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.

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.

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.

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!

Bacheta signs up for full F2 season

F2 announced its first driver today with Luciano Bacheta, a British racer of Indian and Italian descent. In 2011, Bacheta began in GP3, taking fifth in the Silverstone feature race having started 24th after a great decision to start on wet tyres. He left GP3 to compete in a part-season of F2, taking top-ten finishes in all his races including a best of fifth in the second race at Monza. He beat Jordan King, who also had four top-ten finishes, by a single point, and only lost out to Thiemo Storz, who was doing a complete season, by the same amount.
Bacheta, who will be driving the number four car, said on Twitter “It’s confirmed, I’m racing F2 this year!!! So happy and excited for the season :-).” (@LucianoBacheta)

Also confirmed today was Johnny Cecotto, Jr., who will be driving for Addax in the 2012 GP2 season. The German-born Venezuelan who is the son of motorbike champion Johnny Cecotto will be entering his third full season in the sport.
Finn Aaro Vainio, meanwhile, continues his GP3 campaign as Lotus confirm he will be partnering Daniel Abt at the team. Vainio picked up 12 points last season, including third in the Barcelona feature race. Though his results were inconsistent, this should improve with the change of team.

Big changes at Spa and the Red Bull Ring

Renault have announced today that what Eddie Jordan said about Bruno Senna replacing Nick Heidfeld for the remainder of the season is at least partly-true. The Brazilian driver will be taking Quick Nick’s place at Spa – a track he has experience of in the car from a World Series by Renault demo earlier in the year. Check out his video here.

In the other series who return this weekend, there are changes in GP3 and Formula Two. In GP3, ART have dropped Brazilian Pedro Nunes for German F3 leader Richie Stanaway, Jenzer have replaced Vittorio Ghirelli with Alex Fontana, and Mucke Motorsport have dropped Luciano Bacheta for Daniel Mancinelli.
Italian driver Mancinelli is currently competing in Italian F3, though since winning the first race he has struggled. Last season he came fourth in the series. Kiwi Stanaway has won all but three German F3 races this season and taken a lot of pole positions too. Swiss Alex Fontana currently leads the European F3 Open.

In F2, Jose Luis Abadin is unable to take part at the Red Bull Ring but will return to Monza. Luciano Bacheta will make his F2 debut at the ring as will Austrian driver Rene Binder. Binder will be in the 25 car and Bacheta in the 26 car.
Rene Binder is also taking part in German F3. He is currently 8th in the series having taken a podium in the second race. Luciano Bacheta picked up his only GP3 points this season at Silverstone after some good tyre strategy.

In GP2, the lineup from Hungary will be retained, with Filippi driving for Coloni and Aleshin for Carlin.

Mancinelli goes to Mucke

Italian F3 driver Daniel Mancinelli will be driving for Mucke Motorsport in the last two rounds of the GP3 season according to the Italian press. The team have not said anything about who he will be replacing, but with Nigel Melker competing for the championship, and Michael Christensen taking two podiums, it is likely to be Luciano Bacheta whom he replaces. Bacheta has only scored points once this season, in the race at Silverstone when most drivers had to pit at the end of their warm-up lap for wet tyres. Bacheta’s good strategy call allowed him to finish fifth.
Overall, he is simply doing worse than his teammates, and it makes sense for him to be replaced. It will be disappointing for him not to see out the end of the season. If Carlin had not already used up their quota of drivers for the season (5 max – Dillmann, Daly, Cordeiro, Morad and MacLeod) I would say he could go there.

Daniel has been in Italian F3 since 2010. He had a great first season and finished fourth, taking two wins including one from pole. He also had five other podiums and a fastest lap, finishing 10 points behind Andrea Caldarelli, 15 behind Stephane Richelmi, and 23 behind Cesar Ramos, but ahead of Christopher Zanella and Gabby Chaves. This season having won the first race, his points have been limited and he struggled in Spa, so he is tenth. But there are still four races to go, none of which clash with the GP3 races, so he still has a good chance.

Thanks to @remdev80 for pointing this news out to me.

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)