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“GP2 Series: ‘2nd in points possible’ says Evans”

© Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.

© Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.

Despite a tough opening portion of the season, New Zealand’s Mitch Evans claims some good prizes are still possible, but also that the title may be beyond him.

Evans, who has taken two wins and a podium this season, has suffered from bouts of unreliability and a RUSSIAN TIME car that has occasionally proved a handful to drive.

However the Kiwi believes the outlook for the rest of the year is reasonably good. “At the start of the season, we were quick, but we didn’t have enough to be challenging for race wins,” said the 20-year-old at a recent race meet in Hockenheim.

While it might be tempting to think a title challenge is on the cards following Evans’ two Feature Race victories at Silverstone and Hockenheim, the Auckland native is a somewhat more grounded. “Maybe Jolyon [Palmer, points leader] is too far ahead, but we will give it everything we’ve got until it is not possible.”

Over the opening two weekend’s in Bahrain and Spain, Evans had only scored two points; however a podium at the next round in Monaco proved a turning point.
“We had a car to get to the podium if we had a good race,” says Evans of his runner-up finish behind Palmer, adding, “the car still had a lot of room for improvement, but I seem to go well around there, so I could still drive around it.”

Following a difficult round in Hungary last weekend, the affable Kiwi lays 100 points adrift of Palmer as the GP2 Series enters it summer break. Considering the gap, Evans believes more humble goals are workable. “We have to be realistic. Obviously 2nd and 3rd [in points] are still realistic.”
With four race weekends remaining, Evans is 6th in the standings with 92 points, but remains within close proximity to the Stoffel Vandoorne / Johnny Cecotto Jr / Stefano Coletti battle.

Current 2nd place man Felipe Nasr may be a tougher fight, but the 2012 GP3 Series Champion thinks there is more to come from his Mechachrome-powered Dallara.
The long break between Monaco and Austria offered the RUSSIAN TIME team an opportunity to consider their issues and there appears to have been some success. “In Austria we made improvements and then we really made a step forward in Silverstone.”

Yet, it is not inconceivable that the lost weekend in Hungary could cost Evans come the finale in November; however despite that the RUSSIAN TIME racer and Mark Webber protégé has still outscored Nasr by 52-44 points since Silverstone.
Meanwhile, Evans remains positive as the series enters yet another four-week gap, as he looks to his RUSSIAN TIME team to continue to eat into the gap ahead. “We will see what happens. Hopefully we can keep that up for the rest of the championship.”

Evans was a winner in Hockenheim. © Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.

Evans was a winner in Hockenheim. © Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.

“Euroformula Open alters season finale date”

Euroformula Open will now finish in November. © Speedyfoto.

Euroformula Open will now finish in November. © Speedyfoto.

GT Sport yesterday announced a late change to the end of the 2014 Euroformula Open calendar.

From mid-October, the series’ last round will now play out from October 31st to November 2nd at the Circuit de Cataluña, just outside Barcelona.

GT Sport have cited only “calendar reasons” to account for the change. The sixth and seventh rounds – to be held at Spa-Francorchamps and Monza respectively – will maintain their previous scheduled dates of September 5th-7th and September 26th-28th.

“Rossi joins Marussia F1 as Reserve”

© Alexander Rossi Official

© Alexander Rossi Official

Alexander Rossi has joined the Marussia F1 team as the official reserve driver of the squad.

The California native has switched to the Anglo-Russian squad following his split from the Caterham F1 Driver Development Programme earlier this month.

A race winner in both Formula Renault 3.5 and the GP2 Series, Rossi nevertheless struggled this season to score points with a Caterham GP2 team that has not held on to pre-season form.

Despite this, Rossi feels confident that he can prove a top prospect with the Marussia squad, who currently reside 9th in the Formula One Constructors’ Championship.

“Today is a good day and next step in my Formula 1 career,” said Rossi in a press release today. “Since my initial discussions with the Marussia F1 Team management, I’ve felt right at home. I’m looking forward to working with the Team in Hungary and building for the rest of the season.”

Rossi also noted that the timing with which he joined Marussia is crucial, as it will allow the 22-year-old several weeks to integrate into the team without interruption. Although a reserve driver for the moment, the American still has eyes on the big prize. “My goal is Formula 1, and I’m delighted to be immersed into the Team as Official Reserve Driver, where I have the opportunity to prepare for this next step.” As with Caterham, Rossi noted that there may be plans to compete in at least one Friday morning practice session this season.

The past twelve months have proved key for Marussia. After overhauling Caterham for 10th place in the 2013 World Championship, the team are currently holding steady in 9th following Jules Bianchi’s captured two points at Monaco in May.

Upon the announcement Marussia Team Principal, John Booth, commented, “[Alexander] is a proven talent whom we have observed in GP2 and we have also been impressed by his performances during Friday morning free practice sessions over the past two seasons,” he said, adding: “Alexander will be an integral part of the Team, immersing himself in our engineering activity so that he is fully prepared should he ever be required to deputise for one of the race drivers.”

It is unknown at this whether Rossi will compete in any further GP2 Series rounds.

Rossi with Jules Bianchi (left) and Max Chilton (right). © Alexander Rossi Official

Rossi with Jules Bianchi (left) and Max Chilton (right). © Alexander Rossi Official

Rossi may run in one practice session. © Alexander Rossi Official

Rossi may run in one practice session. © Alexander Rossi Official

“Giovesi becomes Caterham F1 junior”

© Auto GP Organisation

© Auto GP Organisation

Auto GP World Series race winner Kevin Giovesi joined the Caterham F1 Academy yesterday.

The Italian, who currently resides 4th in the standings, joins Nathanaël Berthon in the junior squad, following the team’s split with Alexander Rossi just over one week ago.

See Also:
“Berthon joins Caterham Development Programme”

Following spells in GP2 and European F3 Open (now Euroformula Open), Giovesi committed himself to the Auto GP Series with Eurotech FMS Racing and has rewarded the Italian squad with two reverse grid victories.
However the shallow nature of Auto GP’s field this year raises obvious questions as to real weight value of those victories.

On paper, it is questionable whether Giovesi has come close to obtaining the results that would warrant such a promotion. Occasional race victories in Auto GP, European F3 Open and Italian F3 are all well and good, but one must question whether it is enough to deserve such a move up the order. There may be, and probably are of course, other motives involved.
Giovesi does have two titles to his name, having won the 2009 Formula Lista Junior Series and the Copa Class of the 2012 European F3 Open Series.

“German Grand Prix Lapchart”

2014 German GP lapchart. © Leigh O’Gorman.

2014 German GP lapchart. © Leigh O’Gorman.

As noted previously, the secret to a good lapchart is to work fast and work diligently.

Realistically, this is where the bulk of my race report is formed, so it needs to be as accurate as possible.

It can actually get a bit easier as the race unfolds and gaps form between cars, although it can get complicated again when lapping occurs followed by pitstops allowing drivers to unlap themselves, before getting lapped again.

See also:
“For the record, how I do what I do…”

As a note (you probably can’t see it too well from the pic), but the lap chart contains several legends, including:

“]” (covering two or more drivers) indicates a gap of less than a second;
“P” means driver in pits;
“DTP” means drive-through penalty;
”FL” means fastest lap (important in categories where bonus points are added for fastest lap);
”x” means driver has retired;
”/” (between drivers across two lap boxes) means one driver has overtaken another.

Across the top of the sheet, a constant gap is monitored between p1 and p2. As well as marking this, I also maintain shorthand notes during the race to help expend on particular incidents or battles.

“GP2 Series Analysis: Evans makes it 200, not out”

Evans wins the 200th GP2 race. © Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.

Evans wins the 200th GP2 race. © Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.

That’s 200! A large number of races indeed. An anniversary suitably celebrated by the GP2 Series on the Saturday at Hockenheim.

For this writer, it goes back further than that. So many Saturday afternoons sitting in watching Formula 3000 on Eurosport – oh, the heady days of Williams protégé Juan-Pablo Montoya and McLaren junior Nick Heidfeld battling it out sticks in the mind.

But it could never last. Like so, so many categories, Formula 3000 became entangled in its own myth and soon spiraled out of control and by 2004, it was a dead category.
When Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen leapt straight from Formula 3 and Formula Renault UK respectively into to Formula One, F3000 should have taken action there and then.

Instead, it maintained an arrogant stance, its head stuck firmly in the sand and watched as the world passed it by, while increasing costs and irrelevance cast its death spell.
And the world did pass it by…

In 2005, GP2 blew all that away. Names like Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Timo Glock, Romain Grosjean, Nico Hülkenberg, Jules Bianchi, Sebastien Buemi and James Calado have passed through and graduated into the likes of Formula One, DTM and the World Endurance Championship, while others have moved into the IndyCar Series, WTCC and national or international GT racing.

Admittedly, recent years have seen difficulties arise, especially where funding is concerned, but the series has made a number of moves to reduce the financial burden – it needed to.
Formula One has also proved a problem. With the huge monies needed to fund even a back of the grid seat, some drivers – and recent champions – have been overlooked in favour of those with blank cheques waiting to be signed.

Through all this, the GP2 Series has been kept on its toes, partially by its sibling, the GP3 Series, but mainly by the Formula Renault 3.5 category, which also acts as a guide to the top rank of motorsport.

Could it be healthier..? Yes, but then again so could most of motorsport.

Feature Race
“The car was sensational today,” beamed New Zealand born racer Mitch Evans, after he won the 200th GP2 Series race at the Hockenheimring on Saturday.

Thanks to a mixture of clever strategy and stellar driving, the RUSSIAN TIME racer stifled Stoffel Vandoorne and Jolyon Palmer through the final few laps, to take the race by just 0.414s after 38 tours.

Under the intense heat, tyre degradation was originally thought to be a potential deciding factor; however while the drop off was less than expected, the soaring temperatures did considerably alter the approach of the drivers, as drivers found they could push just a little harder than originally anticipated.

It transpired there were other considerations too. Having discovered a problem with the front anti-roll bar after qualifying, the team realigned and pushed into the race using information from Silverstone.
However, having only qualified on the eighth row, the task at hand was massive. “We were out of position massively, but we weren’t sure where we were in terms of speed. We were a bit lost…”

Incredibly, the baseline Silverstone set-up worked and Evans’ intelligent drive thereafter did the rest. Starting on the soft Pirelli tyres, Evans escaped a first lap scare when he collided with Alexander Rossi; however the Kiwi emerged undamaged. “I had a really good start up to P11 in the first lap I think and made up a few more I think up to P8…”
Rossi was less fortunate. “It was disappointing to be hit by Evans in turn six just after the safety car. It was another opportunity lost, ending my day with minor damage to the steering.”

From there, strategy began to play its canny hand. Maintained a steady pace before pitting on lap 13, Evans fell to behind the recently stopped Stéphane Richelmi, whom was dispatched within three laps. “After the pitstop it was pretty much about putting my head down and look after the tyres a bit longer,” the Kiwi mentioned.
Now just over thirty seconds adrift of the lead, Evans began to cut small clumps of time out of the leaders; only lose tenths here and there when traffic came into play; however the RUSSIAN TIME threat remained. He further told, “I was not cruising but I was taking one lap after the other, taking care of the tyres. I knew I had a good pace, but I was hoping for top eight or top six…”

As Vandoorne controlled the front with a series of laps in the 1’28” bracket, Evans launched into the 1’27s on the harder Pirelli’s, yet the once the edge peeled away Evans began lapping approximately one second slower, while Vandoorne began to dip into the 1’29s.
It was enough. As Vandoorne returned to the track after stopping on lap 25, the Belgian dropped in behind Evans, but unusually held back, as he explained: “The radio was not working properly.” As his inner ear monitors crackled, half messages were sent back and forth, with garblings gaining clarity. “I asked the team if I had to push and overtake. I misunderstood the team and I thought Mitch still had to stop. So I didn’t even try to attack him.”
It was only two laps from the end when the Belgian realised the true position of the race, but it was too late by then and while Evans was certainly beginning to struggle on his Pirelli’s, Vandoorne was not convinced a push for the lead would have worked in his favour. “Whether I could have overtaken Mitch is difficult to say, but at least I could have put pressure on him,” noted the ART Grand Prix man.

Vandoorne did make one attempt for the lead on lap 38, but it was far too lte and Evans held his nerve and his lead to take his 2nd win of the season. Make no mistake – this was a brilliantly gauged victory for the RUSSIAN TIME team. Still smiling, still in shock, Evans beamed, “I’m still trying to realise what happened really. Now I’m very happy with two feature race wins in a row.”

Palmer dropped two seconds behind Vandoorne in the last couple of tours, but the championship leader was well ahead of 4th place driver Stefano Coletti come the end. Coletti, however, only narrowly pipped Felipe Nasr at the flag, after the pair had an astonishing battle with Simon Trummer, Johnny Cecotto Jr and Adrian Quaife-Hobbs.
After running 4th for much of the race, Nasr stopped on lap 24 – one after Coletti – however having dropped three seconds behind the Monegasque driver in the first portion of the race, there was little Nasr could do to overhaul his rival, despite Coletti setting an astonishing slow in-lap. It’s another points finish for Nasr, but also more points lost to Palmer in the standings.

Amidst the quick Coletti / Nasr fight, the early stopping Quaife-Hobbs proved a blockage late in the race, while Trummer and Cecotto Jr stumbled over each other as each tried to break the Englishman.
Trummer followed through into 6th place – setting his fastest lap on the last one –while Cecotto Jr’s pace fell away, while he maintained 7th. Nathanaël Berthon persevered to take 8th after stopping on lap 13 – a brilliant drive to the points and reverse grid pole for Race Two.
Marco Sørensen finished 9th after climbing up from the penultimate row of the grid and Stéphane Richelmi closed out the top ten, scoring the final point for DAMS.

The race was briefly interrupted after the start by the safety car. Following collisions between Sergio Canamasas and Conor Daly, Artem Markelov and Jon Lancaster and the Evans / Rossi incident, the area from the exit of turn two, through the Parabolika and the Hairpin became littered with debris. With punctures a very real possibility, the race was neutralised for three laps until the carbon fibre remnants were cleared. Daly was also hit with a drive through penalty for pit lane speeding, when his speed sensor failed for the fifth time this season.

Sprint Race
“It’s been a long time,” exclaimed an astonished Coletti on Sunday following his first GP2 win in over a year.

Having seen off ART Grand Prix’s Stoffel Vandoorne just after the midpoint, the GP2 veteran bore some intensive pressure from championship challenger Felipe Nasr in the final laps, but held on to win by 1.2s.

Starting 6th on a wet and cold Hockenheim circuit, the Monegasque racer was one of many drivers involved in low speed collisions and spins that – for a time – turned the race on its head.
Inexplicably at the time, Coletti opted to start on slick tyres and dropped as low as 18th in the early stages, but with the track forming a dry line and others beginning to pit for slicks, the race came to the nimble Coletti. It was a masterstroke. “The mission at the start was to at least stay ahead of all the other drivers who also started on slicks in order to be in front as soon as the track dried up.”

The cooler temperatures kept the leader’s tyre degradation in check, although there were still occasional scares due to falling lower than usual levels of grip. Yet Coletti persevered, taking a popular victory under some of racing’s trickiest conditions. “In the end, it worked out quite well,” said the slightly surprised victor. “We had a safety car that helped us in the first few laps. That helped to keep the gap with the cars ahead of us not too big. Then, we knew we just had to wait…”

For Nasr, it wasn’t quite enough. Like Coletti, the Brazilian gambled on slicks at the start and for a time, it appeared as if he too had made a dramatic error; however there was some logic to the pre-race gamble. “When I was on the grid, we looked around and Mike, my engineer, told me that it had stopped raining. It was still warm outside and the track dries pretty quickly here. I knew it was going to be very difficult at the beginning, but we took the decision together to start on slicks.”
From 4th, Nasr fell to 20th, but he too began to progress up the order as grip came back to the slick shod men. “I was just keeping the car on the track, avoiding everyone. I had cars spinning in front of me, a lot of spray…”

Indeed Nasr may have had a better chance at stealing the win from Coletti had he not engaged Stoffel Vandoorne in a battle lasting several laps; however once clear, the Carlin racer proceeded to swap fastest laps with Coletti – a battle won by the latter on the final tour. “When my team told me that there was one lap to go and that Felipe had the fastest lap, I pushed really hard on that final lap and got it,” said Coletti.

Vandoorne may consider this a lost win, but he may also take comfort from securing a podium having started on the fourth row. Following a brilliant start, the Belgian made easy work of initial frontrunners Nathanaël Berthon and Marco Sørensen, before slipping into the lead past a struggling Mitch Evans.
The McLaren junior held the lead until his pitstop for slicks on lap thirteen, but by that stage Coletti had closed in enough to demote Vandoorne to 2nd. Thereafter, the ART Grand Prix machine struggled under the cool conditions as his Pirelli’s refused to grip, allowing Nasr to first close in and then take the runner-up place on lap eighteen.

It looked for a time that Sørensen might pull a surprise result from the bag after having taken Berthon and Evans; however even he proved sluggish in the mid-race conditions compared to the eventual podium men.
The Dane still managed a solid 4th ahead of Jon Lancaster (who started 23rd!) in the Force India backed Hilmer machine. Lancaster kept feisty series leader Jolyon Palmer behind him as the race closed. Palmer won a hard-fought ten-lap battle against the non-stopping Alexander Rossi with three tours remaining, but the Englishman ran out of time. Rossi settled into 7th, just over four seconds up from the final points scorer Adrian Quaife-Hobbs.

There was an early four-lap safety car period to remove the stricken and ablaze Stéphane Richelmi from the exit of turn one, while the race was neutralised once again on lap fourteen to take Arthur Pic’s broken Campos machine from the exit of turn two.

All this means Jolyon Palmer leaves Hockenheim with a 41-point lead over Felipe Nasr, as the Englishman once again extends his advantage by a narrow margin. Nasr really must charge if he is to seriously challenge for the title. Only a week to wait…

Coletti took the 201st in dramatic style. © Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.

Coletti took the 201st in dramatic style. © Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.

200 races and a cake to celebrate. © Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.

200 races and a cake to celebrate. © Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.

“Seat Fillers”

Sunday morning at Hockenheim. © Leigh O’Gorman

Sunday morning at Hockenheim. © Leigh O’Gorman

One of the major talking points of last weekend’s German Grand Prix at Hockenheim was the lack of a crowd over the course of the weekend.

The Grand Prix itself reportedly had a crowd in the region of 55,000-60,000 {note 1}, while just under 50,000 attended qualifying Saturday.

The lack of attendees for the Friday sessions were just appalling, with occasional people surrounded by swaths of plastic seats. This is Formula One. It should be doing far better than pulling DTM numbers at a time when Mercedes lead the Constructor’s table.

Whether one buys into the ‘Nico Rosberg is German or not’ argument, the fact is, he flies a German flag on his racing licence, while the sport has seen Sebastian Vettel string out four consecutive titles.
Yet there is little no interest in Rosberg or Vettel. While talented racers, they rarely appear to stir the soul.

The price is, of course, another issue – and not just the actual numerical value, but rather the perceived return that fans get with regards to on site entertainment.

Hockenheim can also not do like Monza or the Circuit de Catalunya; both of which can afford to run fewer elements of circuit entertainment as they play off the proximity to Milan and Barcelona respectively.

As a sport, we really must forget this old idea that on track action is going to be enough to encourage someone to fork out huge sums for tickets, travelling and accommodation.
In terms of weekend structure, F1 needs to be more like Glastonbury, with all the amenities that match. These are large events; not speedweek for anoraks. The lack of entertainment or facilities on site beyond (or even during) the track action was telling.

Some races’ success are partially down to location, a more welcoming price, better access to amenities, while also having lots of non-racing action at the circuit.
But that costs money and that’s a problem.

As a whole, it is an indicator that Formula One can do more. Reasonably priced tickets would be a start, but that would start with lower sanctioning fees. Over to you, Bernie.

{note 1}
*Disclaimer: This photo was taking on Sunday morning, but is designed to be representative of some of the gaps in the Hockenheimring over the course of the weekend.

“GP3 Series Analysis: No mere game for Mardenborough”

Mardenborough won in Germany. © Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.

Mardenborough won in Germany. © Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.

If the heavy heat still bore down on the Hockenheim paddock, then at least delight and relief cleared the air.

For Jann Mardenborough, this was all about the latter. His performances during this year’s Toyota Racing Series showed that he had the capacity to win, but taking that to a higher level like GP3 was always going to be tricky.

Emerging victorious from the Nissan GT Academy in 2011, Mardenborough has spent the last three seasons years carving out a strong reputation in motor racing.
Whether that is the British GT Series, European Formula 3, Blancpain Endurance Series or GP3, there is little doubt that Mardenborough’s confidence is growing.

Of course, there are still weaknesses and he knows it. Mardenborough needs to work on his qualifying pace. Although the Briton secured the 5th best time in Silverstone, the Arden racer has typically qualified well outside the top ten and for all his quick race pace, his overall placement is diminished when he starts so far down the order.

But surely that is the whole of these junior categories? While results are clearly important, the opportunity to learn must be paramount and the 22-year-old is doing just that. “It’s just getting everything right in Free Practice,” said Mardenborough following the second race at Hockenheim.
His answer denotes a good sign. Finding the answer to a problem is as much about understanding and asking the right questions than anything else. He continued, “We have got a new plan for practice and qualifying, once we get a good practice done, you go into qualifying feeling confident with the car. That’s what is missing at the moment and hopefully we can sort that out for next week.”

The turnover time is short and Arden have much to do; however there is little doubt that they can guide Mardenborough. After delivering GP3 drivers’ titles with Mitch Evans and Daniil Kvyat, the team run by Christian and Garry Horner can do the job, but it is up to Mardenborough to pick up the baton and run with.
From here, it looks as if his pace is only just picking up.

Race One
“It means something really special to me to win here at my home GP.” No one can deny there is something special about taking victory on home soil in an international series. For GP3 Series rookie Marvin Kirchhöfer, that became a reality on Saturday when he scored his first series win mere hours after securing his maiden pole position.

“I knew it was just the first part of the job and to finish it, I had to make a good start and stay strong and focused,” said the reigning German F3 champion. Kirchhöfer also scored the fastest lap of the eighteen-lap race, with the bonus points propelling the 20-year-old into 3rd in the championship stakes.
Behind the victor, series leader Alex Lynn took a reasonably comfortable 2nd position ahead of the new podium regular Emil Bernstorff, although Lynn still noted that, “[Saturday] was the most difficult race we’ve had all season.”

Although Lynn maintained close proximity throughout, Kirchhöfer rarely appeared threatened under the tough Hockenheim heat, with the winner pointing towards a new direction during the Friday early-evening practice session.
However practice is one aspect; the race itself – held at a similar time on Saturday – was going to be a much tougher prospect. “In the beginning it was quite difficult,” Kirchhöfer said.
With a clean start, the ART Grand Prix racer held the lead at just over one second for the opening two-thirds of the race, before extending the gap to almost four seconds during the final six tours. “The first two laps were clear and it was a normal pace, but then we had yellow flags. When it was green I could show my real pace…” There was no denying Kirchhöfer’s pace. In the final few laps, the German showed Lynn a clean pair of heels.

Despite a track temperature that hovered around the 50°C, the tyres largely held intact, promoting something of static race in the higher order. With the frontrunners generally holding a set pace, few overtaking opportunities were presented.
“Our pace was quite good,” commented Kirchhöfer, adding “For sure we didn’t have the same car as we did in the beginning but I was quite happy with the evolution of the tyres.” Such confidence from a driver allowed to race in a tyre that can do the distance can be a humbling thought for one’s competition.

Lynn, meanwhile, operated in a sort of limbo. “The tyres were going off – as we expected them to do – so I was struggling quite a lot.” Hamstrung by an ill feeling car, as his Pirelli’s fell away following his early challenge on the leader, the Carlin man was getting wayward with grip. Following his exploits, Lynn said, “It was probably the hardest race of the year.
“If we’re struggling and we’re finishing second, then that’s all we can do…”

There was still some luck though, as Lynn’s teammate Bernstorff was in a similar predicament; however he is keenly aware of where he lost the race for the runner-up spot. “I took too much out of the tyres at the beginning but towards the end I think everyone was struggling a bit.” Bernstorff held on to the leading pair admirably, with the Carlin man finishing just 4.4s down on the eventual victor.
It was a good start by Bernstorff and despite the short chute down into turn one, the Briton was able to use his momentum to good effect. “The drivers [stacked] up on the inside and I just managed to get around the outside of Nick [Yelloly] going into Turn 2. I got the inside for the next corner and that pretty much got me my podium.”

Behind the front three, Nick Yelloly finished 4th, but the Status Grand Prix man could not keep with the tougher pace. The race was less profitable for Dino Zamparelli, whose pace collapsed in the final two laps, leading to Dean Stoneman to slip by into 5th before the flag.
Title challenger Jimmy Eriksson drove a solid race to 7th, gaining three places during the eighteen laps, including two off the line. The Swede had the next position handed to him by an errant Mathéo Tuscher, who momentarily fell off the circuit on the twelfth tour.

Tusher’s made a second error on the following lap, allowing Nissan GT Academy winner Jann Mardenborough in the frame. By this point, the charging Mardenborough had already made moves on Luis Sá Silva (lap 7), Mitch Gilbert (lap 8), Robert Visoiu (lap 13) and Richie Stanaway (lap 15), before taking Riccardo Agostini two laps from the end. Mardenborough’s late burst also gives him reverse grid pole for the Sunday morning Race Two. Agostini hung on to claim 9th, while Visoiu passed Stanaway three laps from the end to make sure of the last points paying position.

The race was not without other action. Alfonso Celis Jr and Ryan Cullen clashed on the 2nd lap at the hairpin – Celis Jr received a three-place grid penalty as a result. Also Sebastian Balthasar made silly contact with Nelson Mason, also in the hairpin, three laps from the end.

Race Two
Sweat? Barely a bead. Of course, that is not strictly true, but considering the events of the previous thirty minutes it may as well have been. “It was a controlled race,” said Mardenborough, his overalls now tucked away and his helmet stored safely.

Sunday morning at the Hockenheimring and the Nissan GT Academy winner had just taken his first GP3 Series victory – and it was controlled race, as he drove a cool and calm race to lead every lap ahead of Zamparelli and Eriksson. This was also the first victory of the season for Mardenborough’s Arden International squad.

There will be those who dismiss these Sunday results from time-to-time, noting their reverse grid status and calling cheap their result. Those critics may have a point – to a degree – but come lights out, these cars still need to driven and the races won, irrespective of the sporting regulations.
Sometimes the motivations behind race wins extend beyond the parametres of the race lead in, as Mardenborough contests, “Our weekend didn’t start off on the right foot and Race 1 was damage limitation. To get the reverse grid pole for Race 2 was great and […] to win my first international single-seater race is great for me and fantastic for Nissan, GT Academy and Gamers around the world.”

Come the final morning of the weekend, droplets of rain had fallen, but nowhere near enough to effect the racing too drastically; however the air had cooled significantly since Saturday, offering the field the opportunity to race that little bit harder.
Of the race, Mardenborough looked imperious as he launched off the line, seemingly untroubled by the (also) quick starting Zamparelli; the latter of whom having passed Eriksson into turn one. “The team worked really hard on the start procedure,” the poleman said describing his getaway. He continued, “I had a really good start and the first corner was fine. From then on I could push when I wanted and conserve my rears when I wanted. I felt completely in control and it was a really nice feeling to have.”
For a time, Zamparelli held the gap to Mardenborough at approximately one second; however as the second half of the race aged, the leading man pulled a gap of 3.8s. It was enough – for the Darlington man, this race was in the bag. However for the team, the win was an important one. “I think it means a huge motivation to the team… The first win for them puts us in really good shape for the Hungaroring, I hope we can continue on the form.”

Indeed the presence of Eriksson in a close 3rd place probably aided Mardenborough’s run to the flag. Conscious of the lingering Koiranen GP racer, Zamparelli found potential attempts to attack thwarted by the proximity of Eriksson. “I had to be wary of attacking and defending,” commented Zamparelli. “I put [Mardenborough] under a bit of pressure early on, but the yellow flags were out for two laps [turn six, lap 2-3] when I was right in his tow which killed my charge.”

With the laps ticking down, Eriksson also fell away from the leading pair, as he sought to protect a rearguard action by championship leader Alex Lynn. The Red Bull junior made a great start to jump into 4th from 7th on the grid; however once under the wing of Eriksson, there was little the Essex man could do.

In the end, it mattered little. Unlike Zamparelli, Eriksson was deemed to have not slowed down enough for the early yellow flag zone, something upon which the stewards took a dim view as they slammed the Swede with a 20s post-race penalty.
Eriksson was not impressed by the decision. “In my opinion, the penalty handed out to me […] was extremely severe, and I do not agree with the view of the stewards. I respected the yellow flags by braking much earlier than normal, I backed off significantly as indicated by the sector time, and nothing actually happened – I think the penalty is out of proportion.” The stewards were unmoved by Eriksson’s protestations and the Koiranen GP racer was demoted to 15th overall.

Dean Stoneman was classified 4th, but certainly made life difficult for himself. A poor start from the second row dropped the Briton down 6th, with Emil Bernstorff demoting Stoneman one place further on the second lap.
Stoneman gained that position back on lap seven, when the overly aggressive Marvin Kirchhöfer made an unrealistic attempt at an overtake on Bernstorff at the hairpin, which removed both competitors from the action. Kirchhöfer was also on the receiving end of a penalty, with the Race One winner handed a five-place grid penalty for the first race in Hungary.
It allowed Stoneman to assume a top-five position, which would eventually become 4th following Eriksson’s penalty.

Nick Yelloly brought his Status Grand Prix machine home in 5th place. Starting 5th, the Englishman held the place until five laps from the end when, under pressure from Stoneman, Yelloly dropped behind the Marussia Manor pilot. Yelloly shadowed Stoneman to the end, but the challenge proved too great, although he too would move up a place in the classification.

Patric Niederhauser scored four more useful points for Arden International in what was a quiet, but solid race. The Swiss driver moved from 12th on the grid to 9th on the opening tour and collected two more positions when Kirchhöfer, Bernstorff and Eriksson were removed from the action.
Richie Stanaway finished 7th in the Status Grand Prix machine. Like Niederhauser, Stanaway gained several spots on the opening lap, before taking Robert Visoiu on the 2nd tour. The Kiwi also gained three positions form the Kirchhöfer and Eriksson mistakes, but had to work hard to keep the aggressive Riccardo Agostini behind him on the final lap. In the end, Stanaway pipped his Italian rival by three-tenths, but Agostini was close – very close – but collected a point regardless.

The events of Hockenheim have helped Lynn extend his points lead further over Eriksson, but with the gap at 30 points, the championship is still relatively tight. Kirchhöfer’s Saturday victory may have brought into the battle, but accidents like the one on Sunday could also keep him out of it.

Kirchhöfer won the Saturday opener. © Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.

Kirchhöfer won the Saturday opener. © Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.

Eriksson's and Mardenborough's machines in Parc Ferme. ©  Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.

Eriksson’s and Mardenborough’s machines in Parc Ferme. © Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.

“The Morning After”

It is not the warmest of mornings in Frankfurt. Even though the sun has yet to ascend in a way that is meaningful, one can already notice a thick, dull nothing on the horizon.

Come 6am and misty strips of light precipitation are beginning to fall too. It’s bloody grim actually and rather reads like a stereotypical image of London – typical as that is where I am going.

There was rain in the end at Hockenheim yesterday, albeit in the fifteen minutes after the Grand Prix and not of the heavy kind – not that it mattered to Nico Rosberg.
After the race, the German played a laid back figure, as he calmly faced the national media in the Mercedes motorhome; his hands resting firmly behind his head. In the press conference, Rosberg made light of there being a “little celebration that evening” – that is not to say we do not have the same definition of “little”.

Irrespective of whether people consider the German Grand Prix to be his home race or not, in the grand scheme of things it matters little. Today, Rosberg may be nursing a hangover, but his focus – if he can focus – will be on the 14 point lead he now holds over teammate Lewis Hamilton.
The Briton did drive a fierce race to finish 3rd, despite starting down in 20th position, but he will understandably be conflicted. The race became a damage limitation exercise, but had he not suffered a brake failure on Saturday, he knows he could have won.

If’s and but’s – it’s all if’s and but’s and realistically, they mean nothing the morning after.

“Auto GP: Sato and Roda claim Austrian success”

Sato won in Austria. © Auto GP Organisation.

Sato won in Austria. © Auto GP Organisation.

Kimiya Sato lost a small portion of his Auto GP points lead to Tamás P’âl Kiss at the Red Bull Ring, despite taking victory in Race One.

From pole, the Japanese driver dropped to 3rd behind P’âl Kiss and Kevin Giovesi by the opening corner. Sato pitted after just four laps in the hope of jumping his rivals and while he dispatch Giovesi, Sato had to take P’âl Kiss on track, before building a 3.92s lead margin. From there, P’âl Kiss held a solid 2nd ahead of Andrea Roda, who took FMS racer Giovesi late on in the pits.

Roda turned that 3rd place into a win in Race Two. Starting in the mid-pack, the Virtuosi UK driver made several places in the early running, before sweeping into the lead during the pitstops. P’âl Kiss took another 2nd place, while Michela Cerruti took another podium, despite starting from the back. Both Sato and Giovesi retired due to suspension damage.

This was a paltry entry list for the Austrian trip. At eleven drivers, it was the lowest count for an Auto GP event since the Auto GP Organisation took over the running of the Euroseries 3000 category at the end of 2009.


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