Title deciding weekend – F2 and Auto GP

The morning’s qualifying session saw Mihai Marinescu take pole for the first time this season, with Alex Brundle next door on the front row. Behind, Ramon Pineiro and championship leader Mirko Bortolotti shared the second row. The only remaining championship contender, Christopher Zanella, was on the third row ahead of Tobias Hegewald.
When the lights went out, Brundle took the lead from Marinescu, while Pineiro headed Bortolotti and Hegewald got ahead of Zanella. Marinescu got his position back after the first lap, but it remained tight between the pair while the Pineiro-Bortolotti and Hegewald-Zanella battles continued behind them.
About a third of the way into the race, Bortolotti got the better of Pineiro and prepared for his next goal – Brundle, who was slowly falling behind Marinescu. And Zanella behind knew he had to overtake Hegewald, to prevent the Austro-Italian from taking the title today should Bortolotti get Brundle.
Bortolotti soon closed on Brundle, and it was a tight battle between the pair for the remainder of the race. The Brit held on to second for all but the final lap, as he refused to give in to the pressure. But on the final lap, Bortolotti had his way as he got past Brundle and took a close second. Brundle took the final podium spot, while a trailing Pineiro came fourth. Zanella, who had overtaken Hegewald, had tried to fight with Pineiro but ended up fifth. Hegewald came sixth, with Thiemo Storz seventh, Jack Clarke eighth, Mikkel Mac ninth and Luciano Bacheta picking up the point for tenth after struggling all weekend.
If Zanella is to take the title, he will need Bortolotti to DNF all the remaining races, whilst winning them all himself. Not quite as hard as Jenson Button’s task in F1, but about as unlikely!

Auto GP
The penultimate race of a closely-fought championship took place today. Polesitter Adrien Tambay (son of Patrick Tambay) took the win, just ahead of GP2 runner-up Luca Filippi who had fought hard. Tambay is now fourth in the championship, and needs the win at least (he could also do with fastest lap) – plus disaster for his opponents – if he’s to take the title.
More likely to win are the top three. Leading the championship is Kevin Ceccon. Already the under-21 champion, he’s already taken part in the GP2 test he won. Ceccon came fourth in today’s race and will start fifth tomorrow with the reversed grid. Luca Filippi is in second – nine points behind Ceccon – and will start seventh tomorrow. In third is Sergei Afanasiev of Russia, who finished sixth today and starts third tomorrow. He is 11 points behind Ceccon.
Third-placed in today’s race was Fabio Onidi, who also took part in this week’s GP2 test. Eighth was Adam Carroll, who stalled on the grid but came back to take reversed pole tomorrow and also set the fastest lap.

Summer day 11 – Herck, Carroll, Fauzy, Chilton

Michael Herck – 20
Romanian Michael has been driving in GP2 for a long time with limited success. This year he has generally finished on the cusp of the points, finally picking one up in the Valencia sprint race. Driving for Scuderia Coloni, it looked like that would be their only point until Luca Filippi switched teams and took the win on his 100th race. All the same, Michael has been doing a solid job.

Points: 1
Best qualifying: 14
Worst qualifying: 24
Best finish: 6 (Valencia sprint)
Worst finish: 24 (Silverstone feature)
Retirements: 3

Adam Carroll – 19
After plying his trade in America last season, Adam was out of a drive for 2010 until he made a brilliant comeback in Formula Renault 3.5. Suddenly everyone was talking about him again. Another good round in Auto GP made his old team Super Nova invite him back to GP2, which worked out well for everyone. He scored two points on his return as he gets used to the new GP2 car.

Points: 2
Best qualifying: 14
Worst qualifying: 18
Best finish: 5 (Nurburgring sprint)
Worst finish: 19 (Hungaroring feature)
Retirements: 0

Fairuz Fauzy – 18
Until this season, Fairuz had failed to score any points in the main GP2 series, though the Malaysian had plenty of success in GP2 Asia. Returning to the series to drive for Super Nova, he scored points in the first two sprint races. Since then, however, he has not done as well, and needs to improve for the final two rounds of the season. Fairuz is a terrible qualifier, but picks up places in the races.

Points: 3
Best qualifying: 19
Worst qualifying: 25
Best finish: 5 (Istanbul sprint)
Worst finish: 21 (Silverstone feature)
Retirements: 3 (1 classified)

Max Chilton – 17
Carlin’s full-time driver Max is the younger brother of BTCC driver Tom Chilton. Struggling for the first couple of races, his breakthrough came in Monaco when he picked up points in both races. He aso managed a point in the sprint at the Nurburgring. The Brit has had a lot of retirements this year, but generally qualifies well and should improve as his confidence grows.

Points: 4
Best qualifying: 5
Worst qualifying: 26
Best finish: 6 (Monaco, Nurburgring sprints)
Worst finish: 19 (Silverstone sprint)
Retirements: 5

Former Hungaroring winners

There are plenty of former winners from the Hungaroring taking place in the races this weekend. Quite a few drivers made their win debuts at this track as well, helped perhaps by the difficulty in overtaking.

First Formula One, where the track has been part of the world championship since 1986. First won by Nelson Piquet, of the current F1 crop the first winner was Michael Schumacher in 1994. He also got pole position and fastest lap for Benneton. Schumi has also won here in 1998 (pole, fastest lap), 2001 (pole) and 2004 (pole, fastest lap, led every lap), but hasn’t dominated in comparison to his usual record at tracks. Rubens Barrichello also won here in 2002 for Ferrari getting pole and barely beating Schumi to the line, and the next year it was Fernando Alonso in the Renault – unsurprisingly, he also had pole.
More recently, the race hasn’t been won by anyone in their championship year. 2006 was the debut win for Jenson Button, who took the first victory for a British driver since Australia 2003. Incredibly Jenson did not start on pole – he qualified 4th and an engine change meant he started 14th. The next year was Lewis Hamilton’s debut season; the race was hit with controversy when Alonso held up his teammate in the pits. Hamilton qualified second, but started 1st because of a five-place grid penalty given to Alonso. Another win from pole.
2008, and Heikki Kovalainen’s first season with McLaren. He took his debut (and so far only) win at the Hungaroring after Hamilton got a puncture and Massa’s engine blew up. He’d started second on the track. Kovalainen became F1’s 10th winner. The next year, Hamilton won again, incredibly qualifying ahead of both Brawns. He was assisted by problems for Alonso on pole and Vettel who’d started second.
Last year, Mark Webber won the race because of a drive-through penalty for teammate and polesitter Sebastian Vettel, who had fallen too far behind the safety car and thus broken sporting regulations.

In GP2, Sebastien Buemi won the sprint race in 2008. Pastor Maldonado won the feature race last year. Neither are likely to win this weekend, but may score some points for their teams.
Current GP2 drivers Giedo van der Garde and Adam Carroll have also both won here in the series. Carroll won the feature race in 2007, and van der Garde won the sprint in 2009.

Last year’s GP3 feature race winner Nico Muller, who has won a race this year, took the feature GP3 race last year. If things continue the way they have been going, however, we’ll get another two new winners at Hungary.

A few drivers have had victories here in Formula Renault 3.5: Daniel Ricciardo won the first race in 2010, though if he won this year it would be a miracle. GP2 driver Fairuz Fauzy won the first race in 2009, and Giedo van der Garde won the first race the year before his GP2 victory at the track.

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!

Auto GP mid-season

Auto GP – formerly known as Euroseries 3000 – doesn’t seem to have much of a purpose these days except to give drivers from other series extra practice. The leader of the series is Luca Filippi, the Italian driver who has been in all but one series of GP2 with a best finish of fourth (59 points) and a worst of 20th (5 points, for a part-season). He’s currently 13th.
Second in the championship is Kevin Ceccon, a driver who got an early and unexpected promotion into GP2 this season because of an injury to Davide Rigon at Turkey. The young Italian has only failed to finish one race, though he has struggled because of his age (17) and inexperience (2 seasons of European F3).
Also competing in Auto GP is Marussia Manor Racing’s Rio Haryanto. Rio finished fourth in Silverstone for his first GP3 points of the season, though last year he finished fifth in that championship. Rio is currently 10th in the Auto GP championship.
Adam Carroll is a former GP2 race winner who competed from 2005-2008 with a best finish of fifth (53 points), and also won a lot of races in the A1 GP (winning the 2008-09 series for Ireland in dominating fashion). He went to America last year but has returned to Europe. At the last round of Formula Renault he replaced the injured Walter Grubmuller and immediately scored points, taking fourth in the first race and a podium in the second.
Daniel de Jong, who is driving with the struggling Comtec team in Formula Renault, has also taken part in Auto GP. He and Adam Carroll were both taking part in their first round this weekend.
Finally Jon Lancaster, who made a strong impression in the second round of Formula Two, has taken part in two rounds so far of Auto GP. Jon has taken three non-podium points finishes and one win, as well as two fastest laps, and is sixth in the championship. As Luca Filippi’s teammate, he has rather shown up the Italian this weekend – though Filippi beat him at Brno. Perhaps it’s because of it being Jon’s home race.
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