Penalties for Karthikeyan, Ericsson and Teixeira

F1
Narain Karthikeyan was given a 20-second penalty after the race in Malaysia for causing the collision with Sebastian Vettel. Considering how wet the edges of the track were at the time, and how the Indian needed to move away from the edges to make sure he didn’t spin, I’m not sure he was to blame. Vettel should have given the HRT more room – it was a wide stretch of track – and been less enthusiastic to move onto the racing line.

GP3
As expected, Antonio Felix da Costa has been confirmed at Carlin for 2012. The Portuguese driver who won the final GP3 race last year with Status, will be Alex Brundle’s teammate. da Costa was 2009 FR NEC champion and came third in the Eurocup. Clearly talented, he should have a great year at the British team.

F2
2010 champion Dean Stoneman returns to F2 for the pre-season test at Silverstone this week. The Brit, who was due to drive in FR 3.5 last season but was diagnosed with cancer, has made a good recovery. It is possible that he will be back in the series this year.

GP2
Marcus Ericsson was handed a 10-place grid penalty for the accident with Davide Valsecchi’s during the weekend’s sprint race. The Italian had gone off the road trying to overtake Luiz Razia, and when he came back onto the track, the Swede hit him and caused the car to flip over. GP2 cars are built to F1 safety standards, which was good news for the Indian. iSport believe the penalty to be unfair.
Meanwhile Ricardo Teixeira was fined for coming back onto the track in an unsafe manner. The Angolan driver had gone the wrong way down the access road after going off the track, then turned himself around once back on it.

Mega rookie win for Calado

The GP2 sprint race in Malaysia was well worth waking up early for, with some of the best driving seem on track so far this year. Polesitter Calado led the cars around, but it was always close between him and his teammate Esteban Gutierrez. The British rookie, taking part in only his fourth GP2 race (including the final), took his second victory. Gutierrez was also followed closely, with reigning British F3 champion Felipe Nasr always on the lookout for an overtaking opportunity. Though Nasr didn’t manage it, he did take his first GP2 podium.
Giedo van der Garde had a cracking start and soon found himself overtaking Fabio Leimer for fourth, while Stefano Coletti struggled somewhat. Coletti had difficulties with his car, and retired in the closing laps. Behind Leimer, there was some fantastic racing between Valsecchi and Razia, with Chilton close behind. Razia did a fantastic job of defending from the Italian, and overtook Leimer in the final laps. Valsecchi ran wide trying to overtake his former teammate, came back on track and was clipped by Marcus Ericsson. The DAMS rolled, while Ericsson stopped on track. Both drivers were fine, and the iSport car was cleared incredibly quickly with no need for a safety car.
This let Max Chilton and Nathanael Berthon get up behind Razia – at this point in eighth and ninth. The trio were catching Coletti, and Razia quickly overtook. Behind, an incredible scrap for the final two points positions took place. So far, this is one of the best pieces of driving I have seen in 2012. Chilton tried to overtake Coletti, and while the Monegasque driver was defending the Carlin, Berthon got ahead of both of them, then Chilton came back and overtook Berthon leaving Coletti behind. At this point the Coloni was struggling, however, and soon fell back.
Out of the points, Tom Dillmann was showing his potential with some great overtaking. Ricardo Teixeira was struggling to race against himself, let alone other drivers.

Luiz Razia now leads the championship with Valsecchi second and Calado third. But anything could happen between now and the end of the season. It’s a long one, with rounds to come at Bahrain and Singapore as well as the usual European races. It is going to be great!

Calado flies under the desert sun

There were two great races today in Abu Dhabi. First the GP2 cars fought under the sun, and then the F1 cars chased each other in the early evening. The F1 report will come later.

James Calado, ART’s new signing for 2012, started from pole. He was closely chased in the race, particularly in the first few laps when there were less than three seconds between the top five: Calado, da Costa, Ericsson, Razia and Dillmann. But Calado maintained his lead, eventually pulling away as da Costa was under pressure from Ericsson and eventually gave way. Next it was Razia’s turn. The AirAsia driver got ahead, and da Costa severely cut the corner to get the position back. He was given a drive-through penalty.
Mihai Marinescu crashed, causing yellow flags which were ignored once by Razia and Leal, but twice by Ricci. Leal and Razia both had drive-through penalties, while Ricci had a stop-and-go. By the final lap, there was a massive battle for fifth with Leimer pushing Stefano Coletti. Behind were Esteban Gutierrez, Kevin Ceccon, Alex Rossi and Luiz Razia. Leimer tangled with Coletti, putting the Monegasque driver out. The final lap was an almighty scrap, with several drivers going wide on the final corner. Gutierrez, who had started 21st, took fifth. Ceccon took sixth. Rossi and Razia came seventh and eighth, allowing the Brazilian to take the point for fastest lap.
Marcus Ericsson finished second behind Calado, while his iSport teammate and GP3 graduate Tom Dillmann came third. Jolyon Palmer finished fourth. As the best GP3 graduates, Calado and Dillmann earn monetary rewards from Pirelli; they had equal points, but Calado’s win gives him the 15,000 Euros.

Dominant win for Leimer

The GP2 final race proved today that it is definitely possible to overtake without DRS at Yas Marina. Polesitter Fabio Leimer had a good start while Dani Clos fell between Josef Kral and Luiz Razia. They went three-wide into the first corner – Luiz Razia came out on top while Clos caused Kral to spin and soon retired himself. Behind, Jolyon Palmer found himself in third place, with a few other drivers behind including GP3’s Tom Dillmann.
Max Chilton was another early retiree, as his brakes stopped working and he hit the barrier at turn one. Esteban Gutierrez had technical problems and finished a lap behind along with Stephane Richelmi.
During the race there were scraps up and down the field. Marcus Ericsson overtook his teammate and eventually finished fourth, but he was battling closely with Palmer through the final laps. Fifth was Kevin Ceccon, much improved since his first stint in GP2 earlier in the season. Then came three GP3 drivers – Tom Dillmann, Antonio Felix da Costa, and James Calado. But in my opinion Tom Dillmann has been the best of the rookies so far, displaying great pace throughout the weekend.
Fabio Leimer took the fastest lap on the way to victory, and Luiz Razia did not let him escape too far ahead. Jolyon Palmer also showed himself well with Addax as he took his first ever points finish and podium.

Tomorrow, the first three grid positions will be taken by Calado, da Costa and Dillmann. Good luck GP3 grads!

Ericsson continues with iSport

GP2’s iSport International team today announced half of their 2012 lineup, along with their two drivers for the final in two weeks’ time. Marcus Ericsson, one half of the team’s lineup this season, will continue to race for them next year and will also participate in the final. Alongside him in Abu Dhabi will be GP3’s Tom Dillmann. As far as I am aware, Tom is the second GP3 driver to be signed up for the final after James Calado.
For the final, Pirelli will be awarding a cash prize to the top two points-scoring GP3 graduates; 15,000 Euros to the best, and 10,000 to the second-best. Hopefully, more GP3 graduates will be signed up to give Tom and James a run for their money.

For the current finals lineup and 2012 lineup, check the links above in the GP2 section.

Summer day 19 – Marcus Ericsson

Marcus Ericsson – 9
Marcus Ericsson and his teammate Sam Bird have had an interesting season. The lowest point came at the Monaco Grand Prix, when Sam was starting on pole. After he stalled, the two drivers ended up competing with each other, and took each other out in the feature race. They had another altercation in the sprint, causing Marcus to retire.
Well, whatever iSport did it got them friendly again, and they have both been challenging well for championship points so that iSport are currently third in the championship. Swede Marcus has picked up two podiums this season and also had a fourth place and three fifth places. At Istanbul he was the guy who missed out on the points in both races (9th in the feature, 8th in the sprint) and he had a good sprint in Valencia to come back to 11th after retiring in the feature to start 24th for the next race. Qualifying-wise he is getting better, having had a few bad ones but not out of the top ten for the last three rounds. In fact, he started third at the Hungaroring – his best of the year.

Points: 25
Best qualifying: 3
Worst qualifying: 20
Best finish: 3 (Barcelona sprint, Silverstone feature)
Worst finish: 15 (Hungaroring sprint)
Retirements: 4 (1 classified)

Debut pole for Razia and AirAsia

Celebrations today for Caterham Team AirAsia as they took pole by 0.140s ahead of Luca Filippi – admittedly, they were helped by a spin from Adam Carroll in the middle sector which caused yellow flags to be waved, and Filippi had to abandon his hot lap. However, Luiz Razia had been fast all session and you take the chances where you can. He completely deserves to have pole.
This is Luiz’s first ever GP2 pole position, though he has previously been a race winner in 2009 with Scuderia Coloni in Italy. It is also the team’s first pole, coming hot on the heels of their win at Monaco when polesitter Sam Bird stalled off the line. Seize the day. AirAsia’s form has been up and down this season, with the team sometimes finishing in the points and sometimes barely finishing at all. But Monaco shares similar characteristics with Hungary so the team should do well on both tracks.
On the second row behind Razia and Filippi are Marcus Ericsson and Charles Pic, with the two French drivers Romain Grosjean and Jules Bianchi on row three. However, Bianchi is in trouble for an incident with Julian Leal, and may end up losing some grid positions. Davide Valsecchi has been penalised 5 grid places from the German GP, and starts 19th.

Meanwhile, in Formula One the fastest lap each session was taken by Lewis Hamilton as the Red Bulls continue to fall back into the main field. They’ve lost their edge over everyone else. For once, Jarno Trulli was enjoying his power steering, and went faster than his teammate in the second session. Webber clipped the astroturf at turn 9 during the first session, bashing off his front wing for a marshall’s souvienir, immitating GP3’s Luciano Bacheta, who had rolled severely at the same place in their first practice session. Webber was faster than Vettel in the second session, but still only finished fourth. Vettel was fifth. Button and Alonso were both faster than the Red Bulls.

In GP3 practice, aside from Bacheta’s roll it was fairly standard. The amazing guys at Mucke Motorsport managed to get a new car built up for the young Brit for practice two. He didn’t quite have the pace, but seems confident for qualifying tomorrow morning. Fastest in P2 was last week’s race winner Valtteri Bottas, with James Calado, Tom Dillmann, Mitch Evans, Antonio Felix da Costa, Rio Haryanto, Nico Muller and many other drivers close behind. Surprisingly, Ivan Lukashevich got himself 13th fastest, buoyed by the support from the Russian fans who had travelled to the circuit. But there’s all to play for tomorrow morning in qualifying.

GP2 and GP3 races report

Watching the GP2 and GP3 races was hard this afternoon. Not because of the races, which were very exciting, but because of the Portuguese commentators who did their best to make them sound as boring as possible.

GP2
Lots of drivers did well today. Starting in the rain behind the safety car, the drivers changed to slicks as soon as the pit lane opened. But Bianchi delayed and cut his advantage to Christian Vietoris. The ART and Racing Engineering drivers battled in the second-half of the race, but Bianchi took the win with Vietoris taking his first GP2 points in second. Swede Marcus Ericsson finished 3rd with iSport. Meanwhile, Romain Grosjean finished 4th from 13th, Stefano Coletti finished 7th from 21st, and Van der Garde finished 8th from 19th. Dani Clos took 6th to give Racing Engineering a double points finish, and Bird did the same for iSport by finishing 5th.

GP3
The grid was dry, but as they pulled away for the formation lap it began to rain. Many drivers were on slicks and pulled in to change tyres. But a few smart drivers from the back of the grid had the right tyres on. Swiss driver Nico Muller found himself in the lead with pointless Nick Yelloly and Luciano Bacheta behind him. Behind them, the front half of the grid were trying desperately to make up for their mistake.
It was Alex Sims and Adrian Quaiffe-Hobbs who made up the most. Sims overtook Yelloly right at the end, and Quaiffe-Hobbs finished 4th. Bacheta scored his first points, meaning every single Mucke Motorsport driver has scored points in the season and promoting the team to 2nd in the championship. Behind Bacheta came James Calado for ART, Lewis Williamson for Arden, and Dean Smith for Addax. Not only does this mean that all seven British drivers finished in the points – and will take pole to P7 in tomorrow’s sprint race – but every team except for Carlin and Tech 1 scored points. A fantastic and unusual result. Thomas Hylkema managed his first race finish.

Mitch Evans still leads the GP3 championship on 26 points, but he is only one point ahead of Alex Sims and four ahead of the struggling Nigel Melker, who had another DNF today. James Calado is fifth with 19 points, and Adrian Quaife-Hobbs is 6th with 19 points. Watch out Mitch, the British are coming!
In GP2, Romain Grosjean now has 40 points. Giedo van der Garde is second on 34 points, while Sam Bird is now third with 31. 10 points behind his Davide Valsecchi, who had a bad race. Jules Bianchi has closed the gap to his compatriot – he has 20 points and is 7th behind Charles Pic with 24.

Hopefully final GP2 qualifying standings

I knew there were more penalties coming. Romain Grosjean, who has been allowed to drive, has been handed an imaginary 5-place grid penalty (he starts from the back of the grid anyway). Marcus Ericsson has also been given one for crashing into the back of his teammate’s car, as has Giedo van der Garde, who should have been on pole, for causing a collision with with Oliver Turvey. This is the second race in a row that Grosjean has started from the back of the grid, and if he drives well he might do even better than in Barcelona, where he was able to finish close to the points.
The revised standings mean that Sam Bird takes the two points for pole, with Davide Valsecchi joining him on the front row. Tony Fernandes’ team are doing well this year in the series. Stefano Coletti has also been able to start from P4 at his home race. The table below shows the positions for the grid. Each * represents a 5-place grid penalty. Each + represents a place gained because of someone else’s penalty.

Row

1

1+

Sam Bird
iSport

2++

Davide Valsecchi
AirAsia

2

3++

Alvaro Parente
Racing Eng

4++

Stefano Coletti
Trident

3

5++

Josef Kral
Arden

6*

Giedo van der Garde
Addax

4

7+

Max Chilton
Carlin

8*

Jules Bianchi
ART

5

9

Esteban Gutierrez
ART

10

Johnny Cecotto
Ocean

6

11

Luca Filippi
Super Nova

12

Charles Pix
Addax

7

13

Rodolfo Gonzalez
Trident

14

Fabio Leimer
Rapax

8

15+

Oliver Turvey
Carlin

16+

Luiz Razia
AirAsia

9

17+

Dani Clos
Racing Eng

18+

Jolyon Palmer
Arden

10

19+

Julian Leal
Rapax

20*

Marcus Ericsson
iSport

11

21

Kevin Ceccon
Coloni

22

Fairuz Fauzy
Super Nova

12

23

Kevin Mirocha
Ocean

24

Michael Herck
Coloni

13

25

Pal Varhaug
DAMS

26*

Romain Grosjean
DAMS

GP2 and GP3 race 2

GP3
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.

GP2
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.