|The 2011 GP2 Series gets underway this weekend at the Istanbul Park Circuit in Turkey and once again this most competitive of championships will be supporting the F1 World Championship.
The 5.338 km Istanbul Park circuit was built in 2005 and soon gained a reputation for being one of the best tracks in the world with its combination of 14 very different corners and fast straights where F1 cars can reach speeds of over 200 mph (320 kmh). The most famous corner, appreciated by both drivers and spectators, is Turn 8 which is a fast sweeping corner compared by some to the legendary Eau Rouge at Spa Francorchamps. Unusually, compared to most circuits, the track is raced in an anti-clockwise direction.
Racing Engineering can look back on some very successful races at Istanbul Park and it is also the race track where Dani Clos celebrated his first GP2 victory in 2010. However, victories from the past are no guarantee and therefore Racing Engineering's president, Alfonso de Orléans-Borbón, is expecting hard work for the upcoming weekend mainly due to the new Pirelli tyres, which the teams are still learning more about with each kilometre the cars are on track.
Following on from a successful end to the 2011 GP2 Asia Championship and some very productive pre-season testing Spain’s Racing Engineering and its two drivers, Dani Clos and Christian Vietoris who both have the ability to win, are very motivated to get the season underway.
Racing Engineering is looking to be a very competitive force in 2011. What do you think are the particular strengths the team has?
The main is the team as a whole. All its members, including the drivers, know each other for some time now. This allows everyone to interact easily with each other. Workflow and ideas are more efficient. That's what a team is all about, people working together to achieve a single goal, which in our case is to win as many championships as possible. And with 11 Team and Driver Championship Titles in less than 10 years, it's not a bad record, regardless the category.
Racing Engineering has a very strong driver pairing in Christian Vietoris and Dani Clos. What do you think can be expected from them during the 2011 GP2 Main Series?
Well, with such a pairing, we could be fighting for the Team's Championship, which would not be a bad result. But our main focus is the Driver's Championship. Both drivers have the ability and the talent to win it. So our work will be to attain this goal. Don't forget that Chris Vietoris has fought for the title in his previous championships in his second year. Will he be able to pull it off in 2011? Maybe it will be the extremely talented Dani Clos to win instead? Either way, and like always, both drivers get exactly the same level of commitment and service within the team, so both have the tools to allow their talent to pull it off.
Whom do you regard as the main competitors of Racing Engineering this season, which team and which driver are the ones to beat?
I think we will be fighting until the end of the championship with Jules Bianchi. He is considered a favourite. So it won't be easy, but won't give up until the end since we have two drivers who are perfectly capable of winning it. But generally everyone else in the championship is a driver we want to beat on track, and each race weekend will be special. I think this year, reliability will also play an important part in helping the championship winning driver achieve it. The current cars, while quicker and even more spectacular, need to be maintained perfectly to avoid them stopping our in the track.
It's the first time the GP2 Main Series is not kicking off in Barcelona. This year's first round will take place in Istanbul, a track Racing Engineering has always been very successful at. What are the expectations for the first round? Timetable:
Hard work! Since we are going there with new Pirelli tyres, we have to make sure that our previous information can be of use. With Pirelli taking over from Bridgestone, which were fantastic tyres to work with, everything changes. It's the same problem for everyone, so it really depends on who finds the right solution before the others. Not easy, but we spent this winter working on it. So ask me Sunday and I will have a better idea of where we stand. But regardless what happens, everyone in the team is very motivated to get the season going.
Qualifying: 06 May 2011 12:55:00 GMT +1
Race 1: 07 May 2011 12:40:00 GMT +1
Race 2: 08 May 2011 08:35:00 GMT +1