|This weekend sees the final round of the 2016 GP2 Series as the teams and drivers travel to Abu Dhabi to race on the Yas Marina circuit. It will be an important weekend for Racing Engineering as its two drivers, Norman Nato and Jordan King, will be looking to end the season on a positive note and finish as high as possible in the final Driver standings while the Spanish team will want to secure the runner-up position in the Team Standings.
Below Racing Engineering’s Technical Director looks forward to the weekend and explains how the team have prepared for the races.
GP2 is back in Abu Dhabi, where Racing Engineering took second place in the Drivers as well as the Teams Championship last year. Do you think the team can bring home second place in the Team standings this year as well?
Well, that will be our main objective. It is fair to say that Prema have done an outstanding job for their first year in GP2, but it is also fair to say that we didn’t get all the rewards we deserved this year. Keeping our second place would be a good way to finish the season.
There has been quite a long break since the last races in Sepang. How did you take advantage of this time and what does the preparation for the last round look like?
True! Having such a long break after the busy summer is quite unreal but it is like it is. It is probably harder for the drivers to stay sharp as they cannot drive the car for such a long time.
We used this big gap to have a deep look at how the season went, how the setup evolved and to get the conclusions to arrive at the track with the best package possible. Nothing has changed; we just took the opportunity to spend time on in-depth analysis. We also need to prepare for the 3 days of testing so we have been quite busy.
How would you describe the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi and, from an engineering point of view, what are the biggest challenges?
Yas Marina is a special track as each sector is different, and drivers need to approach each one in a different way. It is quite a technical race circuit and we saw last year that the tyre wear can be significant. So, it is all about having a homogeneous package and a car easy to drive at the limit. The track evolves a lot during the weekend as well, so you must constantly anticipate the how and the when.
In Abu Dhabi, GP2 qualifying and the first race are taking place at dusk. What differences are there compared to driving at daylight and is there anything special to consider?
First, the interval between free practice and qualifying is much longer than usual so the steps to take are not necessarily the same. Additionally, the track temperature is lower and the ambient temperature as well so you need to make sure that you are in the good window for the tires. While the track already evolves during the weekend and the evening sessions add another bit of uncertainty to our work and make it a very special weekend for drivers as well as engineers.
With Jordan King in 5th and Norman Nato in 6th position in the championship, do you think they will be able to improve their positions during this last race weekend of the season? What can we expect in Abu Dhabi?
We would like to see both our drivers in the top 5 of the championship, which would be a nice reward for them and for us. We were not lucky with Norman’s engine issue in Spa and in Monaco with the VSC, both cars out of the points in Sepang Race 2, etc. I’m sure that other drivers will say the same, but they genuinely both deserve a place in the top 5. It will not be easy as Sirotkin is quite a way ahead and Ghiotto has had a sequence of very good races, but until Race 2 is finished we will give it our best shot.