The GP2 series accompanied the F1 roadshow to Barcelona at the weekend, and demonstrated that without the flash toys of KERS and DRS, the Catalunya circuit is as doggedly resistent to an exciting race as it always has been.
The feature race saw Giedo van der Garde pull away cleanly at the start ahead of iSport's Sam Bird and van der Garde's team mate Charles Pic.
But behind them, there had been drama involving Super Nova's Luca Filippi which had started even before the formation lap, when the mechanics had left it so late working feverishly on a problem with the car that left them late leaving the grid, and a team penalty was assured.
As it turned out, the point was moot: the gremlins with the car had not been fixed and Filippi was very sluggish away from the line, causing the cars behind to scatter and trying to veer right across the track. That left too many cars competing over too little track space, and Luiz Razia was the unlucky man out who was pushed out left by Jules Bianchi to clip the back of the sluggish Filippi. That spun Filippi round and across the track - miraculously not collecting anyone along the way - into a crunching impact with the pit all. Razia's front wing was also damaged, and he would eventually retire with mechanical damage.
That put the field behind a safety car for several laps. Dani Clos spent the last lap under the safety car frantically signalling at Max Chilton to pass him, after being advised that he had overtaken Chilton under the yellow flags at the start of the caution and needed to hand back the position. Chilton stayed put, knowing full well that if he did pass behind the safety car then he would be automatically penalised. The two eventually worked things out once racing resumed, but in the meantime had bunched up the field before the restart and allowed the leaders to break away when the safety car came in.
Van der Garde once again got a perfect getaway ahead of Bird, Pic and Romain Grosjean in fourth when the safety car came in. Bird was clearly not all that happy with the handling of his car and he struggled to stay ahead of the clearly fasted Pic, as van der Garde disappeared up the road.
The running order stayed the same until the mandatory round of pit stops, which saw an interesting mixture of two- and four-tyre strategies as the teams sought to learn from the lessons of Turkey where the new Pirelli compounds had surprised everyone with exactly what they could and could not do under race conditions.
Pic went for two rear tyres and got out before Bird after they both came in on lap 16; van der Garde was in next time around but opted for four. More seriously, there was a problem with the rear left tyre spinning while the tyre changer tried to get to work, and it proved a costly delay of some 5s over his team mate: it was all the difference Charles Pic needed to overtake him by the time van der Garde emerged from pit lane.
Technically he wasn't immediately in the lead: Kevin Mirocha was the last car to pit and found himself in the lead of the race just ahead of the Barwa Addax duo, but he politely let them pass as if he were lapped traffic rather than in the lead by rights. Ultimately his late pit stop and general inexperience would indeed lead him to fall a lap off the lead.