Super-DRS leads to Super Pole for Super German!

With such a mixed-up grid, and so many strong teams and drivers, the question of who will win is unknown. Perhaps Kobayashi could get his first podium, and maybe Rosberg will get that long-awaited first win.

F2
It was a fascinating F2 race. I was unable to make it out to Silverstone, but I was watching the live timing and can’t wait for it to be shown on Motors TV. Tuscher fell back quickly from pole, and Zanella took the lead with Marinescu and Bacheta behind. As the race went on, these three pulled a small gap over the drivers behind, including Dino Zamparelli who was fifth for all but the final lap when his car got a problem. In the closing laps, Marinescu began to struggle but Bacheta picked up the pace. First he took the Romanian, and on the penultimate lap he overtook Zanella for the lead. It was close, but he maintained his position for the win. So far, the Brit has a 100% record of scoring points in F2, and he also leads the championship.
Marinescu took fastest lap but fell to fourth, with Alex Fontana third making it two Swiss drivers on the podium. Daniel McKenzie did excellently and finished fifth after Zamparelli fell back. Tuscher ended up sixth with rookie Hector Hurst seventh. Zamparelli finished ninth, with Iranian Kourosh Khani taking the final point.

Auto GP
Sergey Sirotkin took his debut pole position at Marrakech, but stalled briefly on the line to lose position. Pal Varhaug took the lead, and maintained it until his pit stop when he stalled the car. The team got it going again, but he was only able to finish third. Championship leader Adrian Quaife-Hobbs didn’t make the best start and struggled on his tyres. As soon as possible, he pitted for fresh tyres and then he improved. He managed several slick overtakes, before getting behind Sergio Campana – then running second. After Varhaug’s muddled stop, this became the race for the win. Quaife-Hobbs had many opportunities, but he wasn’t taking any risks and I’m sure he was satisfied with second. Campana took his first win.
Adrian Quaife-Hobbs still leads the championship with 95 points, while Varhaug is now 24 points behind in second. Sirotkin came home sixth and has 60 points, while Chris van der Drift has 49 in fourth. Both Manor MP boys are about equal, and de Jong is fifth with 43 points. Race winner Campana is sixth with 39.

Tomorrow, the same series will be on track once again. Can Rosberg win his first race? Will it be a double for Bacheta on home turf? And what adventures await in the reversed-grid Auto GP? There’s also BTCC and WTCC action.

Sunny day for F2 testing at Silverstone

Auto GP
The second weekend of the championship is coming up this weekend at Valencia, and there are some changes to the drivers. Brazilian Yann Cunha, who won F3 Sudamericana in 2010, came second in the Brazilian F3 open last season, and won one race in the European F3 Open, joins Ombra Racing. He will also be driving for Pons in the Formula Renault 3.5 series this year. He will be replacing Adderly Fong, who took a seventh place at Monza.
Former FR 3.5 driver Sten Pentus will also be joining Auto GP as part of the Virtuosi UK team. Virtuosi had a great first weekend with Pal Varhaug, and will be hoping to continue their success. Estonian Pentus has had a reasonably successful career in the FR 3.5 series, his best year being 2010 when he won two races and overall finished fourth with Fortec.

F2
It’s just a few weeks now until Formula Two gets back into racing action, and testing was underway today in glorious sunshine. While one driver dominated proceedings, others were also doing well including Britain’s Luciano Bacheta, and Romanian Mihai Marinescu. Dean Stoneman was also doing well on his return to the series. In session three, Alex Fontana was the only driver to come out on top apart from the German who had led the other sessions.
Present at the test were all the signings for 2012, including last year’s runner-up Christopher Zanella. Naturally, the Swiss driver will be looking for the championship this year, but I think Marinescu, Bacheta and the other driver will be giving him a run for his money.
Dino Zamparelli, winner of the 2011 FR BARC championship and runner-up in the McLaren Autosport BDRC award, was also present at the test. He had been hoping to drive in Formula Renault UK this year, though his hopes have been dashed, and has set a future target of driving in F2. The way he has driven today, hopefully that will not be far off.
Formula Pilota China champion Matheo Tuscher was also at the test, setting reasonable times, as was 2011 F2 driver James Cole. Axcil Jefferies, a Zimbabwean driver, and Kourosh Kahni of Iran (another BARC graduate) were also present and setting reasonable times. 2011 part-timer Jose Luis Abadin was also back to try out the new F2 car.
I hope we will be able to get a full field of 24 drivers for the first round at Silverstone, but there’s a reasonably strong field signed up already so there should be some good racing.

Other
While Dino Zamparelli was driving around Silverstone, Dan Wells – another who had hoped to drive in FR UK this year – was making announcements about his future. He will be heading east to take part in Formula Pilota China 2012. Good luck Dan!

All change at Toro Rosso

In a surprising move, Toro Rosso have dumped both their 2011 drivers and replaced them with their two up-and-coming juniors Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne. This will put an end to the ‘Ricciardo to Caterham’ rumours, which is good news for Jarno Trulli, but leaves Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi in the cold.
Ricciardo did as good a job as possible under the circumstances, and in the young driver test at Abu Dhabi Jean-Eric Vergne shone; the Frenchman was close runner-up to Robert Wickens in Formula Renault 3.5 this season too, and Ricciardo would have had a chance if he had not been busy with his F1 commitments.
For the dropped drivers, Alguersuari in particular had a good season, and deserves to continue in F1. Red Bull, however, have a reputation for abandoning drivers; Sebastian Vettel is the only survivor. Former Toro Rosso drivers have typically not survived in F1 – out of Speed, Bourdais and Liuzzi, only Liuzzi managed to continue and he does not look like surviving into 2012.

Meanwhile, HRT’s Team Principal Colin Kolles is leaving the team. They struggled in their first two seasons, usually losing out to Virgin in the races but getting just enough good finishes to beat the Russian team. HRT, who will be a Spanish national team next season, could well hire Jaime Alguersuari to partner Pedro de la Rosa.

F2 testing today saw many of the eighteen drivers set very similar times. The twelfth-fastest (Scott Malvern) was less than a second away from Christopher Zanella’s fastest time. Second-fastest driver and F2 rookie Markus Pommer was only 0.014s away from Zanella’s time in his fastest lap of the day, though it was set in a different session. Even fourteenth-fastest Max Snegirev was only 1.066s away from Zanella’s time.
Meanwhile Mirko Bortolotti was testing the 2012 F2 car. The new car should be able to lap around 2 seconds faster than the current car, which should make for much more exciting racing in the future.

Vettel and Bortolotti dominate in India and Spain

What a day! Formula One completed the inaugural running of the Indian Grand Prix (won, as expected, in a dominant fashion by Sebastian Vettel) and the F2 championship was completed.

F1
The sun was shining through the haze as twenty-four cars set off for the first corner. But only 23 made it through as Kamui Kobayashi got into an incident with a few other drivers including Barrichello and Glock. Barrichello pitted for a new front wing, and despite attempting to continue, Glock retired on lap two.
There was a second incident at the next corner, and Jarno Trulli received a puncture from one of the HRTs. He drove slowly back to the pits, but ended up finishing the race two laps behind Daniel Ricciardo. Trulli’s teammate Kovalainen, howver, had a good race. For the first half he scrapped with the back of the midfield, but after changing to hard tyres he could not keep in touch with Petrov, Perez and di Resta. The trio had got their hard tyre stint done in the first lap, which paid off in the form of a point for Perez.
The Toro Rossos had plenty of wings, and though Sebastien Buemi had a failure which forced him to retire, Jaime Alguersuari finished eighth. This puts the team level with Sauber on points, though Sauber are ahead due to a fifth-place finish for Kobayashi. Renault weren’t so lucky. Senna was running well but needed to use the hard tyre. He had to pit in the final few laps, losing him the chance of a point, while Petrov was unable to overtake Perez.
Schumacher had a brilliant start and finished fifth with teammate Rosberg unable to keep up. Rosberg was sixth. Behind them came Lewis Hamilton, who once again came off badly after an incident with Felipe Massa. It is astonishing how regularly they have collided this year. Massa was penalised with a drive-through, but later retired after breaking his suspension on one of the kerbs. The other driver who retired was Pastor Maldonado, who has been having problems all weekend. He also had a mechanical failure.
Sharing the podium with Vettel were Jenson Button – who had a relatively quiet race after being troubled by Webber – and Fernando Alonso who undercut Webber in the pits. If Red Bull are going to get Mark into second in the championship, it is going to be hard work; he is 19 points behind Button and 6 behind Alonso. The way Button has been running recently, he is most likely not to lose out to the Aussie or the Spaniard. As for Hamilton, he is 38 points behind Button. This is very likely to be the first season he is beaten by his teammate.
Elsewhere, the Renaults finished 11th and 12th, di Resta came home 13th ahead of Kovalainen, and the two HRTs finished behind d’Ambrosio in 17th and 18th for Karthikeyan and Ricciardo respectively. The Indian should consider this to be a good race.

F2
Two spectacular dominating races for Mirko Bortolotti saw him top the podium in Barcelona on Saturday and Sunday, starting each from pole. Second on Saturday was Miki Monras, who found himself in a no-man’s land between Bortolotti and his fellow-countryman Ramon Pineiro who came third. Pineiro was in a similar state. On Sunday, Pineiro came second, once again running a lonely race. Behind him, however, Mihai Marinescu fended off Monras for third. It was not enough for Pineiro to take second in the championship, but he did take a well-deserved third and will soon get to test a GP2 car along with Christopher Zanella. Bortolotti, however, will be packing for Abu Dhabi where he will participare in the young drivers’ test with Williams.
There was not a huge amount of overtaking in the race, but Mikkel Mac managed a spectacular pass on Jack Clarke. Alex Brundle finishes the season top Brit after a tough year. He has only two points more than Jack Clarke, and ten more than Will Bratt who probably would have been a championship challenger if he had been able to continue. Full championship listings will be found on this website in a few days’ time.

Summer day 26 – Christopher Zanella

Christopher Zanella – 2
Before Brands Hatch, Christopher Zanella had only missed out on one podium in the F2 season, with two wins, two seconds and three thirds. Despite that, he has only had one pole position and one fastest lap. The Swiss driver led the championship after Magny-Cours, but since then has fallen to Mirko Bortolotti.
But he still has managed points in every race, which is why he is the closest challenger to Bortolotti, and he has always done better in the race than qualifying, only failing to gain a position when he took pole. Even if he misses out this year, the championship could easily be his in 2012.

Points: 151
Best qualifying: 1
Worst qualifing: 10
Best finish: 1 (Magny Cours both races)
Worst finish: 7 (Silverstone race 1, Brands Hatch race 2)
Retirements: 0

Bortolotti gets win number three

Jolyon Palmer did not qualify for, and Parthiva Sureshwaren didn’t participate in today’s F2 race. Mihai Marinescu and Alex Brundle were early casualties, but otherwise the race ran smoothly. Well, except for Ramon Pineiro destroying his chances by lining up in the wrong place on the grid. Oops. He was given a drive-through penalty, then began to push his way back through the field. He got into an incredible battle for 12th in the final laps with two other drivers, but ended up 14th by 0.012s.
Pole man Bortolotti pulled a small lead, while Zanella got up to second straight away. Jack Clarke managed to get himself into third and stayed there, fighting off Miki Monras right to the end. A mistake by Will Bratt meant Jordan King moved into fifth – crazy to think he’s not even been racing for a full year yet – with Kelvin Snoeks behind him. Johannes Theobald at his home track got his first ever Formula Two point, finishing 10th.
Rookie Fabio Gamberini brought the number 88 car home 20 seconds behind Sung-Hak Mun. A good effort though from the Brazilian.

Three drivers have had points finishes in every race of the season so far: Mirko Bortolotti, Miki Monras and Christopher Zanella. Even more impressively, Zanella and Bortolotti have each missed out on only one podium. Zanella’s was at round one (Silverstone 1), and Bortolotti’s was at round three (Magny-Cours 1).

Valencia snores, but King scores at Spa

I watched the start and the end of the race today. With the excitement we’ve had recently in F1, you’d think that means I’d miss crazy overtakes galore and a smash or two. But no. No smashes and few overtakes. This suggests to me that what you need for an exciting F1 race is not DRS or Pirelli. What you need is everyone driving a similar car. This was the case in the exciting GP2 and GP3 races this morning. Instead, we had Vettel winning from pole and setting the fastest lap along the way. Boring! Although Alonso did manage to get on the podium ahead of Webber.
I hear the F2 race at Spa was more exciting. Jordan King managed to get up to third at the start, but a mistake slid him down to seventh and he was eventually overtaken by Brundle in the final laps. But for a rookie F2 driver coming from Formula Renault, it’s a brilliant start! The winner was Mirko Bortolotti who led from pole. Second was Zanella and third yesterday’s winner Will Bratt after Hegewald went off the track at Les Combes.

In better news, although Jon Lancaster didn’t make it to race in Spa, he is alive and well. At least, he tweeted about the F1 race and posted a picture of the inside of a car. I’m not sure why he didn’t race but hopefully I’ll find out shortly. I was very worried when he disappeared and nobody said anything.

My brother and his family are visiting today so I haven’t got time to update all the tables until tomorrow. Hope you’re having a good weekend!

Formula 2 race 4

For some reason F2 qualifying 2 always seems to take place right before I need to leave on a Sunday. Anyway, in qualifying today the front row again turned out to be Brundle and Zanella. In this case, however, it was Zanella who took pole. There were 0.057s between the two drivers. Alex Brundle is looking like a serious competitor for the championship. Hopefully, Silverstone will be his only problematic race this season. Bratt and Lancaster were the other two Brits in the top 10, taking P7 and P8, with Clarke in P11.
The front row remained that way throughout the race. Lancaster, Bratt and Clarke all finished in the top 10, with Ramon Pineiro falling backwards to finish 9th. Zanella now leads the championship, with Bortolotti maintaining second. Brundle has pushed his way from 24th to 5th in two days. The young British driver has definitely put Silverstone behind him.
Next F2 race is Spa, 24th-26th June, which is the same weekend as the European Grand Prix in Valencia.

In GP3 news, according to Autosport magazine “Andrea Caldarelli has quit GP3 and will race with Formula Nippon instead.” This is confirmed by Italia Racing and Formula Nippon, where it can be seen that he is listed amongst the drivers. Indeed he has been driving in the series this weekend. It seems a strange move to me, because he is currently second in the GP3 championship. So Tech 1 could be looking for a new driver.

F2 Magny-Cours Race 1

It was wet in Magny-Cours for the race this afternoon. Alex Brundle had taken pole, and shot off into the lead before being reeled back later by Christopher Zanella – who won – and Tobias Hegewald – who came second. But compared to his Silverstone experience, it was a great weekend for the young Brit who shoots from 24th to 8th in the F2 championship.
The conditions caused plenty of drivers to spin off, and James Cole slumped to finish 18th. Mihai Marinescu spun out very early on and was unable to continue, with the same happening to Plamen Kralev. Jon Lancaster, however, improved to finish 7th and take home 6 points. With no pit stops in the championship, it was down to the drivers to keep their wet tyres going on a track that wasn’t quite where it could be, and with slow lap times all the way through it was no surprise that the race was cut short: 40 minutes instead of 24 laps because each lap was just under the 2-minute mark.
So Miki Monras leads the championship on 52 points, having finished fourth in the race, with Mirko Bortolotti second on 51 after finishing sixth. Christopher Zanella’s win jumps him up to third, with 46 points only 6 away from the lead. This one is going to be close. The full standings championship standing as usual has been updated in the link above, but subject to change depending on penalties.

F2 testing Magny-Cours

It was announced today by Formula Two and “Team Silver Lining” that Jon Lancaster will be driving in the Formula Two series this weekend, and I would guess for other races in the year. Drivers don’t enter F2 in teams, but Silver Lining sponsor one of the cars, and Lancaster will be replacing Tom Gladdis who drove in Silverstone.
Jon Lancaster – appropriately enough from Leeds – began his career in FR 2.0, taking part in the UK winter series in 2006 before moving into the French and European cups in 2007. He came second in the 2007 Eurocup FR 2.0. In 2008 he moved to F3 Euroseries, finishing 12th, and coming third in the Masters of F3 race. For 2009, he moved to FR 2.0, finishing 13th, and continued in the series last year to finish 13th again, having taken one podium, one pole position and two fastest laps. Series director Jonathan Palmer has high hopes for Jon, so let’s hope he lives up to them and does well in 2011.

Today the F2 cars have been testing at Magny-Cours. 22 cars registered times, though one of those was the test car so only 21 drivers actually set a time. Leading the first session was Miki Monras, who took podiums in both rounds at Silverstone and is second in the championship. Alex Brundle came second, and Jack Clarke (who took points in both Silverstone races) came third.
In the second session, Will Bratt – 2nd in the first race at Silverstone and disqualified from the second – set the fastest time, with Brundle again second and Monras third. In the third session, excluding the test car Tobias Hegewald was fastest, suspiciously over a second faster than second-placed championship leader Mirko Bortolotti. In third was Miki Monras. The final session was led impressively by Christopher Zanella, currently 4th in the championship, with Benjamin Lariche second and Mihai Marinescu third. The fastest overall times are listed below:

Pos

Driver

Time

Difference

1

Miki Monras (ESP)

1:30.841

2

Christopher Zanella (SUI)

1:30.846

0.005

3

Benjamin Lariche (FRA)

1:31.059

0.218

4

Mihai Marinescu (ROM)

1:31.129

0.288

5

Alex Brundle (GBR)

1:31.284

0.443

6

Ramon Pineiro (ESP)

1:31.397

0.556

7

Johannes Theobald (GER)

1:31.402

0.561

8

Jack Clarke (GBR)

1:31.472

0.631

9

Will Bratt (GBR)

1:31.490

0.649

10

Tobias Hegewald (GER)

1:31.787

0.946

11

Jon Lancaster (GBR)

1:31.988

1.147

12

Mikkel Mac (DEN)

1:32.018

1.177

13

Mirko Bortolotti (ITA)

1:32.147

1.306

14

Armaan Ebrahim (IND)

1:32.280

1.439

15

Kelvin Snoeks (NED)

1:32.463

1.622

16

Max Snegirev (RUS)

1:32.718

1.877

17

Jose Luis Abadin (ESP)

1:32.822

1.981

18

Natalia Kowalska (POL)

1:32.835

1.994

19

Plamen Kralev (BUL)

1:33.435

2.594

20

James Cole (GBR)

1:33.528

2.687

21

Sung-Hak Mun (KOR)

1:33.573

2.732

It remains to be seen who will join these 21 for the race at the weekend. Let’s hope for another full field! It’s the first time F2 (in its current format) has been to the track, which last saw an F1 race in 2008. Its facilities have been substantially improved, but it’s doubtful that a French GP will be returning any time soon, with F1 taking to many different parts of the world. But all the same, a good race is on the cards, and will be broadcast for free on the F2 website as well as on pay-to-view Motors TV.