Coletti leads championship after opening round

GP2 Malaysia review

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Stefano Coletti couldn’t convert pole position for the first race of the GP2 season into victory.

Fabio Leimer beat him to the top step. But Coletti bounced back in the sprint race, taking the win and fastest lap to claim the early championship lead.

James Calado recovered from a poor start in the first race to claim second but carries a penalty into the next round of the championship following a first-lap crash in the sprint race.

After top four finishes in both races Felipe Nasr holds third in the championship points behind Leimer.

Qualifying results

1Stefano ColettiRapax1’44.2801
2James CaladoART Grand Prix1’44.284+0.0042
3Felipe NasrCarlin1’44.288+0.0083
4Fabio LeimerRacing Engineering1’44.463+0.1834
5Sam BirdRussian Time1’44.598+0.3188
6Mitch EvansArden International1’44.618+0.3385
7Rio HaryantoBarwa Addax Team1’44.681+0.4016
8Rene BinderVenezuela GP Lazarus1’44.687+0.4077
9Simon TrummerRapax1’44.692+0.4129
10Tom DillmannRussian Time1’44.731+0.45110
11Julian LealRacing Engineering1’44.732+0.45211
12Sergio CanamasasCaterham Racing1’44.761+0.48112
13Marcus EricssonDAMS1’44.766+0.48613
14Johnny CecottoArden International1’44.788+0.50826
15Adrian Quaife-HobbsMP Motorsport1’45.191+0.91114
16Stephane RichelmiDAMS1’45.262+0.98215
17Conor DalyHilmer Motorsport1’45.289+1.00916
18Nathanael BerthonTrident Racing1’45.378+1.09817
19Kevin CecconTrident Racing1’45.491+1.21118
20Ma QinghuaCaterham Racing1’45.497+1.21719
21Daniel de JongMP Motorsport1’45.522+1.24220
22Daniel AbtART Grand Prix1’45.593+1.31321
23Jolyon PalmerCarlin1’45.662+1.38222
24Jake RosenzweigBarwa Addax Team1’45.708+1.42823
25Pal VarhaugHilmer Motorsport1’45.830+1.55024
26Kevin GiovesiVenezuela GP Lazarus1’45.985+1.70525

Feature Race

Calado struggles and Leimer flies from the start

Calado made a poor getaway at the start and was gobbled up by the faster starting Nasr and Leimer behind. Leimer challenged Coletti for the lead into turn one but the Rapax driver held position as Calado fought his way back past Nasr.

Meanwhile Mitch Evans made a superb start on his GP2 debut, moving up to fifth and then demoting Calado as well. But at turn nine Marcus Ericsson missed his braking point and ran into Jolyon Palmer, taking himself out of the race.

The MP Motorsport pair were running near the rear of the field on the team’s debut, and it was about to get worse for them. At the end of lap four Adrian Quaife-Hobbs attempted a late lunge up the inside of his team mate Daniel de Jong into the final corner and the pair collided.

While De Jong gyrated Quaife-Hobbs attempted to go around the outside but the pair made contact again – left rear to left rear – eliminating both on the spot.

Bird and Palmer make gains

As Leimer applied pressure to Coletti up front the leader began to struggle on his tyres and eventually made his mandatory pit stop on lap six. Evans followed him in having been re-passed by Calado and Nasr. Leimer had now been released and set about posting a string of fastest laps to try and jump Coletti.

Towards the end of lap ten Calado’s team mate Daniel Abt finished early what was proving to be a miserable d??but by spinning off at turn 13 completely on his own and stalling the car.

Leimer and Calado pitted together on lap 11 but despite the former’s best efforts he rejoined behind Coletti. At this point Sam Bird and Jolyon Palmer moved into the lead of the race having started on the harder tyres. The Carlin man was handed the lead however as Bird – along with a number of other drivers – received penalties for ignoring yellow flags.

Nathanael Berthon was using a similar strategy however a botched pitstop ruined his strategy. The Trident driver rejoined but pulled off the circuit later in the lap.

Coletti loses grip

Palmer eventually pitted for option tyres on lap 21 handing the lead back to Coletti, who now became embroiled in a tense duel with Leimer. As Coletti’s tyres wilted the pair fought for laps until Leimer wrested control of the lead on lap 27.

Due to Coletti’s severe lack of grip Calado also closed and completed demoted him to second a lap later.

Nasr closed quickly on Coletti but just ran out of laps to attempt a move to take the final podium place. Julian Leal finished fifth while Palmer and Bird managed sixth and seventh on their alternate strategies. Stephane Richelmi finished eighth, meaning he took pole for the sprint race, while Simon Trummer and Evans competed the points.

After the race Quaife-Hobbs was handed a twenty-five second time penalty for his collision with his team mate, despite retiring from the race. This meant he would start last on the grid for the sprint race.

Feature race results

PosDriverTeamTime/Lap RetiredGrid
1Fabio LeimerRacing Engineering57’49.3854
2James CaladoART Grand Prix+2.0452
3Stefano ColettiRapax+11.2711
4Felipe NasrCarlin+12.8103
5Julian LealRacing Engineering+28.83711
6Jolyon PalmerCarlin+34.20922
7Sam BirdRussian Time+41.1838
8Stephane RichelmiDAMS+58.94115
9Simon TrummerRapax+1:02.8539
10Mitch EvansArden International+1:13.7305
11Rene BinderVenezuela GP Lazarus+1:16.1377
12Johnny CecottoArden International+1:18.35726*
13Conor DalyHilmer Motorsport+1:20.09616
14Tom DillmannRussian Time+1:21.81210
15Pal VarhaugHilmer Motorsport+1:23.75424
16Kevin GiovesiVenezuela GP Lazarus+1:35.77525
17Kevin CecconTrident Racing+1:37.92818
18Jake RosenzweigBarwa Addax Team+1’43.25223
19Sergio CanamasasCaterham Racing+2:00.25712
20Rio HaryantoBarwa Addax Team+ 1 Lap6
21Ma QinghuaCaterham Racing+ 1 Lap19
DNFNathanael BerthonTrident Racing2017
DNFDaniel AbtART Grand Prix1021
DNFDaniel de JongMP Motorsport420
DNFAdrian Quaife-HobbsMP Motorsport414
DNFMarcus EricssonDAMS113

Fastest lap: Sam Bird (Russian Time) ? 1’48.777 (lap 16)

Sprint Race

Ma Qing Hua had battled through Saturday race despite suffering acute food poisoning, but was still unwell on Sunday morning and did not take the start for the Sprint race.

Richelmi made an adequate start from pole but was attacked into turn one by Nasr and Evans. But none of them got away as well as Coletti from sixth place, whose remarkable getaway propelled him into the lead after taking the long way around the first corner.

Calado had another slow start from seventh place and as they approached turn four he clipped Leimer’s rear wheel under braking. Calado’s front wing went under the car and he tobogganed into Leal and Bird – eliminating both. The stewards held Calado responsible and handed him a ten-place grid penalty for Bahrain.

Midfield mistakes

While Coletti and Nasr made their escape Richelmi started to struggle on his tyres in third, allowing Evans to close up. With six laps to go Richelmi locked his tyres and Evans slipped through on the inside to claim the final podium spot.

Having survived his brush with Calado, Leimer was running in a strong sixth position before an error at turn 11 dropped him out of the points.

But there were no such problems for Coletti up front however as he was able to manage his tyres to claim the win ahead of Nasr. Evans took third to claim a podium in his first GP2 weekend from tenth on the grid.


PosDriverTeamTime/Lap RetiredGrid
1Stefano ColettiRapax40:49.4556
2Felipe NasrCarlin+0.8325
3Mitch EvansArden International+8.35810
4Stephane RichelmiDAMS+11.9351
5Johnny CecottoArden International+15.87412
6Simon TrummerRapax+17.0729
7Conor DalyHilmer Motorsport+17.47913
8Rene BinderVenezuela GP Lazarus+23.72611
9Jolyon PalmerCarlin+24.3263
10Kevin GiovesiVenezuela GP Lazarus+29.02016
11Tom DillmannRussian Time+30.52214
12Fabio LeimerRacing Engineering+30.8028
13Marcus EricssonDAMS+31.34224
14Daniel de JongMP Motorsport+32.39123
15Sergio CanamasasCaterham Racing+35.33619
16Daniel AbtART Grand Prix+36.33922
17Adrian Quaife-HobbsMP Motorsport+37.03325*
18Rio HaryantoBarwa Addax Team+43.46820
19Pal VarhaugHilmer Motorsport+46.09215
20Jake RosenzweigBarwa Addax Team+51.24418
21Nathanael BerthonTrident Racing+53.77721
22Kevin CecconTrident Racing+ 1 Lap17
RetSam BirdRussian Time12
RetJulian LealRacing Engineering14
RetJames CaladoART Grand Prix17
DNSMa QinghuaCaterham RacingDNS

Fastest lap: Stefano Coletti (Rapax) ? 1’50.253 (on lap 5)

Drivers’ championship points

With a pole position, fastest lap, win and a third place, Coletti leads the championship from Leimer by eleven points. Rapax lead the teams standings by seven points from Racing Engineering.

1Stefano Coletti36
2Fabio Leimer25
3Felipe Nasr24
4James Calado18
5Stephane Richelmi12
6Mitch Evans11
7Julian Leal10
8Jolyon Palmer8
9Sam Bird8
10Johnny Cecotto6
11Simon Trummer6
12Conor Daly2
13Rene Binder1


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    15 comments on “Coletti leads championship after opening round”

    1. It’s really great to see GP2 getting such good coverage. The races were fantastic to watch, I’m hoping Nasr will really shine this season. And Evans did a great job in his first GP2 weekend.

      1. Yeah, Nasr even said that his car needs to change a little, so it wasn’t his best.

    2. Evans and Ma both suffered from food poisoning??

    3. And thanks for the extensive coverage!!!!

    4. Leimer looked electric in the feature race. A real talent for sure, even though I am a big-time Nasr fan, I was cheering and jumped out of my seat when Leimer did that lionhearted pass on the outside to take the lead. What a race.

      And Cecotto, what an insufferable ****.

    5. Go Nasr!!

    6. With @keithcollantine so busy with Formula One stuff, it’s great for me to be able to cover the series that a lot of our next generation of Formula One drivers will come from. I’m also glad you guys enjoy it and I’m hoping to get even more F1 Fanatic’s into GP2 by the end of the season with continued coverage throughout the year.

      1. Thanks a lot @bradley13, its great to have a bit more of GP2 coverage, especially with quite a good field there this year.

    7. Looks like it’ll be a battle between the top 5 in outright pace – Calado, Nasr, Coletti, Leimer and Bird (with Evans next as best placed rookie), if they can all work at the top of their game and are not unlucky, that is, for the championship.

      Perhaps there is more pace to come from Cecotto Jr (if he can keep his head, a la Pastor), Daly, Dillmann and an off-colour Ericsson. Also, I wonder if GP2 appearing in China (with Ma driving) would be popular there, is it to do with what races are on the support bill? (Or too many travelling costs?) I could see GP2 possibly appearing at 2 more races (China, India).

    8. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
      26th March 2013, 22:01

      Great to see one of my favourite series getting some decent coverage. Great job, Keith. Getting back to Coletti; I really see his performance as a trivial one. He is so bad on the tyres and Calado is so good on his I really don’t think anyone is stopping James. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not cheering on James out of blind patriotism, I just genuinely think he is the cream of a rather underwhelming 2013 GP2 grid.

      1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
        26th March 2013, 22:15

        Oh, err, sorry Bradley. Great job anyway! Awkward…

    9. Loved watching the Malaysian GP2 races and I’m eagerly looking forward to the next round at Bahrain. Was personally stoked by Evan’s debut, but was disappointed by his team-mate’s on track antics with Sam Bird. Coletti, Leimer, Nasr and Palmer all had particularly impressive weekends. How about Calado’s seemingly confused reaction towards Leal after literally bowling him out of the race !! Keep the GP2 updates and reviews coming ;)

    10. thatscienceguy
      27th March 2013, 9:44

      Mitch Evans man. Keep an eye on this kid, he is some serious talent, and at only 18 years old still has a fair bit of development left in him.

      1. Youngest ever GP2 podium finisher.

        Not to mention youngest pole sitter, race winner and champion in GP3. On a par with Calado’s debut last year.

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