Formula Two

GP2 Britain 2012

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    What a superb effort by Fabio Leimer to take pole position for the feature race. In the wet qualifying session he was up to two seconds faster than anyone else at times and ended up on pole by the best part of a second from Johnny Cecotto Jnr.

    Jolyon Palmer starts third alongside Esteban Gutierrez. Stefano Coletti would have been fourth but he is one of four drivers to be sent to the back of the grid for having insufficient fuel in their cars after qualifying.

    Also among them was championship leader Davide Valsecchi. He hadn’t gone well in qualifying anyway, having qualified mid-gird after his car came to a stop late in the session (you have to wonder if that was related to the shortage of fuel penalty).

    This presents an opportunity to his title rival Luiz Razia, who is only a point behind him in the standings and lines up seventh. James Calado, third in the standings and 46 points adrift, lines up fifth ahead of Max Chilton, making it three British drivers in the top six for their home race.

    After spending much of the session outside the 107% time Giancarlo Serenelli eventually made it in with a lap of 2’09.161, beating the target time by 1.3 seconds.


    Valsecchi, Nasr, Ericsson, Coletti, van der Garde have penalties


    Some drivers were fortunate to make it in for practice having been stuck in the traffic:

    As we had a coffee before heading out to the (other) pit lane for free practice, Jolyon Palmer’s father Jonathan came running in to hospitality. “Can I please borrow one of the GP2 scooters?” he blurted out. “It’s just that Jolyon and Marcus are still stuck in traffic outside the circuit, and we really need to go and get them out…”


    Giedo van de Garde had a whinge about his penalty on Twitter:

    I got a 10 place grip penalty cause I passed a really slow car in FP I did it really safely, I thought he had a problem Big Punishment :(

    And got smacked down by FIA doctor Gary Hartstein

    Red flags are usually a good indicator that no matter how slow he is, you are NOT passing safely. You’re passing ILLEGALLY.

    Flags are there to protect poor shmucks like marshals and doctors from lunatics who try to kill us by “passing really safely”

    Prisoner Monkeys

    Giedo, if you wrap someone in cotton wool, they’ll probably be safe – but eventually you reach a point of diminishing returns and end up smothering them.


    Unbelievable. How have two teams in consecutive feature races managed to make the same basic strategic error?

    Lotus GP did it to James Calado in Valencia, this time it was Racing Engineering and Fabio Leimer.

    Leimer, who took pole position in superb style yesterday, had romped away with the lead on the wet track and had a comfortable margin over his pursuers. But Racing Engineering were too slow to get his mandatory pit stop out of the way and he paid the price just as Calado did.

    Coincidentally, it was Calado’s retirement that prompted the appearance of the Safety Car that wrecked Leimer’s race. He had just emerged from the pits when his car slowed. Calado rolled to a halt at the pit lane exit.

    Oddly, he passed the pit lane entry long after his problem had become apparent. That and the fact that his team mate Esteban Gutierrez ultimately benefitted most from the Safety Car deployment might have led some to put two and two together.

    From that moment Leimer’s race was ruined – when the Safety Car came in he was the only driver left in the entire field who hadn’t pitted. Making matters worse, the Safety Car was soon out yet again when Stefano Coletti spun and stopped on the Hangar Straight.

    Disappointingly, the race had started behind the Safety Car and stayed that way for eight of the 29 laps before the go was finally given. During that time Daniel de Jong, making his third start and now confirmed as the replacement for Bahrain sprint race winner Tom Dillmann, managed to run into the back of Rodolfo Gonzalez at Copse.

    Leimer’s demise left Gutierrez to collect the win. He had pitted before the Safety Car period and so jumped ahead of Johnny Cecotto Jnr and Jolyon Palmer – they started second and third and finished there.

    Nigel Melker finished fourth with Luiz Razia on his tail, the latter taking a three-point lead in the championship from Davide Valsecchi. The DAMS driver finished seventh behind his team mate Felipe Nasr, the pair rising through the field after DAMS cannily brought them in for their mandatory pit stops during the Safety Car period at the start of the race.

    Eighth gives Giedo van der Garde pole position for tomorrow’s sprint race. Carlin team mates Max Chilton and Rio Haryanto were the final points scorers.


    Keith, I would take issue with the ‘conspiracy’ theory with Calado. In GP2 team mates aren’t really team mates. They are both customers paying the teams for their drives; they owe their teams and their team mates nothing. This is why their are no team orders and they are free to fight. So can’t believe Calado helped out Gutierrez, but accept that the team might have told him to stop at a strategic point on the circuit.


    I personally think Calado should be punished for the way he handled his problem. I don’t think it was his intention to cause a safety car to help the team, but if he had a terminal problem, he should have come straight into the pitlane. Instead he stayed out, getting in a few drivers’ way and stopping in a dangerous place. That’s just selfish, and by driving his car slowly on the track in conditions of low visibility he endangered other drivers.

    Prisoner Monkeys

    To be honest, I’ve totally lost interest in the series this year. I usually follow it because I like to see the up-and-coming talent, but this year there are simply too many pay drivers filling up competitive seats and uncompetitive rookies – like Trummer – taking up the rest. Only a handful have any promise to them. I’d say that this is a result of the series expanding to include rounds in Malaysia, Bahrain and Singapore; it’s just made the category too expsenive.

    GP3 is where it’s at these days. The front end of the grid is competitive, and there’s a few very promising young talents in the likes of Ellinas and Visoiu. I wouldn’t be surprised if teams start doing what Williams have done with Valterri Bottas, and start recruiting them straight out of GP3, and then setting up competitive programs for them in higher categories like GP2.


    Agree with Prisoner Monkeys.

    Such a shame that we can’t see the top junior talent in competition.

    Instead, the proliferation of pay drivers means the real talent is spread across different formulae (GP2, GP3, FR3.5, F2, F3).

    As far as GP2 is concerned, I see real potential in Chilton and Haryanto.

    Haryanto in particular I think I will be in F1 one day. He has genuine talent and would be the first driver from Indonesia (c.4th biggest population in the world to my best recollection) so could attract big sponsorship.

    Prisoner Monkeys

    Well, the GP3 race they just had was bonkers. There’s no other word for it, and I doubt we’ll see anything like it in GP2.

    Gerhard Berger has apparently been put in charge of a commission to make some of the feeder series more relevant – particularly Formula 3, which has been sufferin from declining numbers – and to try and inject some life back into them. Hopefully he can do something to address this problem of the mid-level feeder series being too expensive for most drivers.


    What a race by Razia!


    Yep, the cream rose to the top in the sprint race – another decent race for Silverstone this morning.

    Can’t help wondering how Razia and Valsecchi would get on against all the top Renault 3.5 guys. But you can only beat who’s in front of you, and those two are showing they know how to look after a set of Pirellis, as well as race hard and cleanly. I believe they deserve a shot at F1, although Bottas and Rossi seem to be next in line, thanks to connections rather than recent racing form.

    GP2’s in good hands if promising drivers like Nasr and Calado stick around, but if Felix da Costa was joined in FR3.5 by, say, Vainio and Evans from this strong GP3 field, then more F1 teams could be looking towards the Renault series, not just Toro Rosso.

    Not so clever behind them – Gutierrez wins the Maldonado Award for his brainless last-lap move, losing control on a wet kerb and wiping out Cecotto.

    Prisoner Monkeys

    Bottas and Rossi seem to be next in line, thanks to connections rather than recent racing form.

    Razia used to race for Caterham GP2 when they were Team AirAsia, and Arden is run by Christian Horner. If Jean-Eric Vergne or Daniel Ricciardo were to be replaced before season’s end, Razia might be a decent pair of hands for Toro Rosso.

    GP2′s in good hands if promising drivers like Nasr and Calado stick around, but if Felix da Costa was joined in FR3.5 by, say, Vainio and Evans from this strong GP3 field, then more F1 teams could be looking towards the Renault series, not just Toro Rosso.

    Add Ellinas and Visoiu to that list, too. Ellinas looks like the strongest non-Lotus and non-Arden runner at the moment (and probably stronger than Laine, Fumanelli and Daly), and even if Visiou is mostly in the midfield, he has finished every race in a higher position than he started in (and when he retired in Valencia, he had made up a few places), which isn’t bad for a sixteen year old.


    Great drive by Razia in the Sprint race – he clearly had kept a little in reserve for whatever Valsecchi could throw at him.

    Solid drive by Nasr too for third. But surely Gutierrez will get a penalty for the collision with Cecotto?

    As for the pay driver thing, I agree it’s frustrating. I was particularly annoyed to see Dillmann get dropped. But I think not watching the races because of it is cutting your nose to spite your face. That was an excellent race and the top three all drove excellently.

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