TOM DILLMAN ON TOP OF DAY 1 AT JEREZ-
TOM DILLMAN ON TOP OF DAY 1 AT JEREZ-
Having driven a superb race, Kevin Magnussen (Carlin) seemed on course to claim his second win of the season in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. However, on the final lap, the Dane was forced to stop his car following a gearbox oil leak. This allowed Antonio Felix da Costa (Arden Caterham) to grab victory for the first time in the competition. Marco Sorensen (Lotus) finished second and Will Stevens (Carlin) came third to complete an all-rookie podium. Robin Frijns (Fortec Motorsports), meanwhile, strengthened his championship lead and finishes the weekend with a 24-point advantage at the top.
Robin Frijns qualified seven thousandths of a second quicker than Kevin Magnussen to take his fourth pole of the season, after a session in which 16 drivers were separated by less than a second. Arthur Pic (Dams) and Antonio Felix da Costa lined up on the second row, while Jules Bianchi (Tech 1 Racing) and Sam Bird (ISR) – Frijns’s main title rivals – started in seventh and ninth respectively.
As the lights went out, Robin Frijns stayed glued to the starting grid, allowing Kevin Magnussen to take the lead ahead of Antonio Felix da Costa, Will Stevens and Sam Bird. Marco Sorensen got away in fifth place ahead of Arthur Pic, while Robin Frijns slipped down into seventh, just in front of Jules Bianchi. The order changed again on lap three when Jules Bianchi was overtaken by Kevin Korjus. Robin Frijns gained a place the following lap by overtaking Arthur Pic, a move that saw the championship leader climb into sixth place.
With the mantatory pitstop looming, Robin Frijns closed in on Marco Sorensen. Sam Bird was the first of the frontrunners to enter the pits for a change of tyres. Robin Frijns made his stop a lap later, at the same time as Arthur Pic, but the Dutchman rejoined the race behind the Frenchman.
With all the drivers having made their stops, Kevin Magnussen regained the race lead, with Antonio Felix da Costa, Marco Sorensen, Will Stevens, Sam Bird, Arthur Pic and Robin Frijns chasing behind. There was little action of note between the front pair, with Kevin Magnussen managing his race superbly and maintaining a comfortable lead over Antonio Felix da Costa.
But while the order at the front seemed settled, there was a thrilling battle for fifth place in the closing stages of the race. As the laps went by, Robin Frijns grew increasingly impatient behind Arthur Pic and Sam Bird. Frijns eventually pounced on a mistake by Pic and moved up into sixth place.
At the end of the race, the tension in the Carlin camp was palpable as white smoke began to appear from Kevin Magnussen’s car. In the final lap, the Dane was forced to stop his car after falling foul of gearbox oil leak. Antonio Felix da Costa took advantage to snatch a last-gasp victory ahead of Marco Sorensen and Will Stevens. Sam Bird finished fourth, just ahead of Robin Frijns. The result sees Frijns retain his place at the top of the championship with a 24-point lead over Jules Bianchi, who crossed the line in ninth.
What they said:
Antonio Felix da Costa: “I was handed the win after Kevin Magnussen retired. I feel sorry for him, but that’s racing, and it happened to me last week in the GP3 Series. This is a first victory for me and for Arden Caterham, so it’s obviously a great day for us. This isn’t my favourite circuit, but I won both races here in GP3 and now I’ve got my first victory in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series.”
Marco Sorensen: “I’ve had my share of bad luck, particularly at Silverstone, where a puncture cost me the victory. So I’m happy to be back on the podium. We weren’t quite up to scratch in qualifying this weekend. We’ll have to work on that aspect to have a hope of winning one of the remaining races.”
Will Stevens: “Of course, I feel sorry for Kevin. As for me, I learn something every time I get into the car, as I’ve joined directly from the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0. I’m picking up the pace with each race, and this podium is a reward for all the hard work that Carlin and I have been putting in.”
Valsecchi victorious in Bahrain Feature Race
Davide Valsecchi has once again proved his speed and skills at the Bahrain International Circuit: the DAMS ace dominated today’s feature race from start to finish in spite of a safety car period around mid-race. Valsecchi crossed the finish line 7.7s ahead of Luiz Razia. Esteban Gutiérrez snatched third place over Max Chilton on the last lap.
When the lights went out, Valsecchi made the perfect start and kept the lead from Gutiérrez. Further down, Johnny Cecotto made his way to P3 whilst Razia moved up from eighth on the grid to P5, sneaking in behind Felipe Nasr. From then on, Valsecchi pulled away and started to build up a gap that none of his closest rivals could ever reduce.
James Calado was the first of the top ten drivers to pit on Lap 8. On track, Razia was on a mission and passed Nasr for P4 at Turn 1. At the front, Valsecchi was already 6.4s ahead of Gutierrez, so the Mexican decided to pit and so did Razia, but a problem on the Lotus GP man’s rear right tyres meant that he when he rejoined the track he had dropped behind Calado, Razia and Chilton (who had pitted one lap earlier).
When Valsecchi pitted on lap 13, he handed the lead to Fabio Leimer, but the Italian was back in control of the pack a lap later when the Racing Engineering man re-entered the pits. Nathanaël Berthon then in P2 and who still had to observe his mandatory pitstop was much slower than his pursuers and Chilton – the closest one – was eager to pass him, but it was Calado who took advantage of the battle in front of him to sneak ahead of the pair.
The battle for P6 intensified and ended in tears for Nasr and Cecotto. The two cars collided and stopped on track calling for a safety car period. Valsecchi’s efforts to build a comfortable gap of 11.4s was reduced to nothing, and at the restart he pulled away again from Calado. The British rookie started to struggle on his tyres and it became more and more difficult to fend off Razia’s attacks. The Brazilian finally got through on Calado to claim P2. In response, Valsecchi pushed even harder and set the quickest laptime. Chilton and Gutierrez also overtook Calado and started a fight of their own for P3 that lasted until the last lap: the Carlin racer tried with all his might to block the Lotus man, but Gutierrez eventually passed him in a gutsy move to step onto the podium.
At the chequered flag, Valsecchi crossed the finish line ahead of Razia and Gutierrez. Chilton was fourth ahead of Calado. Tom Dillmann – back from P15 on the grid – was sixth and scored his first points in GP2, a just reward to a fantastic race from the French rookie. Leimer was seventh ahead of Fabio Onidi, Rio Haryanto and Brendon Hartley, the latter who had started from last on today’s grid. Onidi will start from tomorrow’s Sprint Race in reverse pole position.
F1weekly podcast number 563 Australian GP discussion
Byfieldt Bypass. Today’s edition of Byfieldt Bypass will see some nose scratching by our mate in Australia, Lucien Byfieldt.
This week’s interview is with Javier Garcia Vicente. One of the original listeners of F1Weekly since the beginning. Javier is from Viva Espana and currently residing in Holland. The music featured on the show today is his own composition. Please enjoy this conversation which was recorded minutes after the finish of the Australian GP last weekend.
On the GP2 Front:
Davide Valsecchi bags Sepang pole
DAMS ace quickest in closely fought qualifying session in Malaysia
Davide Valsecchi set the quickest laptime early in today’s qualifying session with a 1:45.494 on his third lap and was never bettered although his rivals came mighty close with the top five drivers finishing within the same tenth of a second. Luiz Razia and Max Chilton completed the top three.
The first qualifying of the 2012 season kicked off with Esteban Gutiérrez taking to the track first and setting the early pace, but his laptime was improved by one hundredth by Johnny Cecotto. Valsecchi claimed P1 and provisional pole in the first third of the session dipping under 1m46. His teammate Felipe Nasr moved up to P2, but only temporarily as a flying Fabio Leimer clocked a laptime good enough to edge out the Brazilian and close in on Valsecchi, a mere 0.09s slower than the Italian.
A yellow flag was given after Rodolfo Gonzalez went a bit too wide and when the track cleared, Chilton was free to push hard and slipped into P2, 0.06s away from Valsecchi’s best time. As most of the drivers re-entered the pits for some fresh rubbers, Stefano Coletti took advantage of a clear track to move up to P3.
The final ten minutes saw an intense battle for pole and it was Razia who was fastest in Sectors 2 and 3 and shot to P2 a shy 0.6s behind Valsecchi. The Italian, Razia, Chilton, Coletti and Leimer finished within the same tenth whilst the top nineteen drivers were covered by 0.9s. James Calado, Jolyon Palmer, Giedo van der Garde, Fabio Onidi and Nasr rounded up the top ten.
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.
Felipe Nasr joins DAMS
The aim of the DAMS team is to pursue the success it enjoyed in a particularly fruitful 2011 season, and the French team has given itself the weapons to do so. After Davide Valsecchi, the ideal team leader, it has just signed the very promising Brazilian, Felipe Nasr, creating a particularly complementary duo.
Felipe, who was born in Brasilia on 21st August 1992, has literally exploded on the motor racing scene. He made a stunning debut in single-seaters as he won the Formula BMW Europe Championship in his first season in 2009 with 7 victories and 14 podium finishes. He continued his meteoric rise by clinching the title in the very competitive British F3 Championship in 2011 (7 victories, 17 podium finishes) like his idol and fellow-countryman the late Ayrton Senna did in 1983. He is as consistent as he is quick and has showed real maturity for one so young. The duo he forms with Davide Valsecchi, combining experience and speed, is already an awe-inspiring one. The whole team can’t wait to see him in action on the track starting with the first tests at Jerez between 28th February and 1st March.
Jean-Paul Driot, CEO: “I’m really delighted to welcome Felipe to the DAMS team. We’ve known him and followed his progress since his Formula BMW days, and we immediately spotted his incredible potential. We’ll do what’s necessary to allow him to express his talent and develop it throughout the whole GP2 Series Championship. With Davide’s experience and Felipe’s fieriness and youth we’ve got the best possible driver combination.”
Felipe Nasr: “I am very happy that we managed to get all the details worked out and that I will be able to be in GP2 this year. After Italy in 2009, the UK in 2010 and 2011 it is time for me to move again and head to France, thanks to the combined efforts of my family, my manager Steve Robertson, my Brazilian sponsors and of DAMS, I have a new home where to work, improve my driving and prove my worth. I have so much to learn and I am sure that with DAMS in GP2 and with a strong team mate, I am in the right place to learn the trades of the series and of the new tracks that I will face. Have to say that some of them I already know from the Formula BMW time, but it will be a tough challenge getting out of the British cocoon I comfortably was for the last two years. I have no word to describe how happy I am to be able to continue to wear the colors of Brazil with two strong Brazilian sponsors that believe in me and will be supporting my career in the long run.”