Calado gets closer to F1

ART GP have become the first GP2 team to complete their 2012 lineup, let alone announce it! 2011 GP3 runner-up James Caldado will partner 2010 GP3 champion and GP2 race winner Esteban Gutierrez at the team. Worcestershire-born Calado began his career in 2008, coming seventh in British Formula Renault with 1 win, 3 other podiums and 2 pole positions. After winning the winter series for the British and Portuguese FR 2.0 series, he took on the main FR 2.0 series again. He came second that year, and so in 2010 moved to British F3. His team was Carlin, and he won 5 of the 30 races, finishing second overall. This year, he only won a single race but his consistency (six podiums, one pole, two fastest laps) got him to second. So it is no surprise that he has graduated to the step below F1. Could he be the next British F1 driver?

In less exciting news, Karun Chandhok will not be driving for Team Lotus in India. He will be doing FP1, but that is all. While I am disappointed, I can understand the team’s logic. They cannot afford to run an inexperienced driver on a new track when anything could happen in the race. Finishing tenth in the championship is crucial to the team’s future development. If they were scoring points regularly, I think they would have less qualms about putting Karun on track.

Pic attempts to break into F1

Charles Pic, one of the major contenders for GP2’s runner-up spot going into the final races of the season (along with teammate Giedo van der Garde, Jules Bianchi, and Luca Filippi), doesn’t want to be in the series any more. French and Belgian media have been reporting that he is in negotiations with three teams: Virgin, Lotus and Toro Rosso.
He won two races last season: the feature at Barcelona, and the sprint at Monaco where he started from reversed pole position. At Valencia he suffered the traditional GP2 pole position curse, when he retired from both races. He also had pole at the Nurburgring and Monza, each time finishing the feature race second, but he was disqualified from the sprint in Germany, and retired in Italy. That retirement left the battle for GP2 runner-up to Filippi and Bianchi, which the Italian eventually won.
The Frenchman has only completed two years of the series, but he had an impressive first season with Arden after winning his first race (the Spanish feature). He also had a pole at Hockenheim, which he converted into third place. Looking further back, he also has a good record from Formula Renault 3.5: four wins, seven podiums and three poles. In his debut season he finished 6th, and came third in 2009. He came third in his only season of Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup as well.

Getting into F1 is tough, but Pic has a good record. On the other hand, Virgin have interest in Robert Wickens, Lotus have Alex Rossi and Karun Chandhok as well as their GP2 team, and Toro Rosso have four drivers to decide between.

Narain’s in, but is Karun?

HRT confirmed their driver lineup for the Indian Grand Prix today. Narain Karthikeyan will be partnered by Daniel Ricciardo, the driver who replaced him from Silverstone. Tonio Liuzzi, therefore, will be on the sidelines.

There is no word yet from Team Lotus on whether their Indian reserve driver, Karun Chandhok, will be replacing Jarno Trulli for the race. If this happens, this will be the first race since the 2005 US Grand Prix that no Italians have taken part. Before that race (which was in exceptional circumstances), we need to go back to the 1996 Japanese Grand Prix (for which Giovanni Lavaggi – the only Italian entrant – failed to qualify) to find a race where no Italians took part.

The Indian Grand Prix will be Felipe Massa’s 150th Grand Prix. If Jarno Trulli takes part, it will be his 250th. Several drivers have anniversaries coming up at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, including Mark Webber (175th) and Bruno Senna (25th).

Summer day 11 – Liuzzi, Trulli, De La Rosa, Barrichello

Sorry for the delay. My laptop wanted to get friendly with some water but the relationship didn’t work out.

Tonio Liuzzi – 20
Throughout the winter, Tonio Liuzzi was sure that despite Paul di Resta winning the DTM championship, he had a safe seat at Force India. But Mercedes – who provide Force India’s engines – backed Paul, and with Nico Hulkenberg taking the reserve seat Tonio was left teamless. Pretty swiftly, however, the Italian driver was snapped up by Hispania Racing. Despite being unable to provide any funding, he was able to provide them with help in developing the car.
The start of the season was dismal. Neither HRT driver qualified in Australia after getting hardly any time on track, and coming nowhere near the pace in the qualifying session. But Malaysia was an improvement as both HRTs squeaked under the 107% time along with the Virgins. As the car has improved, Tonio has been able to scrap for position with the Virgins in qualifying, and even started 20th in Istanbul.
But his greatest race came in Canada. The wet/dry conditions somehow played into HRT’s hands, and while nobody was paying attention he finished ahead of his teammate, both Virgins, and the sole remaining Lotus of Jarno Trulli. His thirteenth-place finish has allowed him to slot in behind Trulli in the championship, and brought his team back to 11th where they finished the championship last year. HRT have had a lot of luck to be ahead of Virgin in 2010 and 2011, but in this game luck is a big part of it. And when your next rivals have an incredibly unreliable car, you can see why HRT have hopes of getting that elusive 12th-place finish that will get them 10th in the championship.

Worst qualifying: 23
Best qualifying: 20
Worst finish: 23 (Valencia)
Best finish: 13 (Canada)
Average difference: 2.3
Laps completed: 531/681 (78%)
Average race position: 10.82 (Best: 18.9 Canada; Worst: 22.9 China)

Jarno Trulli – 19
Having been hit by most of Team Lotus’s reliability problems in 2010, Jarno seems to have the more reliable car this year. Though to be honest, three is still a huge amount. Finishing 13th in the very first race of the season has sealed Jarno’s place at 19th in the championship, and he matched that finish in Monaco when he came in ahead of Kovalainen.
For the first half of the season, however, the Italian has been having trouble with the team’s power steering, which did not meet the sensitivity he required to be able to drive the way he prefers. This has been part of the reason why he has been half a second off his teammate in most sessions, as proven in Hungary when only a last-gasp effort got Kovalainen ahead on the grid.
We can expect much closer racing between the two Team Lotus drivers in the future, which will make life a lot more interesting for them. Let’s hope they can stay out of each others’ way and keep the retirements mechanical.

Worst qualifying: 21
Best qualifying: 18
Worst finish: 20 (Valencia)
Best finish: 13 (Australia, Monaco)
Average difference: 1
Laps completed: 490/611 (79%)
Average race position: 17.73 (Best: 15.9 Monaco; Worst: 20.4 Britain)

Pedro de la Rosa – 18
Stepping in for Sergio Perez at the Canadian Grand Prix, Pedro did a reasonable job considering he’d not been in the 2011 Sauber before. He finished on the leading lap thanks to the red flag and safety cars. Nothing else to say, really.

Qualifying: 17
Finish: 12
Average race position: 13.54

Rubens Barrichello – 17
After a good 2010, this season was looking even better for Rubens Barrichello. Winter testing showed promise, and the ‘tight rear end’ was the talk of the press. Then came Australia, and the first of two consecutive double DNFs for the team. Since then, Rubens has been pushing the team to improve. Already reluctantly putting aside this season, the Renault deal should make things better for 2012. But will the Brazilian be there? Rumours abound, questioning whether he will be replaced or remain. As the most experienced driver in F1, he can retire without shame, but he is still a good driver.
Despite not making it into Q3 at all, the high attrition in Monaco and Canada was enough for Rubens to snatch a couple of ninth-place finishes and four points. Aside from that, the Williams’ best finish was 12th at Valencia. Aside from the two DNFs at the start, Rubens’ FW33 has also had a problem in Germany. Bring on 2012.

Worst qualifying: 19
Best qualifying: 11
Worst finish: 17 (Spain)
Best finish: 9 (Monaco, Canada)
Average difference: -0.09
Laps completed: 585/681 (86%)
Average race position: 13.76 (Best: 10.2 Monaco; Worst: 22.0 Malaysia)

Summer day 5 – Heikki Kovalainen

Heikki Kovalainen – 23
Nobody doubts that Heikki Kovalainen has been driving brilliantly this year. But his driving has sadly not been translated into points as his car has been suffering from technical failures. The first came at the opening Grand Prix in Australia – a race of high attrition (or rather, lots of breaking cars with both Mercedes and Williams failing) which would have put Heikki in 13th if he’d finished thanks to the Sauber disqualification.
Heikki finished the race in China, just behind both Toro Rossos, and the next two races after that. Then in Barcelona things went wrong again. The Finn began on a high, getting his Lotus into Q2 after Kobayashi and Barrichello had problems and starting 15th. But as he was pushing his way around the track and doing pretty well, he lost the car and crashed into the wall.
The next race was Monaco, and Lotus took the opportunity for a good finish with Trulli and Kovalainen in 13th and 14th respectively. But it was disappointing for Heikki that he didn’t manage to get that 13th place. Then Canada, and it was looking good right up until the restart. As the cars were proceeding around under the safety car, a drive failure for Heikki meant another DNF. And a struggling Jarno Trulli came in behind the HRTs and Virgins.
Valencia meant starting where you finish for almost everyone. And then it was Silverstone. A good push by Lotus in the first half of Q1 saw Heikki in 17th ahead of both Toro Rossos before the rain came down. So it was Q2 for Heikki, who qualified 17th. But for Team Lotus it was another bad day with Kovalainen and Trulli both retiring through faults with the McLaren technical unit and Renault engine. They had barely made it 11 laps into the race.
Kovalainen finished 16th in Germany, then the Hungaroring saw another double DNF with the cars suffering from water leaks. Sadly, Heikki has been hit with the worst of the failures, and the Lotus has been much less reliable than any other team’s car.

Worst qualifying: 20
Best qualifying: 15
Worst finish: 19 (Turkey, Valencia)
Best finish: 14 (Monaco)
Average difference: -0.82
Laps completed: 507/681 (74%)
Average race position: 17.29 (Best: 16.2 Malaysia; Worst: 19.2 Canada)

Summer day 1 – Karun Chandhok

It’s the first day of the summer. There are 27 days of summer before the next race (although technically the last few days are on an F1 weekend) and handily there are 27 drivers who have participated in F1 races this season. Each day I’m going to sum up their season so far. I will also be summarising GP2, GP3 and F2 drivers, since the F2 season restarts on the same weekend as F1 (bad timing there from the FIA).

Karun Chandhok – 27
The Indian driver replaced Jarno Trulli at the German Grand Prix for Team Lotus, and it was a tough outing. He had never driven the T128 under race conditions before, and spun several times. However, he completed the race and managed his fastest lap on his final lap. He also qualified within a second of Heikki Kovalainen. The popular driver has also done several straight line tests and Friday practice sessions for the team, though they have not always gone to plan. In Australia he didn’t complete the first lap; in Turkey it rained; in Valencia his car had gearbox trouble. However, at Silverstone he managed a good session and completed over 100km. Finally, Karun and fellow Team Lotus test driver Luiz Razia took last year’s T127 around the streets of Moscow between the British and German Grands Prix.

Qualified: 20
Finished: 20
Difference: 0
Laps completed: 56/60 (93%)
Average race position: 21.65

Penalties in 2011 season

Lewis Hamilton really does see the stewards more than any other driver. This website gives details of every penalty given in each race weekend. And the results are:

  • Drive-through penalties: 17 handed out plus two stop-and-go in Silverstone and a stop-and-go to Sebastian Buemi in Malaysia for speeding in the pitlane (20 in total).
  • Speeding fines: 4 – two to Adrian Sutil in the same race weekend!
  • Other fines: Sauber for an unsafe release (Kobayashi); Toro Rosso for Alguersuari’s wheel.
  • Grid penalties: Buemi and D’Ambrosio each have had 5-place grid penalties. Buemi has been excluded from qualifying, and Hamilton had his best Q3 time removed in Monaco.
  • Reprimands and warnings: After qualifying in Australia, Schumacher, Hamilton and Rosberg were warned for impeding drivers. After a penalty-free Spanish Grand Prix, the stewards reprimanded Hamilton, Button, Webber and Alguersuari for possibly speeding under yellows.
  • DSQ and DNQ: Sauber DSQ in Australia. HRT DNQ in Australia.

So which driver comes out worse? Well it’s no “frickin'” joke that it’s Lewis Hamilton. Four drive-through penalties: once in Malaysia (too many moves to defend a position against Alonso – 20s added time), twice in Monaco (once after the Massa collision, once after the Maldonado collision which resulted in 20s added time), and once in Hungary for his spin causing di Resta to take evasive action.
Lewis has also received a pit lane speeding fine during Friday practice in Germany, his qualifying time was removed in Monaco after he cut a chicane, and he has also received a warning and a reprimand. That is in total 8 penalties, or seven if you discount the warning.
Considering the previous-best record for penalties in a season was 6, set by Lewis in 2008, this is perhaps a sign that the British driver needs to be careful.

There are some drivers who haven’t received a single penalty yet: Kovalainen, Massa, Petrov, Trulli, Glock and Vettel. Lotus are the only penalty-free team so far. McLaren have 12: Jenson also has four penalties, and no driver except the two McLaren boys have more than three. Is there an anti-McLaren bias? I think most of the penalties have been justified. Please comment on what you think.