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Apr 08, 2014 - 08:06 PM
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2014 GP2: Arden International - Bahrain
Posted by: newsla on Apr 08, 2014 - 08:00 PM
GP2 News
2014 GP2: Arden International - Bahrain

** The first round of the 2014 GP2 Championship opened at the Bahrain International Circuit in the Middle East this weekend. The Championship is now in its 10^th Season.


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Both Arden drivers, Austrian-born Rene Binder, in his second year of GP2 and Brazilian rookie, Andre Negrao had an educational weekend in the desert.

The Free practice session ran for 45minutes, a change for the new season. Despite the low grip from the dirty track, both Arden drivers had a good session, sitting sixth & seventh at the half way mark. A red flag interrupted the second run with three minutes of the session remaining, however, Andre finished in seventh but Rene had dropped to p20 unable to better his early lap time.

For the first time at Bahrain International Circuit the Qualifying session was held in the evening under the new flood lights and the option (soft) tyre was the choice of the field. Both Rene and Andre set their quickest time on the final push lap of their first set of tyres. After coming in for fresher softs, the duo went out again managing to secure their quickest lap times of the session just before a red flag. Andre lined up 14^th and Rene 17^th for Race One, within eighth tenths of pole.

The feature race saw Rene start on the harder tyre, opting for a longer race before pitting, whilst Andre selected to begin on option tyre. Both had a reasonable start off the line, however Andre was caught at Turn 1 and had contacted with Facu Regalia (Hilmer Motorsport) damaging his front wing. Andre pitted on lap 6 for all four fresh primes and new nose, although he pushed on throughout the race the tyre degradation was too high and he crossed the line in twentieth. Rene, running the prime tyres early managed to make headway mid-race. He motored past his rivals, making his quick mandatory stop on lap 19. He pressed through the field to climb from seventeenth to finish ninth, picking up his first two points of the season.

Both Rene and Andre started on the hard tyre for the Sprint Race and had improved starts from Saturday’s race, making up several places into Turn 1. However, the management of the tyres in this sun drenched race was key and combined with this abrasive track the duo were unable to make substantial progress. Andre finished eighteenth and Rene ninth, adding another point to his weekends tally.

Rene: “The morning practice session was hard, the track was dirty and without any rubber. I experienced a lot of oversteer in the session and finished p20. Qualifying was really close, I had a nine-tenth gap to P1. The car was good, we only made slight changes from the practice session to qualifying. We ran both sets of soft tyres in the session but it was really hard to get the time out of the tyres.

The first laps of Race One were not great, I wasn’t able to gain any position, I fell back to p19. Our race pace was good, especially on soft tyres in the last ten laps, I gained a lot of positions here. The car felt better on soft tyres. It was a pity we didn’t get p8, so we could have had the reverse pole for Race two. I think if I had the opportunity to push in the beginning it would’ve been possible to gain p8 earlier in the race.

I got a good start in Race Two and a good first lap. I think I could have pushed harder early on in this race, only after ten laps I was catching up with the others. I thought I had something left in the rubber in the last laps, so I couldve used that before. In the last three laps I had a big fight and finally I got one position from Arthur Pic, so I could score one more point. We learned a lot this weekend, we can still improve in some areas, but I’m now looking forward to Barcelona.”

Andre: “For the practice session, the track was very dirty when we started and I had no grip at all. It was really difficult to feel the grip and the car limit, so we had to change the setup in the beginning, to help me with my braking. I managed a good complete lap and finished the session p7, just five-tenths from pole. I was happy with that.

Again for Qualifying, we had softer springs on the rear to help a little bit more on the traction and turning the car. For the first set of tyres I pushed a lot to feel the grip of the track and I came in and we made some small changes to lower the car. We put on a new set of tyres so I pushed to the limit and I finished p14, but I have to improve for Qualifying in Barcelona.

For Race One the start was hard, I didn’t have space to put the car into Turn 1 and I had pressure from Facu Regalia, we had contact and broke my front wing. This pushed me off track and I lost many positions. After this, I really locked front wheels and flat spotted the tyre so I had to pit to change front wing and tyres, after this the tyre degradation was so high I couldn’t make up any positions.

Race Two I had a good start, but I had Raffaele Marciello stall on the start in front of me, so I lost some seconds to avoid him. I was too conservative for the first five laps, but towards the end I was pushing hard but unfortunately the guys in front were too far in front and it was hard to overtake. This race was good to learn about the car and learn about the tyres. I used the race as a test. I feel mixed about the race weekend. I am a rookie, so I have to learn about the car about the races. I am ready to push to Barcelona.”

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