Calado flies under the desert sun

There were two great races today in Abu Dhabi. First the GP2 cars fought under the sun, and then the F1 cars chased each other in the early evening. The F1 report will come later.

James Calado, ART’s new signing for 2012, started from pole. He was closely chased in the race, particularly in the first few laps when there were less than three seconds between the top five: Calado, da Costa, Ericsson, Razia and Dillmann. But Calado maintained his lead, eventually pulling away as da Costa was under pressure from Ericsson and eventually gave way. Next it was Razia’s turn. The AirAsia driver got ahead, and da Costa severely cut the corner to get the position back. He was given a drive-through penalty.
Mihai Marinescu crashed, causing yellow flags which were ignored once by Razia and Leal, but twice by Ricci. Leal and Razia both had drive-through penalties, while Ricci had a stop-and-go. By the final lap, there was a massive battle for fifth with Leimer pushing Stefano Coletti. Behind were Esteban Gutierrez, Kevin Ceccon, Alex Rossi and Luiz Razia. Leimer tangled with Coletti, putting the Monegasque driver out. The final lap was an almighty scrap, with several drivers going wide on the final corner. Gutierrez, who had started 21st, took fifth. Ceccon took sixth. Rossi and Razia came seventh and eighth, allowing the Brazilian to take the point for fastest lap.
Marcus Ericsson finished second behind Calado, while his iSport teammate and GP3 graduate Tom Dillmann came third. Jolyon Palmer finished fourth. As the best GP3 graduates, Calado and Dillmann earn monetary rewards from Pirelli; they had equal points, but Calado’s win gives him the 15,000 Euros.

Dominant win for Leimer

The GP2 final race proved today that it is definitely possible to overtake without DRS at Yas Marina. Polesitter Fabio Leimer had a good start while Dani Clos fell between Josef Kral and Luiz Razia. They went three-wide into the first corner – Luiz Razia came out on top while Clos caused Kral to spin and soon retired himself. Behind, Jolyon Palmer found himself in third place, with a few other drivers behind including GP3’s Tom Dillmann.
Max Chilton was another early retiree, as his brakes stopped working and he hit the barrier at turn one. Esteban Gutierrez had technical problems and finished a lap behind along with Stephane Richelmi.
During the race there were scraps up and down the field. Marcus Ericsson overtook his teammate and eventually finished fourth, but he was battling closely with Palmer through the final laps. Fifth was Kevin Ceccon, much improved since his first stint in GP2 earlier in the season. Then came three GP3 drivers – Tom Dillmann, Antonio Felix da Costa, and James Calado. But in my opinion Tom Dillmann has been the best of the rookies so far, displaying great pace throughout the weekend.
Fabio Leimer took the fastest lap on the way to victory, and Luiz Razia did not let him escape too far ahead. Jolyon Palmer also showed himself well with Addax as he took his first ever points finish and podium.

Tomorrow, the first three grid positions will be taken by Calado, da Costa and Dillmann. Good luck GP3 grads!

Ericsson continues with iSport

GP2’s iSport International team today announced half of their 2012 lineup, along with their two drivers for the final in two weeks’ time. Marcus Ericsson, one half of the team’s lineup this season, will continue to race for them next year and will also participate in the final. Alongside him in Abu Dhabi will be GP3’s Tom Dillmann. As far as I am aware, Tom is the second GP3 driver to be signed up for the final after James Calado.
For the final, Pirelli will be awarding a cash prize to the top two points-scoring GP3 graduates; 15,000 Euros to the best, and 10,000 to the second-best. Hopefully, more GP3 graduates will be signed up to give Tom and James a run for their money.

For the current finals lineup and 2012 lineup, check the links above in the GP2 section.

Summer day 15 – Tom Dillmann

Tom Dillmann – 13
This curly-haired young French driver competed in the first round for Carlin, before being dropped in favour of Daniel Morad. This was rather a shock, as he’d picked up eight points and was fourth in the championship, having come third in the first race at Istanbul Park after starting from pole.
He was picked up by Addax for the remaining rounds, but has only managed four points since then, at the Nurburgring and the Hungaroring. This is in contrast to his clear ability in qualifying – never out of the top eight – and he has had a lot of bad luck. He’s a great driver, and it would be good to see him in GP2 in the near future.

Points: 8 (Carlin), 4 (Addax)
Best qualifying: 1
Worst qualifing: 8
Best finish: 3 (Istanbul feature)
Worst finish: 25 (Silverstone sprint)
Retirements: 2

Changes in GP3

Over the weekend, French driver Tom Dillmann was proud to announce that he’s been signed up by Addax for the remainder of the GP3 season. Tom drove in Turkey for Carlin before they dumped him in favour of Canadian Daniel Morad in Barcelona. Dillmann, who with eight points is sixth in the championship, replaces New Zealander Dominic Storey – who so far has failed to score any points and is 29th in the championship.
Thomas Hylkema, who drove for Addax in the pre-season tests, comes into Tech 1 Racing to replace Andrea Caldarelli, who is currently two points below championship leader Nigel Melker. Hylkema, like Melker, is Dutch. He graduates from Formula Renault 2.0 UK, having driven for Manor Racing in 2009 and 2010.
Addax will also be replacing Dean Smith (currently 9th with 7 points) with Spanish driver Fernando Monje at least for the upcoming mid-season test in Hungary. Monje competed in the European F3 Open championship last year, finishing 6th two places below Kevin Ceccon. He has been taking part in the same competition this year, and after four races is 13th in the championship.

Tom Dillmann dropped?

Disappointing news for Tom Dillmann, who had a fantastic start to his GP3 campaign in Turkey. Having taken third place in the first race after being on pole position, he stands 4th in the championship on equal points with Alex Sims. However, he won’t be driving for Carlin this weekend in Barcelona. Considering that he is currently way ahead of Carlin’s other two drivers – Conor Daly and Leo Cordeiro – in the championship standings, it seems a strange decision.
This has only been reported on Twitter so far through the driver’s account. There has been no information from Carlin on their Twitter account or website. Tom is currently working with his management to try and get back in the car for Valencia at the end of June.

Following the earthquake in Lorca (Murcia, Spain), Hispania Racing are working hard to support the efforts of their countrymen, and helping to raise money to support the victims. The team’s headquarters are based in that area, as well as in Germany and expanding into the UK. Part of the fundraising involves a friendly football match between Real Madrid and Murcia locals, which will be attended by the president of Hispania, Jose Ramon Carabante, and the president of Murcia Basketball Club. The game will also be on Spanish national TV, so someone might stream it if you want to watch.
I can only wish Hispania all the best with the fundraising efforts, and offer my best wishes and prayers to Spain, Murcia and Lorca.

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)