Cassidy wins Toyota Racing Series

The final round of the Toyota Racing Series saw Mitch Evans’s dominance get rather irritating for some of the international drivers. The GP3 driver took first and second in the first two races, barely losing to Felix Serrales who took his first win of 2012. In the final race, only Evans’ retirement allowed series champion Nick Cassidy to victory.
Hannes van Asseldonk, who came second in the championship, was doing well, with two second-place finishes; the Dutch driver was due for a podium before he retired in race 2. The third place podiums went to Cassidy, Josh Hill and Lucas Auer – who won the rookie cup.
Third in the championship was Damon Leitch, whose good start to the series tailed off towards the end. Josh Hill came fourth, only four points behind the Kiwi. Jordan King, who was struggling this weekend, came fifth. Lucas Auer was overall sixth as well as rookie champion, while Nathanael Berthon came seventh.

HRT announced today that they have signed Spanish racing driver Dani Clos as third driver for 2012. Clos, who drove for Racing Engineering from 2009-2011 (no confirmed team for 2012 yet) has won one GP2 race – the Turkish sprint in 2010 – but taken many podiums as well as pole at Monaco in 2010. He finished 4th in the series that year, and last year came 9th. Going on past form, Dani Clos could be promoted to an HRT race seat mid-season, but for now the young Spaniard will be watching from the sidelines – except on a number of Fridays when he will be in the driving seat.

Also this weekend, BBC pitlane reporter for 2012 Jennie Gow got married. Congratulations to her!
It’s BAFTA weekend, and Senna was nominated in several categories. The movie won awards for Best Documentary and Best Editing, both of which it thouroughly deserves.

WRC in trouble

Former Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari has turned down a racing seat with HRT. The Spaniard says he hopes to become a McLaren test driver, which would see him replacing Pedro de la Rosa. This leaves HRT still looking for a second driver, and this could go to GP2’s Dani Clos. Spaniard Dani has been driving in GP2 for three years, all with Racing Engineering. He scored his first points with a podium at Portugal in 2009 (supporting the FIA GT World Championship), when he finished third in the sprint race.
In 2010 he finished fourth in the GP2 championship, taking his first (and so far only) main series win in the process; he won the sprint at Imola in GP2 Asia this year Last season he didn’t do quite as well, finishing 9th overall but coming second in the Spain and Britain sprint races. A good driver, he would be a sensible choice for the Spanish national team.

Meanwhile, Italian physio Raniero Gianotti who has worked with Barrichello, Alguersuari and Vettel, amongst others, has sadly passed away. According to Rubens Barrichello, he suffered a heart attack whilst on his bike. May he rest in peace.

Finally, the WRC is in trouble after series promoter North One Sports had its contract terminated by the FIA after failing to fulfil the terms of its contract. Due to the lack of a purchaser for NOS and its parent company CSI (who went into administration in November) the FIA are now having to work hard in order to ensure the series goes ahead; the first event – the Monte Carlo Rally – is in just 10 days’ time.

Young drivers’ test day one

The first day of the F1 young drivers’ test is over. Of the 23 taking part in the three-day test, fourteen were driving today. So far as I’m aware, nothing significant happened and the young drivers generally did well.
In the morning, Jean-Eric Vergne topped the times for Red Bull with Jules Bianchi about two seconds behind in the Ferrari. McLaren ran Oliver Turvey, who was 0.9s behind the French driver. Finn Valtteri Bottas was getting the most out of the Williams and set the fourth-fastest time.
In the afternoon, Charles Pic took over from Adrian Quaife-Hobbs in the Virgin, while Gary Paffett took over in the McLaren. The British team have been using the time to work on 2012 modifications, since Paffett has no race experience despite testing for a long time with them. Vergne was again fastest, with Bianchi around 0.9s slower in the Ferrari. Robert Wickens in the Renault set the third-fastest time. Williams had a few gearbox troubles, but Bottas still managed some good running.

Full times: TSL Timing

Four seats TBA in GP2 final

Addax have confirmed that Jolyon Palmer, who drove for Arden this season, will be one of their two drivers for the GP2 final in Abu Dhabi. The second will be American Jake Rosenzweig from Formula Renault. At Ocean Racing, French driver Nicolas Marroc will be joining Antonio Felix da Costa. Marroc currently drives in the International GT Open, but last year took part in the F3 Euroseries. He is the third Frenchman currently signed up for the final.
The remaining seats to be announced are at Arden and Super Nova.

In the young drivers’ test, Dani Clos (GP2) will be driving for HRT; Renault/Lotus will have Formula Renault 3.5 champion Robert Wickens, Estonian Kevin Korjus, and their reserve driver Jan Charouz; and Max Chilton will be driving for Force India.
Korjus will be only the second Estonian to drive an F1 car, and along with Kevin Ceccon will be one of the first drivers called ‘Kevin’ in an F1 car since 1981.

Race of Champions
Marussia Virgin’s Timo Glock will be competing in the ROC alongside Timo Scheider, the German touring car star. They will make up a second German team, with the first being Schumacher and Vettel.

In other news, former F1 driver for Williams and Team Lotus and American CART champion Alex Zanardi, who was injured in a CART accident in 2001, has won the New York Marathon handcycling class. Good work!

Clos and Marinescu called up for Rapax

Rapax have announced their GP2 finals lineup. Despite not finishing in the top three in F2, Mihai Marinescu will have his chance in a GP2 car alongside experienced Spaniard Dani Clos. Romanian Mihai finished 5th this season, winning the first race at Monza from pole, and also taking the fastest lap. He also finished third on three occasions: in both races at the Red Bull Ring and in the second race at the Circuit de Catalunya.
Though he hasn’t won any GP2 races this season, Dani Clos finished second on two occasions and finished 9th overall. He won a GP2 race in 2010, and has plenty of experience.

The experienced Formula Renault UK drivers shone in qualifying, with Daniil Kvyat also making good pace. Josh Hill was fastest, with Jordan King second, Oliver Rowland third, Dan Wells fourth, Kvyat fifth and Felix Serrales sixth. For the second race, the drivers’ second-fastest times were taken. Again, Hill took pole, with Rowland second, Wells third, King fourth, Serrales fifth and Kvyat sixth.
The races went well for Rowland, who won both. Josh Hill was demoted to second, and followed by Dany Kvyat and Jordan King. But King and Hill both spun, leaving them further down the results. Instead, Felix Serrales joined Rowland and Kvyat on the podium. The second was marred by a clumsy overtake from Rowland on Josh Hill who was forced out of the race. The situation also caused a safety car for several laps. Dan Wells came second followed by Serrales. Kvyat was fourth, with King seventh behind Josh Webster and Stefan Wackerbauer.

Tomorrow there will be more GP2 news and more Formula Renault UK racing.

Summer day 20 – Dani Clos

Dani Clos – 8
Spanish driver Dani Clos is taking part in GP2 for his home team Racing Engineering. Dani has had his ups and downs, picking up two podiums in Barcelona and Silverstone but having a tough weekend in Monaco and at the Hungaroring – the only rounds he hasn’t picked up points. A regular in the points, he’s bound to be in with a title chance in 2012. Qualifying-wise, he has also been up and down, sometimes in the top ten but in Monaco, Germany and Hungary he missed out. Hopefully it’s just a small dip, and he’ll be back to form for the final races of the season.

Points: 26
Best qualifying: 4
Worst qualifying: 17
Best finish: 2 (Barcelona and Silverstone sprints)
Worst finish: 15 (Istanbul sprint)
Retirements: 3

GP2 and GP3 race 2

Well that was exciting. A crash off the start line took out a stalled Muller, Sims and Stockinger, and so we had a safety car out, and they had to go through the pit lane to avoid the accident. Three drivers were given drive-through penalties for jumping the start: Vainio (from P4!), Calado and Quaife-Hobbs. Towards the end of the race there were more incidents, with Storey putting himself out after a fight with Trummer, then Nunes taking out himself and Trummer.
The race ran to time, and Tamas Pal Kiss for Tech 1 won the race with Mucke’s Nigel Melker second and Dean Smith third for Addax. Caldarelli (who got fastest lap), Evans and Chaves made up the rest of points scorers, but Chaves was given a penalty to promote Valtteri Bottas into sixth. It is Tech 1’s first GP3 victory, just as yesterday was Arden’s.

So this means Nigel Melker (leading the championship) and Andrea Caldarelli (2nd) have finished in the points for every race. Third-placed Mitch Evans has finished in the points for three races, just missing out in the Turkey sprint, and Dean Smith (9th) just missing out in the Turkey feature race.

A smash off the start line, this time caused by Bianchi’s ART collecting van der Garde’s Addax, causing a safety car. They won’t be getting any points today. Coletti got himself up to sixth, while Sam Bird got up to fourth and Dani Clos up to second. Romain Grosjean reached P22 after his disqualification from yesterday’s race, and Fauzy got up to P9.
Feature race winner Charles Pic was shown the black and orange flag for damage on his car, and relegated to the back of the grid. Lap 13, and Esteban Gutierrez managed to take out Michael Herck again. This time he kept going. Romain Grosjean never managed to get anywhere high at the start, but he pushed through a lot of cars towards the end of the race and finished a brilliant 9th.
Towards the end, Razia and Filippi took each other out, Filippi stopping on track and Razia retiring. Valsecchi overtook Sam Bird for fourth place as Bird’s tyres faded, and Coletti and Kral – fighting for sixth – took each other out and let Fairuz Fauzy in to the final points position.
In general, the start of the race was rather processional – as to be expected in Barcelona – but at the end it was very exciting with cars crashing all over the place. Fabio Leimer led from pole, gaining a good lead on Dani Clos and setting some very fast laps at the end. Clos in turn was well ahead of Marcus Ericsson, who took the final podium slot. Sam Bird spent most of the race in fourth but finished fifth behind AirAsia’s Davide Valsecchi. Fairuz Fauzy was gifted the final point for his third main series GP2 point (all three coming this season).
Sam Bird is the only GP2 driver to have scored points in every race.

I don’t want to get ahead of myself, so all these results are unofficial until penalties have been applied. And if the rest of this season is anything to go by, there will be a lot of them. Driver steward Mark Blundell was expressing his frustration at the drivers on his Twitter @markblundellf1.