It was a good weekend for racing. It began on a wet morning in German with the GP3 boys taking to the track, and culminated in a quiet F2 race at Brands Hatch. I didn’t watch much of the F2 today, however, as the F1 race was tense right to the end.
GP3 Rain. But the FIA didn’t start the race under the safety car. Everyone was on full wets as they made their way around. Yesterday’s podium sitter Valtteri Bottas was able to make the most of the conditions as Tom Dillmann and Alex Sims both made excellent gains. Williams reserve Bottas took the win – the tenth winner we’ve had this season in a tight field. Sims managed to get onto the podium for his first points of the weekend, and to become the first driver in 2011 to score over 30 points. He still leads the championship. Third was Nigel Melker, who has been through a points drought since the first two races when he led the championship. He also got the fastest lap, having pushed through the rain to make incredible gains on Sims.
The other points scorers were Pal Kiss, Dillmann (who started 22nd) and Calado.
GP2 It began wet but dried out. AirAsia tried a risky strategy of staying out on the wet tyres for longer than everyone else, but it failed them as they were losing 9s per lap by the time they switched. Valsecchi collided with Palmer on his pit exit, which means he has a penalty in Hungary of five places on the grid.
By the end it was a dramatic battle for the win with Grosjean, Bianchi and Filippi in the top three. Grosjean won that battle, with his fellow Frenchman in second and Filippi third in his 101st race.
Behind them, Vietoris came from 23rd to 4th after some good calls from Racing Engineering – who only had one driver to worry about after Clos went off the track at turn 5 after contact with van der Garde (who also retired). Adam Carroll managed to finish 5th from 15th, picking up two points on his return to GP2. In sixth, Carlin managed to get the final point with Max Chilton after Bird and Ericsson’s scrap made them lose out.
F2 Bortolotti was on pole with Pineiro in second and Clarke third. Pineiro pushed his way into the lead and stayed there, though the other two were close behind. There were several battles down the field, and Brundle and Monras both ended up at the back after spins.
Mihai Marinescu enjoyed battling with Tobias Hegewald, and they finished fourth and fifth. Armaan Ebrahim magnificently held off Zanella for sixth. Ebrahim had also had a battle with Russian Max Snegirev, who ended up retiring after crashing off the track.
Eighth was Benjamin Lariche, who has really been shining this weekend. Monras managed to come back to 9th in the final lap after a battle with Jordan King. King in his final F2 race this season came 10th.
F1 Vettel got stuck behind the Hamilton, Webber, Alonso trio and from there his race was over. Meanwhile the front three spent most of the time in close competition, showing just how even it is between the top three teams at this stage of the season. Any of them could have won, and Webber led his first laps of the race. But in the end Hamilton pulled ahead. The Ferrari came second, and the Red Bull came third. In fourth, jumping Massa in a last-lap pit stop, was Vettel. Massa had held off Vettel for fourth all the way up to that point, the Brazilian doing an excellent job.
Further back, Adrian Sutil started 8th and finished 6th. He was helped by Button retiring with hydraulics issues, but it was still a good race for the German. He’s helped Force India to retake 7th in the constructors’ championship. Seventh and eighth were the two Mercedes drivers, with Schumacher behind Rosberg. In ninth was Kobayashi, who had started 17th – boosted one place after Buemi was relegated to the back with irregular fuel. Tenth was Vitaly Petrov.
Heidfeld was another retiree, having been shunted off the track by Buemi on the ninth lap just as he was due to receive a drive-through for hitting Di Resta on the first lap. The final retirees were Liuzzi with an electrical issue, and Barrichello with fuel supply issues.
Next race, Buemi has a 5-place grid penalty for causing Heidfeld’s crash. That’s in just a week’s time at the Hungaroring. Meanwhile, F2 takes its summer break but will return at the Red Bull Ring at the end of August.