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“Cecotto Jr and Palmer make the most of Monaco carnage”

May 31, 2012

© GP2 Media Services.

Johnny Cecotto Jr and Jolyon Palmer continued Monaco’s occasional form for surprise winners, with the pairing taking victories in the principality last weekend.

With the big points going to those normally associated with the midfield, the series’ top players were left to scramble for minor placings – if they finished at all.

Although the carnage at the beginning of the Sprint Race assured nearly every finisher took home some sort of prize.

——
TV Notes
Feature Race (May 25th)
Johnny Cecotto Jr picked up his first GP2 victory last week on the streets of Monaco, despite constant pressure from Marcus Ericsson.

The Venezuelan – whose previously best GP2 finish of 4th also came at Monaco, in 2010 – held the Swede at bay for all 42 laps, crossing the line with an advantage of 0.564 seconds. Caterham’s Giedo van der Garde took 3rd spot.

Cecotto Jr led virtually every lap, only ceding the front during the pitstops, and while the fast-starting Ericsson* pushed the Barwa Addax racer, there was nowhere for the iSport driver to make a move.

The lead rarely extended beyond two seconds – often loitering around the one second mark – something that must have hurt the iSport crew when they lost a couple of seconds in the pits during Ericsson’s 23rd lap stop.
Taking new tyres on the following tour allowed Cecotto back out ahead of Ericsson, whereby the on track chess match recommenced in earnest, although Ericsson had little in the way of potent ammunition.
There followed a sort of stalemate, guaranteeing victory and twenty-five points for Cecotto Jr.

Van der Garde enjoyed a quieter event on his run to 3rd. Like Ericsson, the Dutch pilot jumped Carlin’s Max Chilton off the line and from there proved too quick to be challenged by the chasing pack, while also too slow to challenge the leading pair.

Series leader Davide Valsecchi enjoyed a far more exciting race in his DAMS machine. The Italian began the race in 7th, locking onto a fight with Chilton, Luiz Razia (Arden) and Jolyon Palmer (iSport).
Valsecchi remained in that position until the stops. Staying out until lap 26, the GP2 veteran maintained an efficient pace on his Pirelli’s, as others pitted only to find themselves locked in Monegasque traffic. His pace speedy and consistent, Valsecchi ensured he jumped ahead of his rivals, emerging 4th as the pit work filtered out.

Chilton was the first to lose out, dropping to 5th despite starting on the front row – indeed a poor getaway suffocated the Englishman’s race almost immediately.
Chilton ended the day four seconds clear of Palmer (6th), with Lotus man James Calado a further four seconds adrift in 7th. Despite starting 13th, Lotus brought Calado into play following an early stop, allowing the GP3 graduate to run confidently in clean air.

Trident racer Stephane Richelmi applied a similar strategy to come home 8th after lining up 14th, earning the reverse grid pole position for the Sprint Race.
Richelmi finished several seconds clear of Nathanael Berthon (Racing Engineering) and Stefano Coletti (Coloni), with the latter managing 39 laps on his Pirelli’s before pitting for fresh rubber.

Backmarkers played a big role in the midfield, with both Giancarlo Serenelli and Fabrizio Crestani in particular creating havoc throughout. A nadir was reached when Crestani blocked Esteban Gutierrez (Lotus) at the chicane, causing the Mexican to launch into the barriers, causing his weekend to sink further after a disastrous Friday** – the spread debris proceeded to slice Razia’s tyres apart.

* {note 1}
Qualifying saw the field split into two groups, in order to avoid a repeat of embarrassing scenes from the previous season’s qualifying session.
The order was set by two 15-minute sessions, with even number cars assuming one side of the grid and odd-numbered cars on the other. The fastest group took the left-hand side of the grid and with it the pole slot.
Johnny Cecotto Jr took pole position by heading “Group 2”, just bumping “Group 1” quick man Max Chilton across to the dirty side of the track.

** {note 2}
Cecotto Jr also headed practice, this time ahead of Davide Valsecchi, Fabio Leimer and Giedo van der Garde. There were few incidents, including a major dent for Esteban Gutierrez, who crashed into the St Devote barriers after only four minutes of running. Giancarlo Serenelli, van der Garde and Josef Kral all spun without making contact during the session.

2012 GP2 Round of Monaco (Rd 5, Feature Race, 42 laps)
Pos  Driver               Team                   Time/Gap 
 1.  Johnny Cecotto       Addax                59m42.521s 
 2.  Marcus Ericsson      iSport                 + 0.564s 
 3.  Giedo van der Garde  Caterham               + 5.040s 
 4.  Davide Valsecchi     DAMS                  + 16.347s 
 5.  Max Chilton          Carlin                + 17.378s 
 6.  Jolyon Palmer        iSport                + 21.883s 
 7.  James Calado         Lotus                 + 25.685s 
 8.  Stephane Richelmi    Trident               + 42.275s 
 9.  Nathanael Berthon    Racing Engineering    + 45.319s 
10.  Stefano Coletti      Coloni                + 47.099s 
11.  Tom Dillmann         Rapax                 + 51.285s 
12.  Simon Trummer        Arden               + 1m04.054s 
13.  Rodolfo Gonzalez     Caterham            + 1m21.395s 
14.  Rio Haryanto         Carlin              + 1m23.537s 
15.  Luiz Razia           Arden               + 1m23.639s 
16.  Victor Guerin        Ocean                   + 1 lap 
17.  Felipe Nasr          DAMS                    + 1 lap 
18.  Fabio Leimer         Racing Engineering      + 1 lap 
19.  Fabrizio Crestani    Lazarus                 + 1 lap 
20.  Ricardo Teixeira     Rapax                   + 1 lap 
21.  Julian Leal          Trident                + 2 laps 
22.  Giancarlo Serenelli  Lazarus                + 2 laps  
Retirements: 
     Esteban Gutierrez    Lotus                   37 laps
     Nigel Melker         Ocean                   32 laps 
     Fabio Onidi          Coloni                  26 laps  
     Josef Kral           Addax                    0 laps

Sprint Race (May 26th)
Jolyon Palmer grabbed his first GP2 win following a crash intensive Sprint Race at Monaco. The iSport racer headed Max Chilton (Carlin) by one second, with Caterham’s Giedo van der Garde 3rd a further three seconds adrift.

Realistically, the race wasn’t especially close – and Palmer has James Calado to thank for that. A stellar start allowed the iSport racer to leap Calado and poleman Stephane Richelmi before reaching St Devote; however Calado was less successful with his move on Richelmi.
The Lotus pilot punted Richelmi in the rear, breaking his front wing while also forcing the Swiss racer out.
Despite his wounded car, Calado persisted in 2nd place ahead of Chilton until the stewards called the Englishman in for a change on lap 11, bringing Chilton in to 2nd spot. By then, Palmer and Chilton were already over ten seconds apart.

The gap may have been longer had it not been for a four-lap long safety car period following another smash on the opening lap, this time started by Feature Race victor Johnny Cecotto Jr.
As the field began to filter through Massenet, Cecotto lost the rear end, starting a violent chain reaction that took out not only the Venezuelan, but also seven other cars – most significantly series leader Davide Valsecchi.
A precious and expensive game of pinball developed as cars bounced into each other with enough violence to rip wheels, suspension units and carbon fibre other parts clean away. Most spectacularly was Felipe Nasr, who rammed the unsighted Victor Guerin in the rear, sending him briefly airborne.

All of these developments effectively gave the race to Palmer – although the Englishman still had do some work to take the win. The Englishman kept a measured gap to Chilton to the flag, allowing it to close mere tenths at a time with every tour.
Meanwhile, van der Garde – enjoying another quiet race – also drew toward the front, but did so without raising the alarm of the leading pair.

Behind van der Garde, it was predictably single file running, with iSport’s Marcus Ericsson claiming 4th ahead of the surprisingly quick Rodolfo Gonzalez (Caterham, 5th).
Luiz Razia (Arden) and Esteban Gutierrez (Lotus) spent the race swapping fastest lap times as they shot for the bonus two points – a fight won by Razia. They pair would come home 6th and 8th respectively, split by Nathanael Berthon (Racing Engineering).

Only twelve drivers managed to complete the thirty-lap distance. Arden’s Simon Trummer assumed the first non-points place in 9th, all the while holding Josef Kral (Barwa Addax, 10th), Rio Haryanto (Carlin, 11th) and Nigel Melker (ORT, 12th) at bay.
Calado eventually retired from 13th spot on lap 21 in what would be his first non-finish in any category of racing since April 3rd, 2010***.

*** {note 3}
Incredibly, James Calado‘s last race retirement came at the opening round of the 2010 British Formula 3 Series at Oulton Park. Calado did not actually start race two of the Magny Cours round the following month; however this does not count to his record, as the Briton did not take to the parade lap.
By Monaco, Calado’s run of consecutive finishes had reached fifty-six races.

2012 GP2 Round of Monaco (Rd 5, Sprint Race, 30 laps)
Pos  Driver               Team                  Time/Gap 
 1.  Jolyon Palmer        iSport              45m41.227s 
 2.  Max Chilton          Carlin                + 1.083s 
 3.  Giedo van der Garde  Caterham              + 4.426s 
 4.  Marcus Ericsson      iSport                + 8.133s 
 5.  Rodolfo Gonzalez     Caterham             + 19.968s 
 6.  Luiz Razia           Arden                + 23.273s 
 7.  Nathanael Berthon    Racing Engineering   + 26.376s 
 8.  Esteban Gutierrez    Lotus                + 26.880s 
 9.  Simon Trummer        Arden                + 31.663s 
10.  Josef Kral           Addax                + 35.338s 
11.  Rio Haryanto         Carlin               + 36.546s 
12.  Nigel Melker         Ocean                + 37.164s  
Retirements: 
     James Calado         Lotus                  20 laps 
     Julian Leal          Trident                12 laps 
     Fabio Leimer         Racing Engineering      8 laps 
     Fabrizio Crestani    Lazarus                 8 laps 
     Stephane Richelmi    Trident                 0 laps 
     Davide Valsecchi     DAMS                    0 laps 
     Johnny Cecotto       Addax                   0 laps 
     Stefano Coletti      Coloni                  0 laps 
     Tom Dillmann         Rapax                   0 laps 
     Victor Guerin        Ocean                   0 laps 
     Felipe Nasr          DAMS                    0 laps 
     Ricardo Teixeira     Rapax                   0 laps 
     Giancarlo Serenelli  Lazarus                 0 laps 
     Fabio Onidi          Coloni                  0 laps
2012 GP2 Series Points Standings (Rd 5)
Drivers’ Championship
Pos Driver Points
 1. Davide Valsecchi     141
 2. Luiz Razia           110
 3. Giedo van der Garde   85
 4. Max Chilton           79
 5. James Calado          75
 6. Esteban Gutierrez     60
 7. Fabio Leimer          41
 8. Marcus Ericsson       34 
 9. Johnny Cecotto Jr     31
10. Stefano Coletti       29

Teams’ Championship
Pos Team Driver
 1. DAMS                 169
 2. Lotus                135
 3. Arden                111
 4. Carlin                95
 5. Caterham              91
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