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Motorsports Mondial

Photo: caterhamf1

Caterham completes day two of testing at Barcelona.

Vitaly Petrov: “I think that was a pretty positive day. We completed 69 laps and got through most of what we had planned. This morning we had a couple of issues with the seating position and the brakes, but you expect that from a new car and they were little things that we were able to fix quickly. In the afternoon we put in a few more long runs and that’ll give us a lot of data to work on tonight and I think tomorrow it will be more of the same.

“Physically I feel really good. It’s obviously been a while since I’ve been in a car, but I’ve kept up my fitness levels and I enjoyed myself on track, so it’s a good first day back. One thing I have noticed is that this car behaves a little differently from my previous experience and I think I may have to adjust my driving style to get the best out of it – I’ve been quite aggressive before, but I think this car responds better to smoother inputs, so that’s something I can work on, and work with the engineers on. Let’s see what we can come up with for tomorrow.”

Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: “A very reasonable first day with Vitaly in the car. We spent some time this morning getting him acclimatised, focusing particularly on the brakes, but he has settled in well and did exactly what we asked of him today. We have a few points to work on tonight, one of those being to understand how to give him a setup he feels most comfortable with, so tomorrow we expect to be able to continue to progress when he’s back on track for the second day.”

Riad Asmat, Caterham Group Chief Executive Officer: “A good way to introduce Vitaly to the team on track. He acquitted himself well today, putting in a decent number of laps and working well with us to fine-tune the basic setups we need to give him so he’s comfortable in the cockpit. As first days go this was pretty much faultless, and that’s exactly what we wanted from him.”

Lotus GP’s Aaro Vainio quickest in day two of testing in Portugal. 

Finnish driver Aaro Vainio ended the first official GP3 Series pre-season Test as fastest man on day two in Estoril. His best laptime was one second quicker than the benchmark set by Nico Muller yesterday. Vainio had been within the top four quickest drivers on day one and continued his good form into the second day. After heading the morning timesheets, Vanio remained unchallenged for the rest of the day.

It was another glorious day at the Circuito do Estoril for the second and final day of testing for GP3 Series. The early morning pace setter was Mitch Evans, until Vainio claimed control of the session after around thirty minutes. The Finn remained top of the standings. Seven drivers broke into the 1’30s barrier, making a significant improvement on the times set on day one.

Antonio Felix Da Costa was hot on the tails of Vainio’s best efforts and was closely followed by Evans and Conor Daly. Cypriot driver Tio Ellinas then produced a fine effort to shoot up to second fastest and the Marussia Manor Racing star maintained his second quickest time, less than a tenth behind the Lotus GP driver.  

Hungarian Tamas Pal Kiss repeated his day one form with the sixth fastest lap, whilst Patric Niederhauser made massive steps from his best of 16th on day one, to seventh at the close of the morning session. All three Jenzer Motorsport drivers completed times within the top ten, with Mathéo Tuscher the 15 year old, again impressing with the eighth fastest lap ahead of Robert Visoiu in tenth. German driver Daniel Abt in the Lotus GP split the Jenzer Motorsport drivers posting the ninth fastest time. 

The session was briefly red flagged twice when new recruit to GP3 Series, Vicky Piria, spun and stopped on the circuit after testing the limits whilst getting to grips with her second time testing for Trident Racing. 

The afternoon session was eerily quiet for the first hour and then the action began to hot up. Matias Laine took control and was joined by Da Costa at the top of the timesheets. Micki Weckstrom then snuck into second position. Within the last hour Ellinas jumped from third to first while Swiss driver Niederhauser progressed to second. 

Da Costa was third with Marlon Stockinger for Status Grand Prix in fourth. Laine, Kiss and Weckstrom were next in fifth, sixth and seventh. Italian David Fumanelli was eighth fastest ahead of Evans and Nico Müller. Times were around a second slower compared to the morning session.

Motorsports Mondial

Photo: lotusf1

Vettel on top for Red Bull whilst Lotus discovers serious problems on first day of testing at Barcelona.

Romain Grosjean, Lotus F1 Team Race Driver: “We completed a few aero runs and then started timed runs, but I was very quickly aware that the car wasn’t responding as it should. It’s not ideal to lose track time, but fortunately we will have the chassis which ran perfectly in Jerez so I should get some good track time tomorrow. It’s far better that we have an issue like this now rather than in Melbourne.”

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director: “This morning was our first shakedown of our second chassis. Once the car was on track it was soon evident that everything wasn’t quite as it should be. As a precaution we are returning the chassis to Enstone for further investigation. Chassis E20-01, which we used in Jerez, is being sent over and we expect to be on track with that chassis tomorrow.”

Eric Boullier, Team Principal: “This is a minor setback to our overall test programme. Fortunately we accumulated good mileage in Jerez. If this is the only issue we have during testing then we will still be well prepared for the start of the season. We’ll be back on track tomorrow with chassis E20-01 and assessing chassis E20-02 back at Enstone.”

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1.  Vettel         Red Bull        1m23.343s            38
 2.  Hulkenberg     Force India     1m23.440s  + 0.097   47
 3.  Hamilton       McLaren         1m23.590s  + 0.247   45
 4.  Ricciardo      Toro Rosso      1m23.618s  + 0.275   45
 5.  Alonso         Ferrari         1m24.100s  + 0.757   37
 6.  Schumacher     Mercedes        1m24.150s  + 0.807   42
 7.  Perez          Sauber          1m24.219s  + 0.876   29
 8.  Senna          Williams        1m26.188s  + 2.845   56
 9.  Grosjean       Lotus           1m26.809s  + 3.466    7
10.  Kovalainen     Caterham        1m27.537s  + 4.194    9
11.  Pic            Marussia        1m29.248s  + 5.905   65

Photo: gp3media

Portugal hosts first official GP3 test session of 2012

The long wait is finally over! GP3 series is back on track in 2012 with the first official test session in Portugal. Testing takes place over two days – 21-22 February at the Estoril circuit and gives teams and drivers their first opportunity to get a feel with the car – the GP3 10 and to integrate within their squad.

The test will feature many new faces and those drivers will be getting behind the wheel of a GP3 car for the very first time. This test in Estoril is one of three pre-season tests, with Barcelona and Silverstone to come over the next two months before the season commences.

Reigning Champions and newly named Lotus GP will be the team everyone will be watching. Their two confirmed drivers of Daniel Abt and Aaro Vaino will be in the car, along with American Conor Daly. Abt joins the GP3 Series highly rated and will be one of the newcomers keen to make a positive first impression. 

New to the series for 2012 are Trident Racing, who will field four drivers over the two days including the recently announced, Vicky Piria. The young Italian will become the first female driver in the history of the Series. Trident have only revealed Piria so far as part of their line-up, so will be using the test as a chance to evaluate potential drivers for the season ahead which begins in Barcelona in May. 

MW Arden and Marussia Manor Racing will be using their confirmed driver line ups, whilst Status Grand Prix will have Miki Wekstrom (making his debut in a GP3 car) and the experienced Alexander Sims testing the car alongside Marlon Stockinger, the latter having already signed for 2012 with the Irish squad.

Tech 1 Racing have one representative with Robert Cregan behind the wheel – who will also be making his debut.  Jenzer Motorsport will be led by their new Romanian driver, Robert Visoiu, with Patric Niederhauser and Mateo Tuscher also testing for the Swiss team. 

Carlin Racing’s Alex Brundle will be making his maiden appearance for the British team, with Antonio Felix Da Costa and William Buller also sharing the time in the car. Atech CRS GP will have Ethan Ringel (already confirmed) and Tamas Pal Kiss testing. 

Thirteen drivers who will be testing already have their contract with GP3 for the coming year, with eleven drivers on show who will want showcase their ability in their hopes of landing a seat for the season.  Warm temperatures are predicted at the coastal venue.

F1Weekly podcast # 553

High Hopes from the Highlands

Photo. www.formula1onlive.com

From Golspie to Grand Prix next season is the goal of Mister Lewis Williamson. The young Scottish talent is interviewed on a special edition of F1Weekly podcast # 553.

Williamson – from the land of Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart – has been on a fast track to success from his early days in karting. Blessed with immense natural talent and a good head on his shoulders, Williamson won numerous Scottish and British karting titles.

His first foray in single-seaters was equally impressive and successful, winning on debut from pole against a strong field of 24 Formula Jedi cars.

In the 2010 Formula Renault Championship Williamson scored five wins – highlight of which was winning both rounds on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit – five poles and recorded four fastest laps. He was edged out only in the final race of the season for the championship.

The best was yet to come.

Williamson won the demanding and very prestigious 2010 McLaren BRDC Autosport Award, and with it a drive in his namesake’s 2008 British Grand Prix winning car.

Scotland The Brave & Very Quick

Just what the Doctor ordered

Then came the phone call, according to Williamson, “from a foreign number.” On the line laying out a prescription for success and support was Dr. Helmut Marko.

The Red Bull Young Driver Development Program has catapulted the likes of Sebastian Vettel and Jean-Eric Vergne into Formula 1. Their German wunderkind has already won two championships. “JEV” looks set to become the first French world champion after the “Professor.”

Williamson is well aware of the demands of Red Bull but is already delivering on the track for them. In the ultra-competitive GP3 Series last year he finished 8th with a win, a pole and three podium finishes.

Photo. GP3 Series Media

The glorious past and future of Scottish motor racing. Sir Stewart with Sir Speedy.

For the 2012 season, Williamson stays with Christian Horner-owned Arden team but moves up to the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. Both Daniel Ricciardo and Vergne came to Formula 1 from this championship on the wings of Red Bull.

Williamson’s winning ways will also land him at the top echelon of motor racing in the near future.

For more information on his career please visit www.lewiswilliamson.com


— Nasir Hameed


Motorsports Mondial

Photo: tridentracing

First female driver in GP3 signs with Trident Racing

Vicky Piria will be lining-up in the 2012 GP3 Series with Trident Racing. The team, owned by Maurizio Salvadori, is proud to announce the positive outcome of the talks with the highly talented female racer. The Milan-based driver will be forming an all-Italian combination.

Only a few female racers have enjoyed success in open-wheel racing, but that’s extra motivation for Vicky. Her entry in the 2012 GP3 Series represents an important step towards Formula 1. Despite being just 18, she undertook a tough winter training regime and the team were pleased with her results. 

For Trident Racing, the agreement with Piria is a valuable step forward in it’s newborn GP3 program. As the team always look forward to promote young, talented racers, the Italian squad is proud to give an opportunity to shine to an ambitious and great racer like Vicky.

Vicky Piria

“After ending the 2011 F.Abarth season I had the chance to test a Formula 3 car as I saw that as a possible chance for my open-wheel career. When Trident Racing explained to me the details of their GP3 Series program though, I immediately knew that it was the right thing to do for me. I know that there will be many tough aspects to overcome, especially because there will be a lot of more experienced drivers among my opponents. That said, I feel no pressure. I know I can afford a year learning and I’m aware that my goal for 2012 will be to improve step-by-step every lap. 

“I want to learn the tracks which are almost unknown to me and a car that I haven’t driven before. I know I can rely on the help of Trident Racing’s engineers. We immediately got in touch with each other and I wasn’t scared at all in signing with a team I had never tested with. I’m excited by the idea of racing at the same events of Formula 1, and I believe that every driver aiming at the most prestigious series in the world knows that GP3 and GP2 are proven stepping stones”.