Russian team, Russian drivers, rushing around…

FR 3.5
The first big piece of news today was that KMP Racing have been renamed Team RFR – Russia France Racing. The team will field a pair of Russian drivers in the 2012 championship – 2010 champion Mikhail Aleshin, and Anton Neybilitskiy. Neybilitskiy has managed one podium in the series so far, and with only average results in his two completed seasons, he will be hoping for better this year.
Nick Yelloly, who had a great part-season alongside his GP3 races last year, has signed for British team Comtec, who came last in the championship with only two points. With Yelloly, they will hope for much better.

Testing continued in Estoril for the second and final day, and once again the drivers were showing a strong hand. Finnish driver Aaro Vainio was fastest, beating Nico Muller’s time from yesterday by one second. Tio Ellinas was second-fastest, the Cypriot showing just how good British racing series are at training young drivers (he graduates from Formula Renault UK). Ellinas was also fastest in the afternoon, though he could not match his morning time. Other drivers who shone were Mitch Evans, Conor Daly and Antonio Felix da Costa. Not all these drivers have been signed for 2012, and it its hoped that they soon will be, because they could make this an incredibly close and hard-fought championship to rival last season.

Times mean nothing in F1 testing. Lotus were of course not present after the problems of day one. Toro Rosso were also struggling, causing two red flags though one was deliberately caused by running out of fuel. Petrov had his first day in the Caterham and was doing okay. Fastest overall was Nico Hulkenberg, the Force India continuing to put in good times.

Tomorrow, F1 testing continues.

GP3 tests in Valencia

The GP3 teams are testing in Valencia this week. Along with several 2011 drivers, there are a few other names worth pointing out.

2011 drivers:
Conor Daly (USA, Carlin)
Matias Laine (FIN, Manor)
Tamas Pal Kiss (HUN, Atech CRS) drove for Tech 1
Marlon Stockinger (CZE, ART) drove for Atech CRS this season
Maxim Zimin (RUS, Arden) drove for Jenzer

Notable new drivers:
Daniel Abt (GER, ART) 2010 F3 Germany runner-up
Tom Blomqvist (GBR, Status), 2010 British Formula Renault champion
Will Buller (GBR, Carlin) 4th in British F3, 6th in Macau GP
Michela Cerruti (ITA, Addax) Superstars International Series race winner; a rare female racer
Tio Ellinas (GBR, Manor) third in Formula Renault UK
Fabio Gamberini (BRA, Arden) 3rd in Euro F3 Open
Michael Heche (SUI, Jenzer) third in Formula Arbath Europe
Patric Niederhauser (SUI, Jenzer) Formula Arbath Italy champion, Formula Arbath Europe runner-up
Yuhi Sekiguchi (JPN, Mucke) Japanese F3 champion
Will Stevens (GBR, Arden) 2 podiums in four Formula Renault UK races
Robert Visoiu (ROM, Jenzer) notable for his age – 15 years
Pascal Wehrlein (GER, Mucke) ADAC Formel Masters champion

Another American Grand Prix

Monte Carlo. Singapore. New York. In 2013, all three will feature on the Formula One calendar. While some may feel it is unfair that the US will have two races, it is a large country. Certainly it’s a lot larger than Spain, which has hosted two Grands Prix since 2008.
Officials in New Jersey announced the proposed race today that will take place across the river from the famous Manhattan skyline. Though not in New York Ci9ty itself, this video of the route taken by a local shows that the race will certainly afford some great views:

Adam Hay-Nicholls of GP Week and the Metro also posted some photos on Twitter: view from the pits; pit buildings under construction; the local ferry that takes 8 minutes to get to New York. (All pics, of course, by Adam)

I think this is a great opportunity for America. It may have a smaller F1 fanbase in terms of percentage, but I have met via Twitter plenty of enthusiastic racing fans from the US who pay attention to ‘European’ racing. And with Alex Rossi in the wings at Team Lotus, as well as Conor Daly and Jake Rosenzweig hoping for F1 in the future, they could have drivers to support as well.

Summer day 11 – Daly, Bacheta, Yelloly, Chaves

Conor Daly – 20
Carlin fans have been hoping all season for an improvement in the team’s GP3 fortunes after several dismal qualifying sessions and a complete lack of points apart from eight from Tom Dillmann at the start of the year. Popular American Conor – the son of Irish racing driver Derek Daly – has been doing the best of the two regular drivers, and he finally picked up points in the Nurburgring feature race when he came sixth on slicks in the rain. Sometimes, just staying on track is enough, and both Carlin drivers are good at not spinning in the rain. Incredibly, Conor has failed to retire from any race so far.

Points: 3
Best qualifying: 13
Worst qualifing: 29
Best finish: 6 (Nurburgring feature)
Worst finish: 25 (Istanbul sprint)
Retirements: 0

Luciano Bacheta – 19
The Silverstone feature race saw all seven British drivers finish in the points after many drivers made bad tyre decisions on the grid. But Bacheta’s crew at Mucke Motorsport made the right choice as he started on the wet tyres. At one point he was sailing along in third, but he was eventually overtaken by Nick Yelloly and Adrian Quaife-Hobbs, who had both started on slicks but had speed and skill enough to catch him at the end. Aside from that lucky race, however, Luciano hasn’t got many good results. But the young British-Indian-Italian driver should improve next season.

Points: 4
Best qualifying: 12
Worst qualifing: 28
Best finish: 5 (Silverstone feature)
Worst finish: 25 (Nurburgring both races)
Retirements: 2

Nick Yelloly – 18
British driver Nick’s best weekend was also at Silverstone, when he achieved points in both the feature race and the sprint. He got his first podium finish in the feature, and came sixth in the sprint. Aside from that, Nick has generally finished in the top half of the field, though he has also had a couple of bad races.

Points: 7
Best qualifying: 10
Worst qualifing: 26
Best finish: 3 (Silverstone feature)
Worst finish: 25 (Barcelona feature)
Retirements: 1

Gabriel Chaves – 17
Columbian driver Gabby Chaves has scored points in three races so far this season, and he began well. But in the more recent races his form has faltered. He had car trouble in Hungary, but apart from that he has qualified in the top half of the field. Considering how close everyone is, this is quite impressive.

Points: 8
Best qualifying: 7
Worst qualifing: 30
Best finish: 4 (Valencia feature)
Worst finish: 23 (Hungaroring feature)
Retirements: 3 (1 classified)