Motorsports Mondial

Davide Valsecchi remains on top in Jerez on Day 2 

Davide Valsecchi confirmed his good form setting the quickest laptime of Day 2 in the 2012 pre-season testing in Jerez. The DAMS driver clocked 1:24.783 in the morning session and left the rest of the field with the task to find the extra pace to try and close the gap with the mighty Italian. 

The morning session was quickly interrupted by a red flag after rookie Felipe Nasr pushed the limits on cold tyres and ended up in the gravel bed. At the restart, Esteban Gutiérrez set the pace with a 1:26.625, but a second red flag stopped the proceedings again. This time, it was GP3 graduate Nigel Melker who lost control of his Ocean Racing car. His day ended prematurely following the damage done on his nachine after contact with the barrier.  When the track went live again, Max Chilton put in a good lap three tenths quicker than Gutiérrez and moved to P1. The quick duo from iSport then had their turn to shine at the top of the timesheet, Marcus Ericsson becoming the first driver to break the 1m26s barrier this week.

The lap after James Calado went quickest, his Mexican teammate improved again and reclaimed the position heading the timesheets. In what felt like a qualifying session for some drivers, it was Valsecchi who settled the argument, setting a blazing laptime of 1:24.967. He improved another two tenths for good measure and would remain unbeaten until the chequered flag. Gutiérrez held onto P2 ahead of Chilton, Stefano Coletti, Jolyon Palmer, Ericsson, Dani Clos, Fabio Onidi, Calado and Fabio Leimer. 

The afternoon session was mostly about race simulations for the teams. Proceedings were stopped in the opening ten minutes after Tom Dillmann suffered from a gearbox problem which ended his programme with Ocean Racing. At the restart, Luiz Razia set the early pace ahead of Simon Trummer and Nasr. A second red flag interrupted the session: Nathanaël Berthon lost control of his Racing Engineering machine and stopped in the gravel bed. 

The remainder of the session saw drivers doing long runs and Valsecchi topping the timesheets again with a laptime of 1:26.648. He stayed unchallenged for most of the afternoon. And just as Giedo van der Garde put his Caterham Racing car on top, a final red flag caused by Julian Leal whose machine stopped on the track in the dying minutes stopped the proceedings again. The session wasn’t restarted as the clock had counted down to zero, therefore preventing any further chance for drivers to improve on their lap times.

Motorsports Mondial

Photo: gp2media

Davide Valsecchi leads the way in Jerez

The GP2 Series paddock gathered in Jerez de la Frontera this week for the first of two official pre-season test sessions. After the winter break, the thirteen teams were eager to hit the track and get back to action. The field welcomed newcomers Venezuela GP Lazarus as the thirteenth team in 2012 and 2013. 

Amidst many familiar faces and some reshuffle of the grid, nine rookies made their first appearance today: British F3 Champion Felipe Nasr, 2011 GP3 Series runner-up James Calado, GP3 graduates Vittorio Ghirelli, Simon Trummer, Tom Dillmann, Nigel Melker and Rio Haryanto (although, some of them took part in the 2011 GP2 Finals last November), Fabio Onidi and Daniel de Jong.

The Series sole tyre supplier Pirelli has provided P Zero slick Hard (Prime) and Medium (Option) compounds for this three-day session.

The day opened in cold temperatures, but in sunny conditions. The twenty-six drivers took to the track quickly for installation laps in order to get to grips with their machine. Carlin’s Haryanto topped the timesheets after one hour gone in the session, but it wasn’t long until Melker at Ocean bettered the Indonesian’s laptime by four tenths. Rodolfo Gonzalez now with Caterham Racing went momentarily top until Lotus GP’s Esteban Gutierrez took control of the timesheets, one tenth quicker than Marcus Ericsson at iSport in P2. As the track warmed up, the Swedish ace went top, but in the final hour, Davide Valsecchi who has moved to DAMS this season improved with every lap until he clocked a laptime of 1:26.014 and remained on top until the chequered flag. His closest rival, newcomer Onidi at Scuderia Coloni finished two tenths behind the Italian. GP2 returnee Jolyon Palmer now with Barwa Addax ended P3 ahead of Ericsson, Gutierrez, Calado, Stéphane Richelmi, Stefano Coletti, Dani Clos and Melker. 

The session was briefly red flagged after Dillmann ran a bit wide and clipped the barrier damaging his Ocean car and ending his morning session prematurely.

The temperature rose again and when the afternoon session began, Fabio Leimer was the first one to set the pace. Valsecchi however continued on his good form and topped the timesheets and his laptime remained unbeaten until a quick red flag brought a halt to proceedings after Ghirelli stopped on the track. At the restart, Ericsson was rapidly on the pace and set the quickest laptime. Halfway through the session, Richelmi went top, but the iSport man reclaimed P1 going 5 hundredths faster than the Trident driver. He remained undefeated until the chequered flag. In a last minute effort, both Lotus GP drivers moved P2 and P3, Gutierrez ahead of Calado. Leimer, Richelmi, Johnny Cecotto, Valsecchi, Berthon, Josef Kral and Max Chilton rounded up the Top 10.

Motorsports Mondial

Jerez de la Frontera, Spain – Mexican driver Esteban Gutierrez is ready to participate in the GP2 official test sessions, which practically initiates the 2012 season of the Formula One feeder series.

The 4.428 km long circuit of Jerez de la Frontera, in Spain, is the stage where team Lotus GP and Gutierrez will do the necessary testing to have a better season start.

“Finally, we have begun after our off-season preparation, where we made a lot of improvement in every aspect such as the physical condition, and took time to analyze what happened last year to try and apply the findings on the new season.

“This season we will be able to put all of that in practice in a very concrete manner in every aspect, as we now have one year experience and I think that will be important; we have to focus on our selves and on the training to evaluate and achieve the improvement we want”.

Official training sessions are very good for the driver, as they represent the beginning of a journey to reach the objectives they have set for 2012, second year for Esteban in GP2.

“The objectives for the year are to be consistent and reach a high level of competitiveness as well as to improve the technical details so we can be strong in qualifying as well as during the race.

“The truth is, that these sessions are very useful because you can test different things in technical terms, you can try new developments although some tests are restricted, but we will be able to further develop part of our suspension and there we could find a little advantage”, he remarked.

Gutierrez expressed that after his GP2 debut last year, he arrives to 2012 with more self confidence and very motivated to have a better year.

The Marussia F1 Team is disappointed to confirm that the planned first test of its 2012 race car – the MR01 – has been delayed as a consequence of not passing the final FIA crash test.

All cars are required to pass 18 FIA-observed tests for homologation to be granted. Despite the fact that the MR01 has passed all 17 of the preceding tests, the regulations require the car to have completed all of the tests before running commences.

The team will now not take part in the final pre-season test in Barcelona later this week (1-4 March) and will instead focus its efforts on repeating the crash test at the end of the week.

Motorsports Mondial

Formula Renault 3.5 Even closer to Formula 1

A new chapter in the history of Renault Sport opens with the launch of a third generation of the Formula Renault 3.5. This new single-seater stays true to the philosophy that made previous models so successful, namely providing exceptionally high performance, cost-efficiency, reliability and technical fairness. Renault Sport Technologies has drawn on its experience in the field and worked with the best partners available to produce this particularly impressive vehicle, which is even faster than before but still has affordable running costs.

The Formula Renault 3.5 Series, flagship discipline of the World Series by Renault, will see the launch of a new car for the 2012 season. The new Formula Renault 3.5 is designed to prepare the brightest young driving talents for life in Formula 1 and features various technological innovations, particularly in terms of aerodynamics and safety.

To keep costs under control, a third of the components from the previous model have been retained. The carbon chassis, designed and built by Dallara, is an evolution of the previous frame. On a visual level, the cockpit, front and rear wings are all radically different.

The rear spoiler features a drag reduction system (DRS) that can be activated by the driver. This system disrupts the airflow in order to increase straight-line speeds. Designed using computational fluid dynamics and later tested in a wind tunnel, DRS is a low-cost way to improve aerodynamic efficiency and increase performance. It also encourages overtaking, which in turn helps to make races even more spectacular.

Performance is also achieved via a new 530 bhp V8 engine, developed by Zytek Engineering and connected to a new semi-automatic gearbox with pneumatic clutch.

Aside from increasing power (50bhp more than the previous model), the engineers at Renault Sport Technologies have also worked hard to reduce the new car’s weight. Despite stricter safety rules, which require, notably, the use of anti-intrusion panels, the new Formula Renault 3.5 is 15kg lighter than its predecessor. This is thanks in no small part to an innovative electronic system, which requires neither a battery nor a starter.

The Formula Renault 3.5 is a springboard to F1, as the likes of Robert Kubica, Sebastian Vettel, Jaime Alguersauri and, more recently, Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne have all proved so brilliantly. This new version of Renault Sport’s top-of-the-range single-seater will allow young drivers to acquaint themselves with the various technologies used in F1.

The development programme, carried out in 2011, took place on several European circuits, with Romain Grosjean, Andy Soucek and Ben Hanley behind the wheel. The new Formula Renault 3.5 immediately demonstrated its speed and reliability.


F1Weekly podcast # 555

Aditya Patel

The Chennai Express

Aditya Patel is a young Indian talent who is quietly but successfully building his racing credentials on European circuits. His racing career started with victory in his first ever kart race and a podium finish on debut in international competition; the Formula BMW Pacific Championship.

Patel was plucked from the Indian racing scene to race in VW Polo Cup in 2009 courtesy of the German manufacturer. Past two seasons he has raced in the Scirocco-R Cup and was placed fifth in the final standings last year.

Impressed by the competition in tin-tops and enthusiasm of European racing fans, “They bring photos of me for autographs racing in India that I have not seen,” Patel said.

This season he will race for Audi in GT3 category with help from their Indian division.

F1Weekly is very pleased to present our conversation with Aditya Patel on our weekend special podcast # 555.

For more information please visit his


— Nasir Hameed


F1Weekly podcast # 554

F1weekly podcast number 554 with two special interviews:

Peter Nygaard from Grand Prix Photo and Young and upcoming American driver Ryan Tveter.

Denmark’s Peter Nygaard studied law at Copenhagen University but during his vacations travelled to Formula 1 races to take photographs, working for his local newspaper in Haslev, in the southern part of Denmark.

After graduation in 1982 he established the Grand Prix Photo company and has since attended more than 350 Grands Prix. Today he not only takes photographs but also writes and commentates about the FIA Formula 1 World Championship.

The company covers every Grand Prix and many other international and national events and with contacts all over the world can supply photos from almost any motor race. In addition to current photography the Grand Prix Photo archive is one of the biggest in the world, Nygaard having acquired the archives of a number of F1 photographers, notably Italian photo-journalist Giancarlo Cevenini and France’s Dominique Leroy plus a portion of Australian Nigel Snowdon’s collection. Grand Prix Photo has 25,000 photographs on its website and millions more in its offices, which are decorated with a Tyrrell 021, which Peter acquired from Ken Tyrrell in the 1990s.

Ryan Tveter, a 17 year-old from Oyster Bay, N.Y., has been impressive in extensive private testing, and has produced notable results in his first foray into the ultra- competitive world of open- wheel racing. In 2011, making his professional open-wheel racing debut, he finished 10th in a field of 44 cars in the Quebec-based Formula Tour 1600 support race at the

Montreal Grand Prix. He followed that up with an 11th-place finish on the famed, and highly technical, Trois-Rivières street circuit at the GP3R in a field of 30 cars. Later that same year, making a big step up into the USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda, he finished 8th in a field of 19 cars at the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix.