Four seats TBA in GP2 final

GP2
Addax have confirmed that Jolyon Palmer, who drove for Arden this season, will be one of their two drivers for the GP2 final in Abu Dhabi. The second will be American Jake Rosenzweig from Formula Renault. At Ocean Racing, French driver Nicolas Marroc will be joining Antonio Felix da Costa. Marroc currently drives in the International GT Open, but last year took part in the F3 Euroseries. He is the third Frenchman currently signed up for the final.
The remaining seats to be announced are at Arden and Super Nova.

F1
In the young drivers’ test, Dani Clos (GP2) will be driving for HRT; Renault/Lotus will have Formula Renault 3.5 champion Robert Wickens, Estonian Kevin Korjus, and their reserve driver Jan Charouz; and Max Chilton will be driving for Force India.
Korjus will be only the second Estonian to drive an F1 car, and along with Kevin Ceccon will be one of the first drivers called ‘Kevin’ in an F1 car since 1981.

Race of Champions
Marussia Virgin’s Timo Glock will be competing in the ROC alongside Timo Scheider, the German touring car star. They will make up a second German team, with the first being Schumacher and Vettel.

In other news, former F1 driver for Williams and Team Lotus and American CART champion Alex Zanardi, who was injured in a CART accident in 2001, has won the New York Marathon handcycling class. Good work!

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Qualifying in India

Five drivers will suffer grid penalties tomorow: Petrov for colliding with Schumacher in Korea (5 places), Perez and Hamilton for not being sufficiently cautious under waved yellows (3 places), Ricciardo for changing gearbox (5 places) and Karthikeyan for impeding Schumacher (5 places). Timo Glock failed to meet the 107% rule, but will be allowed to race. He will start from the back of the grid, just as Kobayashi did in Turkey – grid penalties are applied before 107% rule.

Qualifying was generally okay, though once again three drivers failed to set a timed lap in Q3. The first session saw Kovalainen once again force drivers to push to get into Q2, including the impeded Schumacher. It was the Sauber of Kobayashi who fell eventually. Suffering a gearbox problem, Glock was unable to complete a good-enough timed lap and will start 24th. The remaining HRTs both beat d’Ambrosio’s Virgin, but their penalties placed them behind him – Ricciardo first as he was penalised earlier.
In Q2, despite some determined laps, neither Senna, Petrov or Schumacher made it to the third session. Instead, both Toro Rossos and Adrian Sutil were there (they were the drivers who didn’t set a timed lap). Petrov qualified 11th so will start 16th, while Perez qualified 17th and will start 20th behind the two Lotuses and Kobayashi. Schumacher will now start 11th, with Paul di Resta beside him.
Q3 was looking close for pole, until Felipe Massa crashed right at the end. So naturally Vettel took it, giving Red Bull their sixteenth this season – a record number. It is Sebastian’s 13th of the year. Hamilton set the second-fastest time, but his penalty leaves him fifth behind Jenson Button (who was not having a good qualifying), Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber. Beside him on the grid is the man he always seems to end up fighting – Felipe Massa. Seventh is Rosberg. The Force India and Toro Rossos are in numerical order behind.

Friday practice summary

Well, what can I say? Today was very exciting! Ten minutes before FP1 was supposed to begin, the race director announced that it would be delayed by 30 minutes due to the need to repair some kerbs that the support races had damaged. This was in multiple sections of the track, and there was also a water leak at turn 14. Kerbs were removed, and the cars permitted to cross the white lines.
Thirty minutes late, the shortened sixty-minute session got underway. It began fairly calmly, before Webber got stuck behind Glock for several laps. Instead of holding back to gain more space, he tried to overtake the Virgin on the final corner. But Glock turned in without seeing the Red Bull – he had no reason to expect him to be there – and Webber’s front wing caught on Glock’s tyre. This resulted in a puncture and a broken front wing.
A few minutes after that, Heikki Kovalainen was suffering from mechanical issues so had to pull up in a run-off area. But his front brake ducts overheated as he stopped, setting both front tyres alight. Red flags went out, giving teams even less running time in the session.
Things got going again, until Felipe Massa ran over some of the repaired kerbing. It hadn’t been repaired very well, and the Ferrari pulled it loose. The session was again red-flagged, and there were about three minutes of running left at the end for one flying lap.
The fastest driver was Lewis Hamilton, with Sebastian Vettel 0.4s lower. Third was Mark Webber, a second off his teammate’s pace, and fourth Alonso.

Practice two was the full 90 minutes, and there were thankfully no red flags. The kerbing had been removed from the apex of Turn 13, however, which allowed the cars to cut it close to the wall there and on the track they turned into.
A lot of drivers came millimetres from the wall, a few touched it lightly, and Sebastien Buemi managed to knock his wheel completely off, held on merely by the tethers. Fortunately he only caused a yellow flag, but his session was over. His teammate also suffered mechanical issues and missed half the session, which is not good for Toro Rosso.
Jenson Button was another driver to have problems, when his McLaren’s wheels locked as he was going around a corner. He went straight on instead, but was unable to get reverse gear. The front of his car started smoking and he quickly got out to head back to the paddock. Incredibly, once you leave the circuit you find yourself in the middle of a normal, active city, and it was strange to see the McLaren driver motorbiking through the people.
Maldonado, Sutil and other drivers sometimes found themselves in run-off areas, but they managed to spin around and get back on track. Paul di Resta had mechanical issues as well and only set eight laps.
Fastest was Vettel, with Alonso 0.2s slower. Hamilton was just ahead of Massa, both around 0.7s slower.

So it was definitely an interesting day at the Singapore Grand Prix circuit. This bodes well for qualifying tomorrow, and the race on Sunday.

Summer day 4 – Timo Glock

Timo Glock – 24
Let’s be honest, Timo Glock doesn’t deserve to be 24th in the championship. But bad luck has meant that he hasn’t finished as well as his teammate where it counted – he was not classified in the Australian Grand Prix which claimed a lot of big scalps, and he finished below Jerome in the Canadian Grand Prix. He has also had a DNF, though the Virgin is the most reliable of the newer teams this year.
Timo has signed a long-term contract with Virgin Racing, which is good news for the team as he is a great driver. Hopefully if they progress well now that they’re no longer on a CFD-only strategy then they’ll be able to get faster and catch up with the back of the midfield in 2012.
Overall Timo has only lost out twice to his teammate in normal circumstances, and in qualifying he has a 10-1 record. Jerome managed to put his car ahead of Timo only in China.

Worst qualifying: 22
Best qualifying: 19
Worst finish: 21 (China)
Best finish: 15 (Canada)
Average difference: 2.1
Laps completed: 547/681 (80%)
Average race position: 18.88 (Best: 16.9 Canada; Worst: 21.0 China)

Rookie analysis

Australia saw four drivers come to F1 for the first time: Pastor Maldonado, Sergio Perez, Paul di Resta and Jerome d’Ambrosio. So how did they do? I’m a biased reporter, so I’m going to compare them more fairly with statistics:

Driver

P1 time

P2 time

P3 time

Q1 time

Race

Rubens Barrichello

1:28.430 (5th)

1:27.280 (9th)

1:28.068 (16th)

1:26.270 (qual 17th)

Ret lap 48

Pastor Maldonado

1:29.403 (15th)

1:29.386 (18th)

1:30.496 (21st)

1:26.298 (qual 15th)

Ret lap 9

Difference

0.967s (10)

2.106s (9)

2.428s (5)

0.028s

N/A

Pastor Maldonado crashed out of P3, but the P2 times didn’t have the same problems and should have been closer. The qualifying times were much more respectable, and the race itself had both Williams losing out to mechanical problems. While Maldonado started ahead of Barrichello, he fell behind by lap three despite the Brazilian driver going off the track. However, it was a bad race for Williams in general. I think it will take a few more races before we can start blasting Maldonado too much.

Driver

P1 time

P2 time

P3 time

Q1 time

Race

Adrian Sutil

1:29.314 (13th)

1:28.583 (17th)

1:27.180 (15th)

1:26.245 (qual 16th)

9 (finish 11)

Paul di Resta

N/A

1:28.376 (16th)

1:27.087 (14th)

1:27.222 (qual 14th)

10 (finish 12)

Difference

N/A

0.207s (1)

0.093s (1)

0.977s

1

In every practice session for which the two competed, they finished next to each other, with di Resta only slightly ahead. Sutil didn’t get to set a really competitive lap thanks to a mishap with the DRS just before the line, which is why his time was so far behind di Resta’s. Despite this, they both drove well and finished in the points after the Sauber disqualification. So not too bad for the pair, and a very good start for di Resta, though no more than I expected from him.

Driver

P1 time

P2 time

P3 time

Q1 time

Race

Kamui Kobayashi

1:28.725 (9th)

1:28.095 (17th)

1:26.417 (7th)

1:25.717 (qual 9th)

8 (DSQ)

Sergio Perez

1:29.643 (17th)

1:27.101 (8th)

1:28.077 (17th)

1:25.812 (qual 13th)

7 (DSQ)

Difference

0.918s (8)

0.994s (9)

1.660s (10)

0.095

1

Kobayashi and Perez set dramatically different times in practice, but both took turns at being the much faster driver. It all paid off for qualifying, when their Q1 times differed by less than a tenth. Perez of course finished ahead of Kobayashi after managing the tyres exceptionally well, and should have scored points on his debut. Fantastic from the second-youngest driver on the grid.

Driver

P1 time

P2 time

P3 time

Q1 time

Race

Timo Glock

1:35.289 (21st)

1:32.106 (21st)

1:30.261 (20th)

1:29.858 (qual 21st)

17 (NC, finish 15)

Jerome d’Ambrosio

1:25.282 (20th)

1:32.135 (22nd)

1:30.704 (22nd)

1:30.978 (qual 22nd)

16 (finish 14)

Difference

0.007s

0.029s (1)

0.443s (2)

1.120s

1

Just getting into the race was a miracle for the Virgins who had been outside the 107% mark for the three practice sessions. Incredibly, d’Ambrosio even managed to be a few thousandths off Glock’s time for P1 and P2, so he can compete on the same level as his fellow driver. His finish ahead was not only caused by problems with the German’s car, since he overtook Glock for the first 7 laps (though it was an exceptionally close thing).

In conclusion: all four rookies did well, and normally Maldonado’s performance would be acceptable. But di Resta, Perez and d’Ambrosio are exceptional as rookies, so he’s going to look bad in comparison with them. I’ll do this again for the next few races. Right now, I’d rate the rookies 1 – Perez, 2 – di resta, 3 – d’Ambrosio, 4 – Maldonado.

Melbourne practice three

The final practice session showed the typical shootout for qualifying practice, but Vettel was much faster than anyone else with a 1:24.507. Timo Glock made it within the 107%, which is good news for Virgin, though Jerome was just outside it. Lotus struggled to get heat into their tyres, losing an estimated 2s that would put them up with the rest of the drivers.
It was also a good session for Renault, who showed their hand with the fifth and ninth-fastest times. Williams struggled, with Maldonado only doing half the session and Barrichello stuck behind the Force Indias. For Sauber, while Perez had problems Kobayashi was seventh-fastest and only three tenths behind Alonso. HRT managed their first timed lap from Narain Karthikeyan, though they would have been better off if Liuzzi hadn’t stalled his car right at the start of the session.
The most amusing moment was Massa losing his camera. The yellow (in his case) box usually sits on top of the car, but came off. Drivers have to have the FOM-supplied camera on the car, but Ferrari managed to get permission for him to run without it. That didn’t stop the two Toro Rossos from matching his time. Red Bull might have had the fastest time, but I suspect the Ferraris are holding back, since they have been matching the Red Bulls normally.
Up next: qualifying! My bet is on Vettel, then Webber, with Alonso third and then the McLarens. After that – no clue.

F1 Birthdays: 18/3/2011

Marussia Virgin Racing driver Timo Glock celebrates his 29th birthday today. Having recently had his appendix out, he was out of action for the final Barcelona test and was probably grateful for the cancellation of the Bahrain GP that he would have had to miss.
German Timo won the first two series he participated in: the ADAC Formula Junior Cup, where he had 11 wins and 15 podiums in 19 races, followed by Formula BMW ADAC. In 2002, aged 20, he moved up to German Formula 3, finishing third with 3 wins and 6 podiums in 18 races. Gary Paffet, McLaren’s test driver, won with Liuzzi finishing 9th.
2003 brought Timo into the Formula 3 Euroseries, where he finished a disappointing fifth behind Christian Klien in 2nd, but ahead of Nico Rosberg, Robert Kubica, Lucas di Grassi and Sakon Yamamoto. But he was signed up with Jordan as test driver, replacing Giorgio Pantano (who would later go on to win GP2) at Canada, finishing seventh after Williams and Toyota were disqualified to earn 2 points on his debut. This puts Timo in the small ‘earned points in their first race’ club. Also in that season, he did the last three races for Jordan.
2005 saw Timo heading to the US, racing in Champ Car. He was the Champ Car World Series’ Rookie of the Year. However, he was destined to return to Europe, and joined GP2 in its second season. In his first season he finished 4th, and won the next season while also performing as Sauber’s test driver.
2008 gave Timo his first full season of F1, with Toyota. That year and the next he finished 10th, before moving to the brand new Virgin Racing for 2010. It was a rather disappointing season for Timo, finishing bottom of the regular drivers (only ahead of Hispania’s Yamamoto and Klien) but there’s hope for 2011 with an improving car.
Timo also likes food, and regularly posts pictures on his Twitter account: @RealTimoGlock.