Power does what it says on the tin

After last week’s opening round of the 2012 IndyCar series season, I didn’t have high hopes for today’s race. But what a race it was! It seems all Indy needs for a decent race is a proper track and fewer caution periods. Surprisingly, there were only two in the whole race!
Strategy was still important, but Will Power capitalised on a pit stop error from Scott Dixon’s team to take the lead after the second restart. With only a few laps to go, he pulled slowly away for his first win of the season. Behind, polesitter Helio Castroneves was third after a tussle between himself, Graham Rahal and brilliant rookie Simon Pagenaud in the final laps.
Sixth was James Hinchcliffe, while Mike Conway capitalised on the restart and a struggling Andretti to take seventh. Barrichello was challenging Conway in those final laps, having gained several places on the restart, but lost distance to the Brit while trying to overtake Andretti. The Brazilian finally managed it and finished eighth. This left Sebastien Bourdais sandwiched between Andretti and Dario Franchitti. Bourdais in the Lotus-engined car did brilliantly, and took ninth. In a race to the line, reigning champion Franchitti just beat Andretti to tenth.

Auto GP
At Valencia it was chamionship leader Adrian Quaife-Hobbs who shone. The Super Nova driver, still in his 2011 Marussia Manor overalls, got up to third by the end of the first lap but made an early pit call to get fresh tyres that saw him in the lead after everyone had pitted. Meanwhile Facu Regalia took second, holding off Sergey Sirotkin. Daniel de Jong managed fourth for Manor, while Victor Guerin was able to finally have a good race and finished fifth. Rounding off the points were Max Snegirev, Chris van der Drift and Pal Varhaug.
Quaife-Hobbs now leads the championship by 21 points from Pal Varhaug, while Sirotkin is only 5 behind the Norwegian driver. Both Manor drivers are on 37 points, with Facu Regalia 2 behind them.
In the teams’ championship, Super Nova have overtaken Manor and lead by 11 points. Euronova are third, with Virtuosi UK sinking to fourth. Campos Racing, who have scored points with at least two of their three drivers in every race, are fifth.

The Superstars series saw some brilliant racing from former HRT driver Tonio Liuzzi. Starting from the back row in the first race he finished third. This left him sixth in the reversed grid second race, where he dominated and won the race. The Italian is definitely going to be one of the title favourites, though he is currently second in the championship as Max Pigoli – who won the first race – came second in the second race.

In the first BTCC weekend, there was some incredible racing. A seven-car pile-up in the final race caused a red flag, and experienced racer Jason Plato was fourth just after the restart. As the cars ahead faded, Andrew Jordan and Jason Plato fought through and Plato keep pushing the Honda driver. Finding a gap, Plato got into the lead with five laps to go and won the first race for his new team despite their not testing until a week ago. The other races were won by Rob Collard and Matt Neal. Plato now leads the championship ahead of Neal and Jordan.

The WTCC races were won by Yvan Muller and Alain Menu respectively.

Varhaug wins second Auto GP race

Auto GP
The second race of the weekend got underway with a great race from winner Pal Varhaug. Virtuosi UK made a great pit stop to get him into the lead from his start in seventh. It was a close race throughout until lap 10, with 0.3s between van der Drift, Spavone, Campana and Guerin. Guerin took polesitter Campana out as he locked his brakes into the first chicane. With Spavone taking the escape road, it was all the opportunity Adrian Quaife-Hobbs needed to take third. Van der Drift finished 3.5s behind Varhaug, and 1s ahead of yesterday’s race winner. Sergey Sirotkin barely lost out to Quaife-Hobbs, the Russian making a magnificent comeback after his stall from race 1 left him at the back on the grid and taking fastest lap once again.

Adrian and Pal are tied for points at the top of the championship, though in the under-21 championship it is the Brit who leads as van der Drift is over 21. The Kiwi sits in third ahead of his Manor MP teammate de Jong, who retired from race 2. Fifth is Facu Regalia, and Sirotkin is sixth. In the team’s championship, Manor MP are leading due to the consistency of their drivers – both Super Nova and Virtuosi UK have only score points from one driver.

There is a two-day GP3 test in Barcelona starting tomorrow, and as well as the signed drivers the teams are testing a number of potentials. At Lotus GP, Carlos Sainz Jr [taking part in British F3 this year]; at Status, Kotaro Sakurai [British F3 National class champion] and Tom Blomqvist [FRUK 2010 champion]; Maxim Zimin will be at Jenzer; Antonio Spavone and Kevin Ceccon [Auto GP champion] at Trident; Antonio Felix da Costa and Will Buller [Fourth in British F3] at Carlin; and Tamas Pal Kiss and John Wartique at Atech CRS.

Quaife-Hobbs takes Auto GP victory

Auto GP
The first race of the season began with 16-year-old Sergey Sirotkin stalling on the grid. Adrian Quaife-Hobbs maintained his lead, but was closely folowed by Sergio Campana. Despite being held up by the delayed Sirotkin after his pit stop, Quaife-Hobbs was still able to hold position over Campana to take a close win. Behind them, Pal Varhaug found himself in third where the Norwegian maintained a decent gap between himself and those on either side. Chris van der Drift began well for Manor MP, but a mistake coming out of Parabolica saw him lose places. Though he fought back, taking as late a pit stop as possible, he was only able to finish sixth. His teammate Daniel de Jong gained several positions to finish fourth on the road.
However, the MLR71 team were discovered after the race to have changed the front tyres instead of the rear tyres. All teams had been instructed to change the rear tyres at Monza. This meant Campana and Michele La Rosa both received 1-minute penalties, promoting Varhaug to second and de Jong to third. Campana was demoted to tenth.
Sirotkin took the point for fastest lap, which doesn’t really make up for his stall but it’s forgivable with the Russian’s limited experience. Quaife-Hobbs leads the championship with 26 points – 25 for his win, and one for pole. While we don’t know if he will be driving in the next round, it seems highly likely considering his brilliant performance today. Incredibly, the Brit had never done a standing start in the car before today, and it was also his first ever pit stop.
The second race is at 10:45 GMT tomorrow, where Antonio Spavone starts from pole having finished eighth after Campana’s penalty. Former F2 driver Max Snegirev starts next to him.

Ocean Racing Technology announced their first GP3 drivers today. Spanish driver Carmen Jorda, who participated in some of the 2010 Indy Lights series and has taken podiums in the F3 Open Copa F306/300, will join Irish driver Robert Cregan. Cregan was driving in V8 supercars last year, and he came second in the UAE GT Championship for the GTC classification. He last drove in single-seaters back in 2006 for the FFord 1600 Walter Hayes Trophy.

FR 3.5
Giovanni Venturini will take the final space on the grid in the series, partnering Nicolay Martsenko. Initially Daniel Zampieri had been suggsted at the team. Venturini comes from Auto GP, where he finished ninth with two wins and one pole position.

Adrian Quaife-Hobbs takes Auto GP pole at Monza

Auto GP
The Auto GP season kicked off at Monza today with sixteen drivers battling for pole position. In the end, it went to former GP3 race winner Adrian Quaife-Hobbs, driving for Super Nova. Adrian, like Super Nova, is British. Russian driver Sergey Sirotkin will line up next to the Brit, having gone just 0.041s slower; Sirotkin is the current Formula Arbath Europe champion, and Formula Arbath Italy runner-up.
Third was Sergio Campana, an Italian, driving for Team MLR71. Campana is the current Italian F3 champion, despite only winning two races in the year. Pal Varhaug was fourth, while former Superleague Formula driver Chris van der Drift will start fifth.

FR 3.5
Since Arden announced their partnership with Caterham, today’s driver announcement has been on the cards. Alexander Rossi, who has been supported by AirAsia – which of course means Tony Fernandes and Caterham – since their driver academy began last year, will partner Red Bull-supported Lewis Williamson. There are strong ties between Arden and Caterham, partly thanks to Red Bull supplying the F1 team with gearboxes. Christian Horner and his family founded Arden initially so that Christian could race before he realised he was better at management. Heikki Kovalainen drove for Arden in his GP2 days. It is also interesting that former Caterham AirAsia driver Luiz Razia has moved to the Arden GP2 team this year.
So Alex Rossi will be at Arden-Caterham, and as well as that he will be a test driver for the F1 team. Rossi has a very good chance of winning the FR 3.5 championship this year, with more experience than some of the other brilliant drivers in the series. There is going to be some fantastic racing there!

The series has announced its fifth driver for 2012 today, in the form of Alex Fontana. Fontana won Swiss F3 in his debut season last year, and also participated in two GP3 races scoring 1 point (he was sixth in the Belgium sprint). Fontana, currently the youngest to sign for F2 this year, will be in car number 10.

Super Nova fill up the grid

From 2008-2010, Giacomo Ricci competed in GP2 for DPR. He has never completed a full season, and only picked up points on three occasions. However, since the third occasion was his maiden victory in the series following an eighth place finish in the Hungarian sprint race, it does seem a little unfair.
His former team DPR are no longer in GP2, and today Ricci is signed up for the Abu Dhabi final alongside Favio Onidi for Super Nova Racing. Onidi has had a long racing career, but has been struggling to get up the ladder despite finishing second in Euroseries 3000 and Italian F3000 in 2008, and third in both series in 2009. He moved to Auto GP last season, this year finishing fifth including three podiums.

The full lineup for the final can be found here.

Summer day 21 – Luca Filippi

Luca Filippi – 7
By far the most experienced driver in GP2, the only season Luca has not driven in was 2005. But he had a slow start to the season, not picking up any points until he came third at Monaco in the feature race, then fourth in the sprint. After that, performance dropped again for the driver at Super Nova.
With Coloni’s Kevin Ceccon deciding to focus on Auto GP – a championship he is now winning ahead of Luca – the Italian moved to the Scuderia for the German and Hungarian rounds. That first race in Germany marked not only a turning point in his season, but also his 100th race and another win. Not only that, but he also took the fastest lap. He followed it up with another podium finish in the sprint. At Hungary, he came sixth with the fastest lap in the feature race, but ended up retiring from the sprint. All the same, the Scuderia Coloni races have been far more profitable than the Super Nova ones, and he has earned 19 points in those four. He also qualified well for them, starting second in both feature races.

Points: 28
Best qualifying: 2
Worst qualifying: 17
Best finish: 1 (Nurburgring feature)
Worst finish: 15 (Valencia sprint)
Retirements: 5

Summer day 11 – Herck, Carroll, Fauzy, Chilton

Michael Herck – 20
Romanian Michael has been driving in GP2 for a long time with limited success. This year he has generally finished on the cusp of the points, finally picking one up in the Valencia sprint race. Driving for Scuderia Coloni, it looked like that would be their only point until Luca Filippi switched teams and took the win on his 100th race. All the same, Michael has been doing a solid job.

Points: 1
Best qualifying: 14
Worst qualifying: 24
Best finish: 6 (Valencia sprint)
Worst finish: 24 (Silverstone feature)
Retirements: 3

Adam Carroll – 19
After plying his trade in America last season, Adam was out of a drive for 2010 until he made a brilliant comeback in Formula Renault 3.5. Suddenly everyone was talking about him again. Another good round in Auto GP made his old team Super Nova invite him back to GP2, which worked out well for everyone. He scored two points on his return as he gets used to the new GP2 car.

Points: 2
Best qualifying: 14
Worst qualifying: 18
Best finish: 5 (Nurburgring sprint)
Worst finish: 19 (Hungaroring feature)
Retirements: 0

Fairuz Fauzy – 18
Until this season, Fairuz had failed to score any points in the main GP2 series, though the Malaysian had plenty of success in GP2 Asia. Returning to the series to drive for Super Nova, he scored points in the first two sprint races. Since then, however, he has not done as well, and needs to improve for the final two rounds of the season. Fairuz is a terrible qualifier, but picks up places in the races.

Points: 3
Best qualifying: 19
Worst qualifying: 25
Best finish: 5 (Istanbul sprint)
Worst finish: 21 (Silverstone feature)
Retirements: 3 (1 classified)

Max Chilton – 17
Carlin’s full-time driver Max is the younger brother of BTCC driver Tom Chilton. Struggling for the first couple of races, his breakthrough came in Monaco when he picked up points in both races. He aso managed a point in the sprint at the Nurburgring. The Brit has had a lot of retirements this year, but generally qualifies well and should improve as his confidence grows.

Points: 4
Best qualifying: 5
Worst qualifying: 26
Best finish: 6 (Monaco, Nurburgring sprints)
Worst finish: 19 (Silverstone sprint)
Retirements: 5