DAMS' Kamui Kobayashi may have been the quickest man on track in the opening race of the second GP2 Asia Series in China, but it was Roldan Rodriguez who claimed victory at the end of 34 laps after the Japanese ran wide in the closing stages.
Kobayashi had snatched the lead towards the end of lap one, scything down the inside of a compliant Rodriguez at the hairpin and appearing untroubled thereafter, save the appearance of the safety car on two occasions.
After the second restart on lap 29, however, the off-season pacesetter overstepped his mark, running wide at turn four and allowing Rodriguez to return to top spot, the Spaniard have stolen pole from Kobayashi at the death in qualifying. The DAMS driver was lucky to regain the track in front of countryman Sakon Yamamoto, holding on thereafter to take second place.
“It's my fault," Kobayashi sighed, "I made a mistake, I know it and it's very frustrating. I had the fastest car but, with the safety car deployed twice, I had to push hard to try and extend the gap to Rodriguez. In the end, though, a second place is not a bad thing. It's always good points, but I know I can win races and that's my unique goal.”
Having been gifted the advantage, Rodriguez upped his pace to ensure that Kobayashi had no chance to retake the lead, crossing the line just over half a second clear of the Japanese driver.
“I'm very happy as I pushed all the way and made no mistake," Rodriguez admitted after taking his first career GP2 win, "On the first lap, Kamui braked later than me. I saw him far from me and when I looked again he was on my side. I chose to let him through rather than close the door and maybe crash. Then we pitted at the perfect time, and the team made a great job.
"For tomorrow, I will start eighth, but I will adopt the same strategy, to do the best I can. Of course, I will try and go for a podium, as I want to leave Shanghai as the leader of the GP2 Asia Series and go home with two trophies.”