GP2 testing begins

HRT passed their crash tests, and hope to be present for at least some of the final test session in Barcelona. Marussia, however, were not so lucky. They have failed their final crash test and will not be able to properly test the car until first practice in Melbourne.
A clarification of F1 regulations means that Red Bull and Ferrari will only be able to test their cars from Thursday until Sunday. Teams are not allowed to test in the week before the first race of the season, which the teams believed meant from the Monday before the race. However, the regulations have been clarified to mean the first Monday-Sunday week without an event before the first race of the season. This also means that Lotus will not be able to have five days of testing after they missed out at the last test.

As testing commences, more drivers have been confirmed. Luiz Razia has changed to Arden, while Caterham brings in their F1 tester Giedo van der Garde, and Venezuelan Rodolfo Gonzalez.
Present at the test but not confirmed for 2012 are Nathanael Berthon (Racing Engineering), Dani Clos and Daniel de Jong (Rapax), Vittorio Ghirelli (Lazarus) and Tom Dillmann (Ocean Racing Tech).

This morning the fastest driver was DAMS’s Davide Valsecchi, second was Fabio Onidi (Trident), third was 2010 F2 runner-up Jolyon Palmer (iSport). Palmer’s teammate Marcus Ericsson was fourth-fastest. Notably both Lotus GP/ART drivers set great times, with Gutierrez fifth and GP3 graduate Calado sixth.

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

F1 report – Abu Dhabi

Sunday was a bad day for Sebastian Vettel. First he had trouble with his hire car when entering the circuit – specifically, locking it! And when he began the race, he made it less than two corners before getting a puncture. Lewis Hamilton cannot have believed his luck as he saw the Red Bull spin off. Though Vettel made it back to the pits, he had damaged his suspension too much to continue.
Hamilton took his chance as his teammate was overtaken by Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard pushed hard all race, and at one point he came close to the Brit, but was unable to get there in the end. Behind, Jenson Button could not keep up due to a KERS failure in the first half of the race. He took the third spot on the podium.
One driver down, Red Bull botched Webber’s first stop and ended up moving him to a three-stop strategy. He went onto soft tyres for the first three stints, then did the final lap on hard tyres. This strategy allowed him to beat Felipe Massa, but I am sure the Aussie would much rather not have been racing the Brazilian, who as usual was in a race of his own.
Rosberg came home first in the Mercedes, with Sutil eighth and di Resta ninth on a failed one-stop strategy. Unfortunately, the Force India was just too hard on its tyres.
First of the lapped drivers was Kobayashi, scoring a rare point for Sauber, and Perez was eleventh. Barrichello finished 12th having started last, and behind him was Petrov. In fourteenth and fifteenth were Maldonado and Alguersuari. Maldonado was penalised twice for ignoring blue flags, the second time resulting in a stop-and-go penalty that became 30s of added time. Alguersuari had a drive-through for the same reason. Sixteenth was Senna, who also had a drive-through for ignoring blue flags and finished three seconds ahead of Kovalainen. Just as in Singapore, the Lotus was closing on the Renault in the final lap.
Trulli, who was ill this weekend, finished over a minute behind his teammate. Glock and Liuzzi followed the Italian home. Aside from Vettel, the retirements were Jerome d’Ambrosio, Sebastien Buemi and Daniel Ricciardo. All suffered mechanical failures.

In the news, reliable journalist Joe Saward has reported that Charles Pic will be driving for Marussia next season alongside Timo Glock. The French driver had a great season in GP2, driving for team champions Addax. He won twice, also finishing second on three occasions. He took pole in Valencia, at the Nurburgring and at Monza, and had only two points less than runner-up Luca Filippi at the end of the season. The French press have also reported this, and the driver will not be testing with Team Lotus as he was initially going to. Instead, Rodolfo Gonzalez will be in the car.
Meanwhile, with Renault confirming that Robert Kubica almost certainly not going to be driving at the start of the season, it seems most likely that Vitaly Petrov and Romain Grosjean will be driving for Lotus next year. (Renault, of course, will become Lotus after the end of this season)

Summer day 4 – Rodolfo Gonzalez

Rodolfo Gonzalez – 24
One of two Venezuelans in GP2, Rodolfo Gonzalez has struggled to score points this year. His Trident teammate Stefano Coletti has recently come into his own to win the wet/dry/wet race at the Hungaroring – the team can do strategy. Indeed, Gonzalez finished 9th in that race, and has also had another 9th place and a 10th place finish. His qualifying has generally been poor, and his results vary wildly through the field. However, he has finished just outside the points on enough occasions that he should be a good contender in the future.

Best qualifying: 13
Worst qualifying: 25
Best finish: 9 (Nurburgring feature, Hungaroring sprint)
Worst finish: 22nd (Istanbul sprint)
Retirements: 4

GP2 Qualifying Quotes Turkey 11

Romain Grosjean takes his third pole in succession, having taken both in GP2 Asia. Here’s some quotes from some GP2 drivers’ and teams’ Twitter accounts on qualifying:

Happy to start again on pole tomorrow. Great job!
@RGrosjean (Romain Grosjean, DAMS, P1)

Good job today by Carlin, was p.6 in wet practice and p.10 in qualy but was blocked on a few laps! Bring on tomorrow!
@F1MAX (Max Chilton, Carlin, P10)

Really bad qualy, p12 the car is not there. And I was not really lucky with Red flags.. Tomorrow new day and let’s aim for top 5
@GvanderGarde (Giedo van der Garde, DAMS, P11)

difficult quall with red flags and so on. my free prac i am not happy with my driving. was driving like my grandmother! not really but close
@varhaug (Pal Varhaug, DAMS, P21)

A difficult qualifying, I could only pull one fast lap as I found many yellow and red flags, and traffic on the track. The good news is that the car felt very competitive, just had very bad luck … Tomorrow will be working hard towards the car going well
@RSpeedyGonzalez (Rodolfo Gonzalez, Trident, P26)

Great result for Bird who will be on front row tomorrow with Ericsson P18. Well done team!!! 🙂
@iSportOfficial (iSport, P2 & P17)

Van der Garde complains of understeer on new car. A classification with 3 red flags keeps the mood for tomorrow’s race. Pic spoiled his best lap in the final sector. Although he was able to improve on the final lap. Expected to improve tomorrow
@addaxteam (Addax, P7 & P11)

‎Mikhail Aleshin so unlucky today! Wishing him a speedy recovery. Great job by Max Chilton who will carry the Carlin baton alone from P10 on the grid tomorrow
@CarlinRacing (Carlin, P10 & injured)

In other news, d’Ambrosio has been given the first F1 grid-place penalty of the year. When Maldonado crashed out at the end of FP2, he was judged to have not responded to the yellow flags, and thus will be demoted five places for the race on Sunday.