted. We also received some new engineering tools, like our new flat surface, which also gave us a bit of extra work. In parallel, we also received our new two floor truck, which will be a massive step forward in terms of working conditions for the entire team when at the race tracks. We are really busy preparing many things, looking into many small details in order to arrive well prepared in Valencia.
There are three weeks between Monaco and Valencia, so we not only prepare for Valencia, but also already start work for Silverstone. This allows more time to study and analyse the data collected and look for possible improvements in the setup. Both drivers, Fabio and Nat, will come to our workshop to prepare for the event in the best way possible, as mentioned before.
-What are your expectations for Valencia? Who will be on top, where do you expect Fabio and Nat to be?
Fabio knows the track quite well and has been very fast so far this season. So we can't see any reason why he shouldn’t be quick here as well. He was really fast on every track so far and without some misfortune we would be much higher up in the rankings. So we need to score big points this weekend to catch up with the leaders. As for Nat, it will be tougher for him as he doesn't know the track. But we saw during the last events that his racing abilities allow him to be a regular point’s contender and even more. As for the other drivers, I can imagine Van der Garde, Valsecchi and Razia being quick again. You also have to factor in the two ART cars. iSport were also doing well in Monaco and we see the field is quite homogeneous this season, so lots of things can happen.
Practice: Fri 22 Jun 2012, 11:55 (GMT+2)
Qualifying: Fri 22 Jun 2012, 15:55 (GMT+2)
Race 1: Sat 23 Jun 2012, 15:40 (GMT+2)
Race 2: Sun 24 Jun 2012, 10:35 (GMT+2)
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