Germany, Ogier win ROC; Alguersuari wins in Brazil

It was the Race of Champions this weekend, with the Nations Cup on Saturday before the individual event on Sunday. The eight teams were split into two groups, and held football-style playoffs to determine who would go through to the semi finals. For each ‘match’, the first members of each team would drive against each other for two laps, and then the second members. At the end, the two teams who won the most races go through to the semis. If there’s a tie, the team with the fastest total time goes through.
The most surprising result of the group stages came when Vitaly Petrov beat Michael Schumacher by hundredths of a second. David Coulthard, driving for Team All-Stars, did not have a good time, being beaten by Button before false starting against Schumacher. The Scot got a five-second time penalty.
The semi final for group A came down to France (Sebastien Ogier and Romain Grosjean) versus the Nordic team (Tom Kristensen and Juho Hanninen), while for group B it was Britain (Jenson Button and Andy Priaulx) versus Germany (Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel). The Nordic team beat France with two wins, but Britain came down to a tie break after Button beat Schumacher but Vettel beat Priaulx. It was close after the first lap, then Jenson spun his car and it was all over. The final came down to Nordic vs Germany.
In the end, Germany easily beat Team Nordic as the organisers decided Hanninen knew the Skoda S2000 too well to drive it against Vettel. The change of car meant that the German easily dominated and secured the country’s fifth consecutive win.
In the competition to find the champion of champions, four groups of four – mostly drivers from the nations cup but with the two Timos replaced by Ekstrom and Tomczyk – followed the same elimination pattern. Grosjean narrowly beat Petrov, but despite losing to Tom Kristensen, Vettel had done enough to knock the Frenchman out. Others who made it through were Schumacher, Button, Ogier, Kristensen, Tomczyk and Priaulx and Coulthard.
The quarter-finals saw Schumacher beat Vettel, Kristensen beat Button, Tomczyk beat Coulthard and Ogier beat Priaulx. Schumacher was the only F1 driver left, and going up against Kristensen. Ogier was up against DTM champion Tomczyk. The winners were Kristensen and ROC rookie Ogier, who went through to the finals for two head-to-head races.
Kristensen fought hard, but Ogier’s speed and talent was too much and the rally driver – recently signed by VW – became the 2011 Champion of Champions.

Meanwhile in Brazil, Felipe Massa’s Desafio Internacional des Estralias – a kart race with international drivers from various disciplines – was taking place. Former world karting champion Tonio Liuzzi was on pole, but Jules Bianchi went into the lead from the start. Liuzzi spun, but fought his way back to 11th by the flag. Massa was in second, and at first had a decent gap as Pizzonia, Piquet jr and Alguersuari fought over third. The Spaniard got through, however, and quickly closed on Massa as the wet track dried. The two drivers had a mighty scrap, with Alguersuari eventually getting into second. He could not get any gap on Massa, and they were incredibly close on the line. The Toro Rosso driver edged it by about a tenth of a second. But Bianchi led all the way, winning by almost eight seconds in a dominating performance by the Ferrari reserve.
The second race saw Bianchi fight his way up the field from 8th – as with GP2 and GP3, the top eight are reversed – and soon dominate again after a scrap between di Grassi and d’Ambrosio that saw the Belgian lose out. Alguersuari fell back to tenth at the start, but battled past Massa and Barrichello before getting on the tail of di Grassi. They swapped positions a couple of times before Alguersuari pulled away for second. After the race, Bianchi was disqualified for having a too-light kart, which means Alguersuari was given the win.
The Spaniard won the weekend overall with Massa second. It’s an impressive job from the Toro Rosso driver, who looks likely to continue in F1 next season.

In the news, Scottish driver Lewis Williamson – who recently was accepted to join the FIA Young Drivers Academy – will be continuing his racing career with Arden. He has signed a contract to race for them in Formula Renault 3.5, having done two races in place of Daniel Ricciardo last year. This year, he managed one win and two seconds in GP3 to finish the best of the Arden drivers. As a Red Bull junior driver, he was always unlikely to go to GP2, and it will be interesting to see what 2012 has in store for him.

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Summer day 24 – Lewis Williamson

Lewis Williamson – 4
Initially the second of Arden’s three drivers, Lewis Williamson finally overtook his teammate Mitch Evans at the Nurburgring with a second place finish. This came after his win at Silverstone in the sprint race.
His season began with some rather bad results, but he quickly got the hang of the GP3 car to take his first points with pole in Valencia, finishing the race second. Despite only taking three podiums and with only three other points finishes, the close season puts Lewis in easy contention for the championship.

Points: 31
Best qualifying: 1
Worst qualifing: 18
Best finish: 1 (Silverstone sprint)
Worst finish: 20 (Istanbul sprint)
Retirements: 2

Practice sessions summarised

As it turns out, the FIA overall problem only affected the drivers of Ferrari, Mercedes and Force India. But they have got their problems sorted and were driving well this morning. There were also practice sessions for F2, GP2 and GP3 today. A summary follows after the jump.
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F2 and GP3 qualifying

Italian Mirko Bortolotti took provisional pole today for the first race at a soggy Spa. He qualified 1.3s ahead of the nearest competitor Ramon Pineiro, with Alex Brundle in third and Christopher Zanella fourth. However, he was then penalised for going too fast with yelow flags waving so now Pineiro and Brundle will share the front row. Jon Lancaster is again notable by his absence, the cause of which I am unable to determine. I am concerned that something serious has happened, since if it had just been a car failure they surely would have mentioned something by now. Neither Mun, Kralev or Sureshwaren set reasonable qualifying times, but will hopefully still be able to race.

In GP3, plenty of different drivers took the chance to lead the session including Mitch Evans and Adrian Quaiffe-Hobbs. But in the end it was Evans’ Arden teammate Lewis Williamson who took his first pole position. Arden have a good lineup for 2011 with a pair of strong rookie drivers who taken two of the three pole positions this season. Second and third were two other Brits: Dean Smith and Adrian Quaiffe-Hobbs. Evans was fourth, then Vainio, Sims, Dillmann, Chaves, Bottas and Calado, with Sims and Chaves both recovering despite a collision. The final qualifying positions are as ever subject to penalties.

Finally, a brief word to say that Takuma Sato has taken his first IndyCar pole. So far the best Japanese F1 driver, Sato has been doing reasonably well in IndyCar as well, though sometimes his races have been muddled by his team’s poor strategy choices.

F1 Qualifying Turkey 11

Lotus once again creep closer to Q2, after Kobayashi’s failure to set a qualifying time put Heikki Kovalainen in P18, beating his teammate for the fourth time in four races. Liuzzi will start ahead of both Virgin cars after D’Ambrosio’s penalty, which is good news for Virgin.
In Q2, Schumacher made it through to the final part of qualifying for the first time. Paul di Resta failed to beat his teammate for the first time this year – an incredible rookie record – and came P13. Williams did much better, with Barrichello P11 and Maldonado P14. The two Toro Rossos were at the bottom of the timesheets, with Alguersuari lining up next to Kovalainen tomorrow.
Petrov was first man on track in Q3, with some others coming out while Massa, Schumacher, Rosberg and Heidfeld remained in the garage to save tyres. Finally they all went out again to set a final lap except for the two Red Bull drivers. But they retained their front row, with Vettel unsurprisingly in pole, while Rosberg went P3 ahead of Hamilton’s McLaren. Massa messed up his lap and didn’t end up setting a time to be P10. And Alonso went P5 for the fourth time in four races. So Alonso, Rosberg and Vettel have each beaten their teammate in every race so far.

In GP3, Williamson has been docked 6 grid places for crossing the pit lane line twice, and Yelloly three places for crossing it once. This moves Caldarelli to P3, Melker P4, Bottas P5, Calado P6, Christiensen P7, Evans P8, and then Williamson P9; Nunes P19, Bacheta P20, Amberg P21 and Yelloly P22.

Next up is the GP2 race.

GP3 Qualifying Quotes – Turkey 2011

GP3 qualifying came between 7:45 and 8:15 this morning. After a slow start, Carlin’s Tom Dillmann made it to pole. He was followed by Alexander Sims (Status) and Lewis Williamson (Arden). A third Brit in the form of James Calado was also in the top 10. However, it was so close between all the drivers: 0.02s between Dillmann and Sims, and 1s covered the top 25 drivers.
As with GP2, here are some quotes from drivers and teams (I only use driver accounts that they update themselves):

Pole position baby!!! Yeeeeeeeaaaaaahhhhhh
@TomDillmann (Tom Dillmann, Carlin, P1)

2nd in qualifying but messed up Turn 10 by going on the astro at the exit. A solid session overall though and looking forward to the race!
@simsracing (Alex Sims, Status, P2)

Quite a poor qualy, P11, made a few mistakes and with 27cars in 1second you pay hard for these little mistakes, let’s have a good race now!!
@a_felixcosta13 (Antonio Felix da Costa, Status, P11)

First new tyre run in GP3. Have qualified p18 but on 7 tenths from pole. So close but learning everytime in the car. Race 1, 5.10pm!
@domstoreyracing (Dominic Storey, Addax, P18)

8 tenths off in quali, which isn’t too bad for my first proper dry run, but I am p21! I’m having fun and learning something new every lap.
@LucianoBacheta (Luciano Bacheta, Mucke, P21)

Not a great #GP3 qualifying, lovely weather but we didn’t seem to get a rhythm 😦 Rio 13 Adrian 16 Matias 25 but I think he had a problem
@MarussiaVirgin (Manor Racing, P13 & P16 & P25)