Kaltenborn to become first female Team Principal

Monisha Kaltenborn is set to become the first female Team Principal in F1 following Peter Sauber’s intention to resign at the end of this season. Kaltenborn, who has been involved in F1 and motorsport for many years, will be a great replacement for Sauber’s namesake and founder. Monisha is currently CEO, and I expect her to do a great job. She is only 40 years old and hopefully we will have plenty of years with her around the paddock. It’s nice to see Team Principals who are experienced in motorsport, rather than wealthy businessmen (ie: Mallya and Fernandes).

It was confirmed today that Romanian Mihai Marinescu will return to the series for 2012. He did very well towards the second half of the season last year, and should be challenging for wins and the championship.

Pre-season testing returns with two days at Silverstone this week. Notably, the Status lineup includes British driver Alice Powell. Alice is undoubtedly one of the most talented young female drivers out there, and will be competitive – unlike the other two girls on the grid. However, you have to wonder if there are even more talented male drivers who are being left out because teams want a female driver.
If Alice is hired by Status, I expect her to pick up a few points finishes at least this year. She did reasonably well in Formula Renault UK last year, and I can’t recall her ever being a backmarker.
The unsigned Will Buller is another unsigned British face who will be at Carlin. Meanwhile RSC Mucke Motorsport have once again failed to make an appearance. Surely it would be better for them to sell the GP3 team on to somebody else who wants to participate? Unlike F1, there are no excuses for missing testing since the chassis are made by Dallara. And there must be a lot of young drivers who want to drive in the series.

Nobody wants to make a decision. The general feeling of fans particularly is negative though a few faces have said F1 should go. As for me, I think F1’s reputation will struggle to survive if it goes ahead, especially if something happens. All the media and team members who go out there are incredibly brave. But it should not need to come to that. I won’t re-hash arguments again; you all know where I stand.

This weekend I’m going to Silverstone for the opening round of the Formula Two. I’ll come back with loads of pictures and autographs, and hopefully an exciting story of an amazing day out.

Summer day 25 – Nigel Melker

Nigel Melker – 3
There’s no better way to start your GP3 season than by winning a race, and that was what Nigel Melker did. In the first two rounds he qualified well, but after that he had a severe drop in performance. After winning the Istanbul feature race he came third in the sprint, then came sixth in the feature at Barcelona and second in the sprint. After that, however, Nigel was on a points drought. He had retirements in both Valencia and Silverstone, though he came eighth from starting 27th in the Silverstone sprint. Finally he returned to form at the Nurburgring, coming tenth in the feature before sailing to third with the fastest lap in the sprint. At Hungary, he came eighth in the feature but dropped back in the next race to finish fourth with the fastest lap. Despite his struggle, however, he only dropped to fifth because of the close field, and is only eight points below championship leader Valtteri Bottas.

Points: 32
Best qualifying: 2
Worst qualifing: 27
Best finish: 1 (Istanbul feature)
Worst finish: 19 (Valencia sprint)
Retirements: 2

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.

Summer day 16 – Michael Christensen

Michael Christensen – 12
A rare Dane in motor racing, Michael Christensen has been having a reasonably good season. After a great first round at Istanbul, he had already achieved a podium by coming second in the sprint race. After that, his Barcelona results were a bit rubbish, and he had a terrible weekend at Valencia when he failed to finish either race. Since then he has retired twice, and not had fantastic results, but the feature race at the Hungaroring went in his favour as he finished second and took the fastest lap. The conditions in the sprint race went against him, however, and he finished 13th.

Points: 16
Best qualifying: 5
Worst qualifing: 29
Best finish: 2 (Istanbul sprint, Hungaroring feature)
Worst finish: 18 (Barcelona feature)
Retirements: 4 (1 classified)

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)

GP3 Race 1 quotes 2011

Addax were the only team to have two drivers finishing in the points

For the first time this weekend a real smile on my face! Great job by the team. Good strategy and a great pitstop! From 12th to 4th!
@GvanderGarde (Giedo van der Garde, Addax, P4)
Very good start to the season. The two drivers finished in the points. The team starts third overall. Van der Garde: fantastic race. Starts 11 and has finished 4th. Undoubtedly shows that he is among the best you have to count on. And Pic: spectacular he has not stopped going up from 15 throughout the race to finish 7th.
@addaxteam (Addax, P4 & P7)

Nigel Melker started in P3 but jumped Andrea Caldarelli for P1.

First in the first GP3 of the season, Yes.
@nigelmelker (Nigel Melker, Mucke, P1)

P3 for my first race in GP3! Lost two places at the start, it was my first one with a hand clutch. Pole + Podium, GREAT DAY! 🙂
@TomDillmann (Tom Dillmann, Carlin, P3)

Alex Sims overcame his penalty, and with the first 8 positions reversed for the race tomorrow, he will be on pole.

Ok… A reasonable recovery. I got up to 6th which would have been great but went wide at the infamous Turn 8 and ended 8th. Pole for tomoro
@simsracing (Alex Sims, Status, P8)

Another hard day for me. Struggled in qualy, and crashed in race 1. Hard to make it up for race 2, but Ill do my best.
@PedroHNunes (Pedro Nunes, ART, P22)

GP3 Teams Nearly Full

The final drivers are beginning to be confirmed for GP2 and GP3. In the GP3 newsletter today all but one driver had been confirmed.
At Status Grand Prix, Ivan Lukashevich is retained for another year. The 19-year-old Russian who turns 20 in about a week is sponsored by Marussia Motors, which is especially confusing because Marussia also sponsor Manor Motorsport.
The two gaps at Addax have been filled by Dominic Storey as expected, and British driver Dean Smith. Dean drove for Carlin last season, and had soon good results allowing him a 7th place finish. He was on the podium once, and hopefully should do even better this year!
British driver Luciano Bacheta has joined RSC Mucke for 2011. He finished 2nd last year in the FR 2.0 Eurocup. He wins the award for the ‘least Britsh name for a British driver’ award, which naturally he has taken from Dario Franchitti. He replaces Willi Steindl, who was originally signed up for car 29.
While Carlin still has a TBC, it’s expected to be filled by Leonardo Cordeiro as I said before.

In GP2, Davide Rigon returns after a year away, changing from Trident to Coloni – the Italian team lost their driver James Jakes to IndyCar, having run him for one race in GP2 Asia. Jakes stands at 22nd in the current IndyCar season.

For more information on who is likely to take which place in the GP2 teams, see my last post.

GP3 sees Christensen change teams

Danish driver Michael Christensen has left Arden and joined Mucke for 2011. He didn’t have any points last year and his best finish in a race was 10th, but he arrived in GP3 from a 4th-place finish in Formula BMW. He’ll be in car number 30. In winter testing, he set the third-best overall time at Silverstone, and was midfield at Barcelona.

There are still a large number of places to be filled in GP3. Addax have two slots, Carlin one, and Status one. They may go with the drivers who have been taking part in winter testing, or choose other drivers. Addax went with Thomas Hylkema (NED) at both tests, Daniel Morad (CAN) at Barcelona, Fernando Monje (ESP) and Simon Moss (RSA) at Silverstone. Carlin went with Kotaro Sakurai (JPN) at Silverstone and Leonardo Cordeiro (BRA) at Barcelona. Status ran Ivan Lukashevich (RUS) at both tests.