APRIL 23, 2005
What on earth was that?
The GP2 series kicked off in Imola on Saturday with a race which left bemused observers wondering what on earth is going on in motor racing. The race was won by Heikki Kovalainen from Jose Maria Lopez and so the Renault Development Driver programme did all right out of the series that features Renault engines and is owned by the man who manages both of them. The racing was the usual blend of wild young men versus under-talented pay-drivers but the big problem was the format.
Things did not get off to a very auspicious start on Friday when 16 of the 24 cars broke down in the course of the first session. The result of this was that Bernie Ecclestone was seen berating series organiser Bruno Michel in parc ferme. As a result of the problems it was decided that the race should start with a rolling start to avoid a situation in which a lot of cars would be left sitting on the grid with broken transmissions. The man on pole position disappeared immediately, Nicolas Lapierre suffering a mechanical failure of some sort. At the end of the first lap a whole group of cars headed into the pits to get one of their two compulsory pit stops out of the way.
And from then on it was simply a question of a lot of cars going around on different strategies before finally everyone had completed the necessary number of stops - which generally were not very exciting as they did not feature tyre changes. The F1 media watched open-mouthed as these pointless exercises mixed up the good guys with the tonks and created overtaking. The people in the grandstands would have been lucky to understand anything that was going on. In the end 13 cars made it to the finish with Kovalainen winning, Lopez second and Scott Speed third. Gianmaria Bruni was fourth and Adam Carroll fifth despite an extra penalty. Neel Jani was sixth. Giorgio Pantano, who led most of the way, retired.
The budgets have nearly doubled this year in comparison to last year and the equipment is under-tested and unreliable. The format is a mess.
It is sad that the sport has come to this.
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