Gutiérrez cuts through the field to win

In a race in which the safety car probably led the most laps, Esteban Gutiérrez managed to make the most of the times when the safety car was in to move from 5th to 1st.  At the start of the race the Mexican driver passed Max Chilton and Felipe Nasr to slot in to 3rd, just behind Giedo van der Garde in 2nd and James Calado, who maintained 1st position from the start and began pulling out a lead over his rivals. Before the first time the safety car came out, Calado had a lead of 15 seconds over van der Garde.

The safety car was first brought out when debris off Tom Dillmann's chassis was scattered across the track.  Of the front runner's, only Calado was yet to pit, and his lead over the rest of the field was destroyed by the pack backing up behind the safety car.  When the safety car came in Calado was still in the lead, but was yet to pit.  Only a few laps passed before the safety car came in again, when Jolyon Palmer made contact with the back of Fabrizio Crestani's chassis, flipping Crestani's car twice before it came to rest upside down on the tarmac.  Thankfully Crestani was able to walk away from the accident, and it appears he escaped serious injury.

When the action resumed again, Calado led from Luiz Razia and Esteban Gutiérrez, but was still required to make a pitstop. Gutiérrez managed to pass Luiz Razia for 2nd on lap 23.  Calado finally pit from the lead, just as the safety car came out for the third time of the race, after Giancarlo Serenelli stopped on the circuit after his car was tapped from behind, putting the Venezuelan driver into a spin.  When Calado emerged he was down in 10th, and Gutiérrez became the race leader.  Marcus Ericsson also passed Razia to take 2nd.

Results of the Valencia Feature Race

1. Esteban Gutiérrez 1:00:31.895
2. Marcus Ericsson +1.615
3. Luiz Razia +6.064
4. Fabio Leimer +6.408
5. Rio Haryanto +6.928
6. Nathanaël Berthon +7.605
7. Max Chilton +8.384
8. Davide Valsecchi +10.573
9. James Calado +11.099
10. Stefano Coletti +15.404
11. Simon Trummer +15.782
12. Giedo van der Garde +15.962
13. Julián Leal +16.869
14. Fabio Onidi +17.715
15. Stéphane Richelmi +18.338
16. Josef Král +19.580
17. Rodolfo González +22.983
18. Daniel de Jong +23.456
19. Johnny Cecotto, Jr.1 +39.627
20. Víctor Guerin +1 lap
R. Giancarlo Serenelli Retired
R. Felip Nasr Retired
R. Jolyon Palmer Retired
R. Fabrizio Crestani Retired
R. Tom Dillmann Retired
R. Nigel Melker Retired
1 Johnny Cecotto, Jr. handed a penalty for an unsafe pit release.

Evans on pole for Valencia feature race

At the Valencia Street Circuit this morning, New Zealander Mitch Evans took his first pole of the season and will start from the front in the feature race later today.  When the qualifying session started the Lotus GP drivers were the first to take to the track, with Conor Daly looking to qualify  well, knowing he would be starting well down the grid thanks to a 10-place grid penalty as a result of a collision with Dmitry Suranovich at Monaco.  Evans was soon on top, however, and then became the first to go faster than 1:59.  Despite briefly losing pole to his team-mate David Fumanelli, Evans managed to go 3-hundredths of a second faster.

Series leader Aaro Vainio will start from 3rd on the grid. António Félix das Costa will start from last on the grid, having been penalised post-session as his brake discs were adjudged to have been thinner than stipulated in the Dallara manual. Daly will start 16th after his penalty.

Grid for Valencia Feature Race

1. Mitch Evans 1:58.478
2. David Fumanelli 1:58.511
3. Aaro Vainio 1:58.567
4. Kevin Ceccon 1:58.772
5. Tio Ellinas 1:59.009
6. Matias Laine 1:59.031
7. Marlon Stöckinger 1:59.091
8. Daniel Abt 1:59.276
9. Tamás Pál Kiss 1:59.332
10. William Buller 1:59.356
11. Alice Powell 1:59.399
12. Robert Visoiu 1:59.568
13. Fabiano Machado 1:59.708
14. Alex Brundle 1:59.820
15. Patric Niederhauser 1:59.906
16. Conor Daly1 1:59.015
17. John Wartique 2:00.047
18. Dmitry Suranovich 2:00.062
19. Robert Cregan 2:00.306
20. Antonio Spavone 2:00.334
21. Vicky Piria 2:00.406
22. Ethan Ringel 2:01.300
23. Carmen Jordá 2:02.103
24. António Félix da Costa2 1:58.991
1 Conor Daly handed a 10-place grid penalty for a collision with Dmitry Suranovich at Monaco.
2 António Félix da Costa demoted to the back of the grid for running brake pads thinner than regulations allow.

Calado on pole at Valencia

James Calado's brilliant début season in GP2 Series continued with pole at the Valencia Street Circuit, just pipping Felipe Nasr to the top spot by 7 thousandths of a second.

Early on the session was called to a halt when Giancarlo Serenelli spun and stopped in the middle of the track, forcing red flags to be shown until his car could be removed.  When the session began again, series leader Davide Valsecchi went fastest, before seeing his time bettered by Esteban Gutiérrez and Nasr, before Calado claimed pole with his fastest laps.

In his first ever GP2 Series qualifying session, Daniël de Jong, who is replacing an ill Ricardo Teixeira this weekend, had a torrid time, qualifying 25th.

Post-session penalties were handed to Gutiérrez, Valsecchi, Johnny Cecotto, Jr. and Simon Trummer as punishment for their impeding other drivers.  Gutiérrez, Valsecchi and Cecotto, Jr. were handed 3-place grid penalties, while Trummer was handed a 2-place grid penalty.
As he did not set a time, Serenelli will not be on the grid for the feature race.
EDIT: Actually, Serenelli will start, from 26th.

Grid for Valencia Feature Race

1. James Calado 1:47.342
2. Felipe Nasr 1:47.349
3. Giedo van der Garde 1:47.543
4. Max Chilton 1:47.674
5. Esteban Gutiérrez1 1:47.444
6. Davide Valsecchi1 1:47.458
7. Fabio Leimer 1:47.779
8. Jolyon Palmer 1:47.801
9. Marcus Ericsson 1:47.972
10. Rio Haryanto 1:47.996
11. Luiz Razia 1:48.155
12. Tom Dillmann 1:48.176
13. Stefano Coletti 1:48.222
14. Stéphane Richelmi 1:48.288
15. Nathanaël Berthon 1:48.518
16. Fabio Onidi 1:48.578
17. Johnny Cecotto, Jr.1 1:48.390
18. Simon Trummer2 1:48.565
19. Josef Král 1:48.626
20. Julián Leal 1:48.641
21. Fabrizio Crestani 1:48.846
22. Rodolfo González 1:48.936
23. Nigel Melker 1:49.021
24. Víctor Guerin 1:49.335
25. Daniël de Jong 1:49.900
26. Giancarlo Serenelli
1 Esteban Gutiérrez, Davide Valsecchi and Johnny Cecotto, Jr. handed 3-place grid penalties for impeding other cars.
2 Simon Trummer handed a 2-place grid penalty for impeding other cars.


Cecotto on pole in Monaco

In qualifying for the GP2 feature race in Monaco, Johnny Cecotto, Jr. carried his form from practice through, setting a time of 1:21.195 to take pole.  At the street circuit qualifying had been split into two groups.  The driver that set the fastest lap time would take pole, with the fastest driver from the other group starting 2nd. This means that although Max Chilton, the fastest driver from group A, set a lap-time slower than Marcus Ericsson's, the second fastest driver in group B, he will start from 2nd on the grid. This is Cecotto, Jr.'s first pole in his GP2 career. Series leader Davide Valsecchi will start from 7th on the grid.

Grid for Monaco Feature Race

1. Johnny Cecotto, Jr. 1:21.195
2. Max Chilton 1:21.320
3. Marcus Ericsson 1:21.249
4. Giedo van der Garde 1:21.475
5. Luiz Razia 1:21.858
6. Jolyon Palmer 1:21.530
7. Davide Valsecchi 1:21.912
8. Josef Král 1:21.776
9. Fabio Leimer 1:22.053
10. Esteban Gutiérrez 1:21.796
11. Tom Dillmann 1:22.288
12. Stefano Coletti 1:22.174
13. James Calado 1:22.598
14. Stéphane Richelmi 1:22.326
15. Julián Leal 1:22.762
16. Nathanaël Berthon 1:22.475
17. Rodolfo González 1:22.873
18. Felipe Nasr 1:22.650
19. Nigel Melker 1:22.996
20. Simon Trummer 1:22.997
21. Fabio Onidi 1:23.020
22. Fabrizio Crestani 1:23.193
23. Rio Haryanto 1:23.539
24. Víctor Guerin 1:23.792
25. Giancarlo Serenelli 1:25.907
26. Ricardo Teixeira 1:25.661


GP2 Series Round 4 Analysis

Best performance: Giedo van der Garde
Giedo van der Garde has been somewhat inconsistent so far this season, but at Catalunya he produced a great performance in the feature race, which he followed up with more points in the sprint race.  Qualifying 5th itself represented a decent result, but in the feature race he got a good start, moving up to 3rd. Timing his pitstop right managed to give him the lead, and he then drove very maturely to manage his tyres in order to finish 1st.  In the sprint race he managed to move from 8th to 6th to take another 4 points.

Worst performance: Marcus Ericsson
At the start of the season it was thought that Marcus Ericsson would be challenging for the title.  While he had struggled in the first 3 rounds this could, in part, have been put down to him not having experience at the tracks.  At Catalunya, however, this cannot be used as an excuse, as he has driven there before, and finished on the podium in the same race last year.  His qualifying performance left him 14th, with a lot of work to do. He only managed to move forward one place, finishing in 13th. In the sprint race a points finish was looking a possibility, before he picked up a drive-through penalty for ignoring waved yellows, seeing him finish the race in 22nd. Any chance of a title challenge is disappearing fast.

Race rating: 7/10
Not the greatest round, but some good action throughout the field and watching van der Garde's strategy unfold stopped the GP2 race from being as dull as the GP3 race was.

Drivers' Championship

1. Davide Valsecchi 129
2. Luiz Razia 104
3. James Calado 69
4. Giedo van der Garde 60
5. Esteban Gutiérrez 59
6. Max Chilton 57
7. Fabio Leimer 41
8. Felipe Nasr 28
9. Tom Dillmann 27
10. Stefano Coletti 26
11. Nathanaël Berthon 23
12. Rio Haryanto 16
13. Fabio Onidi 12
14. Marcus Ericsson 8
15. Jolyon Palmer 4
16. Johnny Cecotto, Jr. 2
17. Simon Trummer 1
18. Brendon Hartley 1
19. Fabrizio Crestani 1

Teams' Championship

1. DAMS 157
2. Lotus GP 128
3. Arden International 105
4. Carlin 73
5. Racing Engineering 64
6. Caterham Racing 60
7. Scuderia Coloni 38
8. Rapax 27
9. iSport International 12
10. Barwa Addax 2
11. Ocean Racing Technology 1
12. Venezuela GP Lazarus 1

GP3 Series Round 1 Analysis

Best performance: Patric Niederhauser
There were no real stand-out performances at Catalunya, but Patric Niederhauser performed well in both races.  Having qualified 7th for the feature race, he managed to work his way up to 4th, and also set the fastest lap. In the sprint race he collected another 6 points by finishing 5th. Honourable mentions should go to the race winners, Mitch Evans and Conor Daly, but they had disjointed weekends, with good performances in one race offset by poor performances in the other.

Worst performance: Carmen Jordá
Just as there weren't any performances that stand out as the best, there weren't really any that stand out as being the worst.  While it was largely expected of her, Carmen Jordá spent the entire weekend anchored at the back of the field and never looked like she could do better, finishing 20th in the feature race and 21st in the sprint race, last of the drivers that managed to complete the race distance.

Race rating: 4/10
It was a shame to have both races decided by stewards' decisions, rather than on the track.  The majority of the overtaking took place at the start, though there was some good racing after the safety car had been out in the sprint race.

Drivers' Championship

1. Mitch Evans 25
2. Conor Daly 23
3. Aaro Vainio 23
4. Matias Laine 20
5. Patric Niederhauser 20
6. Marlon Stöckinger 18
7. Robert Visoiu 16
8. António Félix da Costa 6
9. Tio Ellinas 6
10. Daniel Abt 4
11. Alex Brundle 2
12. David Fumanelli 2
13. Kevin Ceccon 2

Teams' Championship

1. Lotus GP 50
2. MW Arden 47
3. Jenzer Motorsport 36
4. Status Grand Prix 18
5. Carlin 8
6. Marussia Manor Racing 6
7. Ocean Racing Technology 2


Razia wins from pole

Luiz Razia took his second win of the season in the sprint race at Catalunya, having started on pole.  At the start Razia got away cleanly, while Max Chilton, who was 2nd on the grid, started poorly, holding up the cars behind him. Razia was then able to steadily pull away from the chasing pack, finishing the race over 5 seconds ahead of 2nd place.  Just as in the GP3 races at Catalunya this weekend there was a jump start, and Víctor Guerin was given a drive-through penalty by the stewards.

Thanks to the Carlin driver getting a poor start, Nathanaël Berthon and Davide Valsecchi were able to pass Chilton, who then came under pressure from James Calado.  On lap 4 the Lotus GP driver passed his fellow Brit to take 4th place. On lap 11 Marcus Ericsson was handed a drive-through penalty for ignoring yellow flags.

Having passed Chilton, Calado began to close the gap on Davide Valsecchi, and for most of the final laps of the race was close enough to try and pass the DAMS driver, but the series leader managed to hold off the challenge, finishing 3rd behind Berthon who was 2nd. The fastest lap was set by Víctor Guerin.

Results of the Catalunya Sprint Race

1. Luiz Razia 40:08.411
2. Nathanaël Berthon +5.256
3. Davide Valsecchi +5.897
4. James Calado +6.575
5. Max Chilton +13.117
6. Giedo van der Garde +14.362
7. Esteban Gutiérrez +14.874
8. Stefano Coletti +19.223
9. Felipe Nasr +19.703
10. Fabrizio Crestani +21.570
11. Fabio Leimer +22.852
12. Tom Dillmann +23.312
13. Johnny Cecotto, Jr. +30.155
14. Rodolfo González +30.601
15. Rio Haryanto +31.281
16. Josef Král +31.834
17. Julián Leal +32.817
18. Fabio Onidi +34.371
19. Stéphane Richelmi +34.818
20. Simon Trummer +35.426
21. Víctor Guerin +38.977
22. Marcus Ericsson +39.878
23. Ricardo Teixeira +41.979
24. Nigel Melker +48.441
R. Giancarlo Serenelli Retired
R. Jolyon Palmer Retired

Conor Daly is the sprint race winner

In the sprint race at Catalunya it was Conor Daly who took the victory, after yet another driver lost the lead thanks to a penalty as a result of jumping the start.  When the race began Tio Ellinas, starting from 2nd passed pole-sitter Robert Visoiu and began building a lead, before the stewards found him to have jumped the start, giving him a drive-through penalty. This gave the lead to Daly, who had also had a good start, moving from 3rd to 2nd. Also penalised for a false start was Carmen Jordá.

An accident at turn 4 of lap 1 saw Dmitry Suranovich, Robert Cregan, Antonio Spavone and Tamás Pál Kiss retire, and yesterday's race winner Mitch Evans was forced to pit after suffering a puncture.  On lap 12 David Fumanelli was given a drive-through penalty for ignoring yellow flags, dropping him from 4th to 17th. Fabiano Machado's race cam to an end on lap 12 when the Brazilian spun into the gravel when attempting to pass Kotaro Sakurai.

Conor Daly slowly built his lead over Robert Visoiu over the course of the race and was over 3.2 seconds ahead of the Romanian driver when the race ended.  The victory is Daly's first ever in GP3 Series.  By finishing 2nd Robert Visoiu became the youngest driver to ever stand on the podium in GP3 Series. Matias Laine was 3rd, and the fastest lap was set by Kevin Ceccon.

Post-race there were penalties for António Félix da Costa and William Buller.  Félix da Costa was given a 1-second penalty for driving with another competitor and gaining an unfair advantage, dropping him from 6th to 7th.  Buller was penalised for causing a collision and will have a 5-place grid penalty applied for the feature race in Monaco.

Results of the Catalunya Sprint Race

1. Conor Daly 27:21.043
2. Robert Visoiu +3.265
3. Matias Laine +4.168
4. Aaro Vainio +4.877
5. Patric Niederhauser +5.669
6. Daniel Abt +9.341
7. António Félix da Costa1 +8.688
8. Alex Brundle +9.833
9. William Buller +12.090
10. Kevin Ceccon +12.401
11. Alice Powell +13.664
12. Kotaro Sakurai +16.703
13. John Wartique +21.703
14. Jakub Klasterka +25.550
15. Tio Ellinas +28.133
16. Vicky Piria +31.239
17. David Fumanelli +31.608
18. Ethan Ringel +37.862
19. Marlon Stöckinger +38.449
20. Mitch Evans +51.421
21. Carmen Jordá +1:16.560
R. Fabiano Machado Retired
R. Tamás Pál Kiss Retired
R. Robert Cregan Retired
R. Dmitry Suranovich Retired
R. Antonio Spavone Retired
1 António Félix da Costa handed a 1-second penalty for driving with another competitor and gaining an unfair advantage.


Mitch Evans stays calm at the start to win

Before today Mitch Evans' only win in GP3 Series had come at Catalunya in last year's feature race. One year on he has repeated the feat in the opening race of the 2012 championship.  At the start Mitch Evans managed to move up one place from 4th to 3rd, but it was Daniel Abt who had a lightning quick start, going from 6th to 1st before the first corner. His start was so good that the stewards adjudged that he had actually jumped the start, as were António Félix da Costa, and Antonio Spavone, and all three were given drive-through penalties. This gave Evans the lead, and he held 1st position from then until the end of the race. The penalties also saw Marlon Stöckinger promoted to 2nd and Aaro Vainio to 3rd.

Mid-way through the race Kevin Ceccon, who had been unable to set a time during qualifying, had more misfortune come his way as he stopped on the track at turn 9.  Given that he was in a dangerous position, the safety car was forced to come out while his car was removed from the track by the marshals.  When the safety car came in and racing resumed, Vainio found himself under pressure from Patric Niederhauser, with the cars side-by-side at points.  Vaino was able to hold off the Swiss driver, however, and finished the race in 3rd.

Finishing in 8th position and getting pole for tomorrow's sprint race was Robert Visoiu. Patric Niederhauser set the fastest lap.

Results of the Catalunya Feature Race

1. Mitch Evans 28:38.738
2. Marlon Stöckinger +2.609
3. Aaro Vainio +4.594
4. Patric Niederhauser +5.071
5. Matias Laine +6.284
6. Conor Daly +6.941
7. Tio Ellinas +7.419
8. Robert Visoiu +10.102
9. David Fumanelli +11.046
10. Alex Brundle +11.291
11. Dmitry Suranovich +15.105
12. Tamás Pál Kiss +15.752
13. Daniel Abt +16.231
14. António Félix da Costa +16.577
15. Robert Cregan +17.132
16. Fabiano Machado +17.775
17. Antonio Spavone +18.284
18. Kotaro Sakurai +19.087
19. Jakub Klasterka +19.626
20. Carmen Jordá +22.224
21. John Wartique +23.070
22. Vicky Piria +32.897
23. William Buller +46.346
R. Kevin Ceccon Retired
R. Ethan Ringel Retired
R. Alice Powell Retired