Valsecchi determined to clinch 2012 title
19 September 2012
It might look like a done deal, but Davide Valsecchi's 25pt lead in the GP2 Series drivers championship is no assurance that he will walk away from this weekend's final round of the season in Singapore with the title.
For one thing, his current lead opened up in a single weekend at Monza: before that, he'd been tied on points with Arden's Luiz Razia. But two points finishes for him in Italy - including victory in the sprint race - coupled with a disastrous weekend for Razia has given Valsecchi a big advantage this week.
"We raced really well, when it was really important: we showed that we deserved to gain the lead in the championship," said Valsecchi of his last outing, which saw him claim his first win since the amazing hat-trick of victories he won in Bahrain back in April.
"Work always pays off and again I'd like to congratulate the whole DAMS team," said CEO Jean-Paul Driot of the squad's most recent performance at Monza. "Davide was remarkable, and he now has to clinch it in the final round of the season."
Valsecchi said that having the upper hand going into the final weekend certainly made a difference.
"It's important, because I'm leading now, and I'm positive, because my car is fast," he said. "I will go to Singapore, a wonderful place that I have never been to before, and it is a street circuit, where usually I'm strong. So right now I am fine, and I hope to be fine also at the end of the weekend there!"
It's going to be an experience for everyone in the GP2 paddock, as it's the first time that the series has joined F1 at the 5.073km street circuit. That makes it new for everyone this weekend with no historical data to fall back on, and means that a lot of luck will be involved in getting the right set-up in just half an hour of practice before the serious business of qualifying gets underway.
The teams will be issued with sets of soft and supersoft Pirelli tyres for the weekend, mirroring the selection for the F1 teams. As ever, the feature race includes a mandatory pit stop for a change of tyres - and with Singapore having the longest pit lane of the season that could well prove a critical factor in determining the weekend's outcome.
Valsecchi has been involved in GP2 for five seasons now, starting with Durango before moving to Barwa Addax, iSport, Team AirAsia (since renamed Caterham Racing) and now this year DAMS, the team that propelled Romain Grosjean to the 2011 drivers championship. Could winning the GP2 championship propel Valsecchi into F1 as it has done many of those who have emerged victorious in the feeder series?
Valecchi's downplaying any such thoughts, and just keeping his focus on the matter at hand - winning the title. "I've opened up a good lead for the title, but it's not over yet and there are still a lot of points up for grabs. I'm going to stay concentrated and give my all to win this championship," he said.
"Maybe we deserve it at the end of Singapore," he said. "I'm looking forward to going there and to fight for the top position with all the other good drivers here, and I hope to stay with them."
The only man who can stop him is Luiz Razia, and the Brazilian admits that he's up against it this weekend.
"I didn't foresee that the championship situation would become so difficult," he conceded. "It is what it is, though.
"It's time to forget about Monza and concentrate on Singapore," he continued. "The title battle isn't yet over and I will give it my best shot – as I have done throughout the season."
Although this weekend's F1 Grand Prix of Singapore is a night race, the timings for the F1 and GP2 sessions will remain mostly close to their normal slots for European audiences.
Practice is on Friday at 4.45pm local time (9.45am BST), while qualifying will take place at 8pm local time (1pm BST). The 34-lap feature race is the biggest switch of the weekend's schedule, taking place on Saturday at 4pm local time (9am BST) instead of following the later F1 qualifying session.
The 24-lap sprint race on Sunday is at 4.10pm local time (9.10am BST.) All sessions are due to be carried live in the UK on Sky Sports F1.