x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Filippi seeking an historic first on Yas Island podium

The 2009-10 GP2 Asia series starts this weekend and the Meritus driver Luca Filippi is confident he can emulate last week's performance in testing.

Luca Filippi, a former F1 test driver, will go into today's practice sessions looking to shave vital seconds off his lap time.
Luca Filippi, a former F1 test driver, will go into today's practice sessions looking to shave vital seconds off his lap time.

ABU DHABI // The 2009-10 GP2 Asia series starts this weekend and the Meritus driver Luca Filippi is confident he can emulate last week's performance - where he finished fastest in pre-season testing - to become the first driver to stand on top of the podium at Yas Marina. Filippi, a former test driver with Honda Racing and Super Aguri F1, will go into today's two practice sessions looking to shave vital seconds off his lap time and gain invaluable knowledge of the 5.5km track.

"It's looking good for both me and my teammate [Diego Nunes], testing was great and we were consistent. The cars looked fast and the team this year is very strong and experienced," said the Italian. "We were fast from the beginning so this gives you confidence. It is easier when everything starts well and we are improving session by session. We finished fastest so we really couldn't have done any better."

The winner of the two-part GP2 Asia race - tomorrow and Sunday - will be presented on Sunday afternoon, approximately five hours before the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix winner has his name engraved in history. Filippi is hence hoping to be the first driver crowned a champion on Yas Island. "A win is certainly possible, we know we can win and we will be fighting for the top position," he said. "Of course, you never know what will happen in qualifying - that is so important - but we are there and we are looking forward to the race and scoring many points. To be first would be great, but I must just focus on the race and not what may happen afterwards."

Meritus's main competition is likely to come from iSport's Davide Valsecchi, who finished 0.2secs behind Filippi in the final afternoon test last weekend, while the Barwa Addax Team are also sure to be fighting for first. The inaugural GP2 Asia season in 2008 was won by Romain Grosjean, who now partners Fernando Alonso at Renault, while last year saw the Toyota test driver Kamui Kobayashi clinch the title. Kobayashi made his Formula One debut in Brazil earlier this month following the injury to Timo Glock. He will also compete in this weekend's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae