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“Meanwhile, at the Weekend: Vettel wins the Bahrain GP; Leimer and Bird take GP2 glory; Sato takes first IndyCar win; Munoz triumphs at Long Beach; Cammish makes it six from six at Donington”
Formula One, Bahrain Grand Prix (Rd 4)
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel extended his lead at the top of the World Championship, thanks to a dominant win in Bahrain. Despite bogging down, the German racer slipped passed Fernando Alonso on the opening tour, before taking Nico Rosberg on the second circulation to assume the lead. From there, he drove a near perfect, untroubled race to claim victory and maximum points.
Lotus would eventually complete the podium with Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean. Raikkonen silently climbed the order thanks to Lotus’ and Raikkonen’s kind tyre treatment, allowing the Finn to run long and maintain a steady pace, rising to 4th and later 2nd as the stops unfolded.
It was a similar story for Grosjean who climbed the order impressively, nabbing the final podium spot from Paul di Resta late on. There was a touch of disappointment and satisfaction from di Resta, who raced his Force India steadily amongst the top runners with ease for the duration. Both Raikkonen and di Resta employed two-stop strategies, while most others opted for either three or four stops.
Behind them Lewis Hamilton won a tense battle with Sergio Perez (6th), Mark Webber (7th) and Fernando Alonso (8th) to claim a top, although Perez will rue a mid-race fight with McLaren teammate Jenson Button, which probably cost the Mexican a position. Alonso’s 8th place came about despite a broken DRS, forcing an additional pitstop, which dropped him to last. Rosberg fell away completely, taking only 9th, while Button assumed a disappointing 10th, after being shown the way by the younger Perez.
Once again, Sakhir promoted lots of very aggressive “defending” with Rosberg and Button seemingly content to swing across the circuit of cut others off to maintain position.
GP2 Series Round of Bahrain (Rd 2)
Fabio Leimer and Sam Bird took the honours at the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain, although Stefano Coletti retains the points lead. Leimer held Coletti for the duration of race one, although it could have been so different had the latter followed through on an aggressive start and taken the lead from the poleman Leimer.
However despite the challenge from behind on the opening tour, Leimer headed Coletti, building a lead of four seconds, before both pitted on lap 11. From there, Leimer kept a safe distance to Coletti as the field around them stopped for fresh rubber, eventually granting Leimer the lead and later, the win.
Alexander Rossi took advantage of slow stops for Bird and Felipe Nasr to take 3rd, although Nasr would climb back through the field to grab 4th, a mere four-tenths shy of Rossi. A stellar opening lap promoted Jolyon Palmer up the field, allowing the Englishman to assume 5th at the flag, ahead of Bird (6th). Adrian Quaife-Hobbs and Tom Dillmann stayed out long on old tyres, however their strategy would leave them lingering in 7th and 8th. The Quaife-Hobbs / Dillmann duo took Simon Trummer (9th) late on, while Johnny Cecotto Jr rounded out the top ten.
Bird took a thrilling Sprint Race win on Sunday morning, finishing just 0.08s ahead of Nasr. The RUSSIAN TIME driver spent much of the race heading off the quick-starting Coletti, only for the Monegasque racer’s tyres to fall off in the final three tours. The contemplative Nasr took advantage, mounting a late charge on Bird with the Englishman just hanging on at the flag, while Coletti dropped into an unchallenged 3rd.
Poleman Dillmann was passed by Bird, Coletti and Nasr in the opening four laps, but had enough in hand to keep 4th. A stellar drive by James Calado saw him grab 5th late on following moves on Palmer, Quaife-Hobbs and Leimer. Palmer followed through to assume 6th, ahead of the Daniel Abt (7th) and the tyre shot Quaife-Hobbs (8th). Leimer fell three places to 9th toward race end.
IZOD IndyCar Series (Rd 3, Long Beach)
Takuma Sato grabbed his maiden IndyCar victory at Long Beach on Sunday, ahead of Graham Rahal and Justin Wilson. The Japanese driver took the lead on lap 30, when he jumped Ganassi’s Dario Franchitti in the pits, holding the front of the pack thereafter.
In what was his first race win since he triumphed at the 2001 Formula 3 Grand Prix of Macau, Sato kept steady in a stop-start race peppered with incidents and full course cautions. Good pace on the hard Firestone Tyres, matched his ability to nurse a lengthy final stint on softs, bringing Sato to the front of the field. A late collision between Oriol Servia and Tony Kanaan ensured the race finished under yellows.
Rahal appeared to be mounting a challenge in the final stages, but was forced to drop back in the later laps as he tyres aged, while Wilson showcased his underestimated skills to climb from the rear of the pack to complete the podium.
A slow first stop and a poor medium sector on hard tyres helped demote poleman Franchitti to 4th. JR Hildebrand enjoyed a confident race to finish 5th ahead of Servia (6th), Marco Andretti (7th), Simon Pagenaud (8th), Simona de Silvestro (9th) and Helio Castroneves (10th). Title candidate Scott Dixon started 26th, but rose to 11th by the end – not bad considering the horror race suffered by Will Power, who started 3rd, but dropped back following a collision with Tristan Vautier in the pits on lap 50.
Points leader James Hinchcliffe retired following a clumsy move on Kanaan only served to spin EJ Viso around, while reigning champion Ryan Hunter-Reay hit the barriers due to an ill-judged move to lap Ana Beatriz.
Full results and points standings.
Firestone Indy Lights (Rd 3, Long Beach)
Carlos Munoz dominated the third round of the Indy Lights Series in a race that saw only five finishers. The Colombian led brilliantly from start-to-finish, while a mixture of tense battles and chaos reigned in his mirrors.
Gabby Chaves avoided the melee to claim an important 2nd, while Sage Karam – who started last – made a late move on Jorge Goncalvez to secure 3rd spot. Matthew Di Leo was the only other finisher, albeit one lap down, after he spun off during an early yellow.
Munoz led from the off ahead of title rival Jack Hawksworth, only for Hawksworth to squeeze Zach Veach hard into the wall on start/finish, before rebounding across the track and taking out Peter Dempsey. The incident promoted Juan Pablo Garcia to 2nd spot; however he spun off harmlessly in turn one on lap 12, only to be collected by his unsighted teammate Mikael Grenier moments later.
Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain (Rd 2, Donington)
A dominant Dan Cammish took yet another three poles, victories and led every single lap at Donington Park to extend his points lead to 55 points over Nico Maranzana. In the Saturday opener, Cammish built a 3.2s gap to runner-up Harrison Scott, although the victor was helped somewhat, as the chasing pack fought amongst themselves for prizes.
With Cammish bolted, Maranzana and Juan Rosso battled hard, although an error dropped Rosso behind Scott on the fifth lap, before Scott swept passed Maranzana for 2nd place. Rosso repassed Maranzana, taking Lassi Halminen with him, with the Finn Halminen assuming 3rd from Rosso two laps from the end. A poor start dropped car racing débutante Sam Brabham to 9th; however the Briton did well to rise to 5th by the end.
Cammish made the best of another battle over 2nd in race two, to win unchallenged by 5.6s; eventually won by Rosso, who pipped Scott two laps from the end. Halminen initially made a good start, but fell behind Rosso and Fred Martin-Dye, although the latter eventually retired on lap five; however Halminen would lose 4th to Maranzana on lap 17. George Blundell drove a credible race to 6th ahead of Brabham, with Blundell having dropped to 11th on the opening tour.
If the first two results were good, Cammish was on a different level in the final event, with the 24-year-old winning by over 12 seconds. The points leader initially sped away from Maranzana; however the Argentine racer’s fuel system failed late on, dropping him to 3rd behind Rosso. Luke Williams took 4th, despite a collision with Halminen on lap four; however the Jamun racer recovered to take Scott at the halfway point. Scott maintained 5th thereafter, with Brabham several seconds behind. Like the opening round, the field was disappointingly thin, with only twelve entrants participating.