GP2 Malaysia Race Preview
The newly rebranded Caterham Racing embark on the first race of the GP2 season this weekend in Malaysia, the first home race of the season for the Anglo-Malaysian team. The unique atmosphere around one of the most technical circuits of the calendar is a favourite amongst drivers, with the combination of long high-speed straights and tight twisting complexes making the track a tough challenge, but wide enough to create plenty of overtaking opportunities.
Following six days of testing in Jerez and Barcelona the series joins Formula One for the second Grand Prix of the year, with the team’s drivers Giedo van der Garde and Rodolfo Gonzalez both looking forward to the first race of the year in the sweltering Malaysian conditions.
Phill Spencer “I think the whole team is looking forward to getting back to racing. Winter testing went very well with Giedo on the pace straight away and Rodolfo and getting up to speed quickly. We have been working hard on all elements of our race weekends over the winter, in particular focusing on our pitstops, and we have a lot to look forward to in our second season. I feel more confident this time around. The organisation, procedures and the car are second nature to us and if we start this season as we did in 2011 we are in good shape and should be heading for podiums.”
Rodolfo Gonzalez “I am really excited to be in Malaysia for the first event of the season, particularly because the weather here is nice and warm, just like home! After the tests in Spain I have been focusing on all aspects of my race weekend and I am looking forward to putting it all into practice here – my driving, qualifying strategy, the set ups – we just have to get right and put it all together. We want to see progress this weekend and qualify as far up the grid as possible – that’s a reasonable goal and one that gives us something to aim for.
“The track here is good – there are some tough braking points and as the track temperature today was 48 degrees it will definitely be tough on the tyres. It will be interesting to see if people fall off the pace due to tyre degradation during the races this weekend and strategy will be even more important here, especially with the use of the new tyre compounds. Whatever happens, I am sure the competition is going to be as tough as ever and we’ll do the best job we can to fight, right from day one.”
Giedo van der Garde “I am feeling pretty confident and the team is too. We had six very good, productive days of testing and I feel happy with where we are at the moment. I raced here a long time ago and personally I think this is a nice track to compete on. The surface is very smooth and it’s pretty technical – a lot of the corners blend into one another and it doesn’t have a lot of the long straight / slow corner we see elsewhere, so it’s pretty different to the tracks we have been testing at. You have to be fit here because of the heat and humidity and this will have a big effect during the race, but I’m feeling really good – I’ve been training hard and I’m sure I’ll deal with the heat just fine. The most important thing now is to be at the front in qualifying and from there work hard on the race.”
Humphrey Corbett “I am really looking forward to this weekend. We have prepared for this race extremely well and I am very happy with how our cars are performing in both qualifying and race trim. We have done some very quick pit stops recently, but we need to be more consistent – every second counts so we have been working hard on making sure we can be the best in the pitlane at every aspect of a race weekend. The drivers seem happy in qualifying and race modes and it will be very interesting to see during races who has done their homework and who manages to look after their tyres well. Many of the teams seemed to be doing a lot of qualifying runs in testing and not many long runs. We took the opposite approach so I am keen to see what happens here where managing the tyres will be key to successful races.
“Last season GP2 was very new to me, I have been here many times in the past with Formula One and know the track well, so now with a season under our belt I feel a lot more relaxed approaching this race. We have good people right across the team, two good drivers and a lot of reasons to be positive about the year ahead.”