Trulli out, Petrov in at Caterham

F1
After months of speculation, when people finally began to think that maybe Caterham would honour Jarno Trulli’s contract, the rumours have come true. The Italian driver, who won at Monaco with Renault and has spent two years with the back-of-the-grid team, has been fired despite taking part in the first F1 test of 2012. He has been replaced by Vitaly Petrov, and there is no doubt that the money has helped. You need money to improve your prospects.
Vitaly isn’t a bad driver, and definitely has potential with Caterham, but Trulli had potential too. It is a shame he – like Rubens Barrichello – wasn’t given the opportunity to retire gracefully. At least Barrichello’s replacement was done honestly by Williams, and the Brazilian seems likely to continue his career in IndyCar. What is there for Trulli?
What is done is done. I think Petrov will do well, and he looks alright in green. Much better than black anyway.

GP2
The SuperNova team have left the GP2 championship after seven years. The British team, who have featured such drivers as Giorgio Pantano, Adam Carroll, Luca Filippi and Mike Conway, will be replaced by Venezuela-sponsored Italian outfit Venezuela GP Lazarus. Team Lazarus took part in Auto GP, last year running with Fabrizio Crestani and Fabio Onidi. The drivers finished 6th and 5th respectively in the championship.

GP3
Two drivers have been signed today. Trident revealed their first driver, Vicky Piria. She will be the first girl to take part in GP3. Hopefully she’ll do well, though she has not scored any wins or podiums so far in her career.
Meanwhile Cypriot Tio Ellinas, who came fourth in the 2010 British FFord season and finished third in Formula Renault UK on equal points with Oli Rowland and after dropping 40 points from his total (Rowland dropped none), comes to GP3 with Marussia Manor Racing. He will partner Dmitry Suranovich and Fabiano Machado.

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Ericsson continues with iSport

GP2’s iSport International team today announced half of their 2012 lineup, along with their two drivers for the final in two weeks’ time. Marcus Ericsson, one half of the team’s lineup this season, will continue to race for them next year and will also participate in the final. Alongside him in Abu Dhabi will be GP3’s Tom Dillmann. As far as I am aware, Tom is the second GP3 driver to be signed up for the final after James Calado.
For the final, Pirelli will be awarding a cash prize to the top two points-scoring GP3 graduates; 15,000 Euros to the best, and 10,000 to the second-best. Hopefully, more GP3 graduates will be signed up to give Tom and James a run for their money.

For the current finals lineup and 2012 lineup, check the links above in the GP2 section.

Adam Carroll is back!

Adam Carroll, the superb Northern Irish driver, has returned to GP2. I first learned about Carroll from my flatmate, who is from the same area of Northern Ireland. It appears that he is replacing Luca Filippi at Super Nova. The Italian will be going off to Scuderia Coloni, who have been lagging behind with young Kevin Ceccon.
Adam started in GP2 with Super Nova, and over the two full seasons and two part seasons – most of 2007 and four races in 2008 – he’s been in he has achieved: five wins (feature: 2; sprint: 3), four second places (feature: 0; sprint: 4), five third places (feature: 3; sprint: 2), one pole (Silverstone feature), three fastest laps (feature: 1; sprint: 2). His best championship finish was 5th in 2005.

Seriously, get this guy in F1 already!

Livery Change for AirAsia

In GP2, there are three teams with similar liveries: Arden, Coloni and AirAsia run in varying amounts of red and white: AirAsia having the most white. Meanwhile, Rapax run in white and black with some red, and there are other liveries that come in red or white. This can get confusing, particularly between Coloni and AirAsia.
So AirAsia have decided to change their livery. From Germany onwards, their cars will be green and yellow to match their sister team Team Lotus. There’s just one slight problem: Lotus ART also run in a very similar green and yellow livery. ART have a connection through Group Lotus. AirAsia’s comes through Team Lotus and Caterham. Both have a valid connection to the historic colours.
What happens next? It does make sense for the F1 team and GP2 team to run in the same livery. But will this cause too much confusion between the teams? How will ART react?
Comparison: new AirAsia chassis, ART’s car

Parente’s back with Carlin

With Mikhail Aleshin still unable to secure a budget for the 2011 GP2 season, Portuguese driver Alvaro Parente – who substituted for Christian Vietoris at Racing Engineering at the last two rounds – is moving to Carlin. Parente took second in the first race at Monaco, being runner-up to Davide Valsecchi, and those eight points place him eleventh in the championship. Carlin, meanwhile, have a total of three points from their number one driver Max Chilton. They won’t get any of Parente’s points – those go to Racing Engineering – but the proven driver should get them some more in their first season of GP2 racing.
Alvaro Parente drove for Carlin in 2004 and 2005 in British Formula Three – the team dominate that series, and he won the driver’s title in his second year. In 2006, he drove for them in Formula Renault 3.5, taking six podiums and three wins. So he’s got ability, and he’s done well with Carlin before so it should be a good match.

The ups and downs of Arden

GP3 tests got underway today in Hungary. In the morning session, the fastest driver was GP3’s youngest ever race winner Mitch Evans. He’s really shining for Arden, who after several years struggling in GP2 are making a comeback. Arden were the kings of Formula 3000 before it became GP2, with Tonio Liuzzi taking the title for them, and in 2005 when boss Christian Horner began moving his focus towards his new job with Red Bull, Heikki Kovalainen came second for them in the first GP2 season.
Heikki Kovalainen won five races for Arden in 2005, taking four pole positions. He also took one of the team’s two fastest laps. His teammate took the other, along with a pole position. Since then they have struggled in GP2. Last year they finished eighth. Here’s a quick summary.

Year

Wins

Poles

Podiums

F. laps

Pts

C’ship

2005

5

5

13

2

126

2nd

2006

1

0

6

1

57

4th

2007

1

0

2

0

44

7th

2008

2

0

6

0

56

6th

2009

1

0

3

3

41

8th

2010

1

1

2

0

32

7th

So far this year, Arden have no wins, no poles, no fastest laps and one podium, with second-placed Josef Kral finishing P2 in the Monaco sprint race. With nine points, the team stands eighth in the championship.
GP3 is looking better, with Mitch Evans the stand out driver. The rookie is currently third in the championship, just five points behind leader Nigel Melker. He, Andrea Caldarelli (who is being replaced) and Nigel Melker are far ahead of the other drivers. Neither of Arden’s other drivers have scored points just yet, but the team stands third in the championship.

Arden is named after the Forest of Arden, an area close to my home in England.You might also recognise the name if you know about Shakespeare. His mother was Mary Arden, and you can visit Mary Arden’s House near Stratford (Warwickshire, not London). Mary Arden’s family owned the forest. So I’m a bit of a fan, and will be supporting them. Their GP3 ability is shining through. On the GP2 record, a lot of Arden’s drivers have gone on to finish well in the series for other teams. Bruno Senna came second with iSport, Sergio Perez finished second with Addax, and Charles Pic is currently third with Addax. Sebastien Buemi moved straight from Arden to driving for Toro Rosso.

Knife, bread, butter, jam…

GP2
It’s an all-British lineup for Carlin this weekend as Oliver Turvey takes the place of Mikhail Aleshin. The Russian driver was looking doubtful to drive for the whole season, and Turvey had replaced him in tests. After a poor showing in Barcelona after his injury at Istanbul, it made sense for Carlin to try a more experienced driver.
In 2009, Turvey came 4th with Carlin in FR 3.5, winning the race in Monaco. Last year he competed in GP2 with iSport, finishing 6th with several finishes on the podium, and he won the second Abu Dhabi GP2 Asia feature race in 2009-10, also coming sixth with iSport. In the 2011 GP2 Asia championship he finished 16th, with a best finish of 8th.

F1
We will be seeing the super-soft tyres come out at Monaco for the first time. They will be red. As Martin Brundle said at the first race, the tyres are coloured silver, white, yellow and red or: knife, bread, butter and jam. So far we have seen the silver hard tyres and the yellow soft tyres. We will continue to see the butter yellow softs at Monaco, but they will become ‘primes’ while the super-softs are the options.
Monaco is a slow, low-downforce track so the tyres should wear less than at a high-downforce track like Barcelona. All the same, these tyres create a risk of another massive pit-stop race where Pirelli are looking for only 2 or 3 maximum.