“Gutierrez and Razia grab GP2 spoils from luckless Calado”

© GP2 Media Services.

TV Notes
Esteban Gutierrez and Luiz Razia proved that is just as important as guile during the sixth round of the GP2 Series at Valencia last weekend.

Both bolstered their championships with decisive late wins when fortune fell away from Calado – a victim of ill-timed safety cars and disintegrating tyres.

Whereas Gutierrez will welcome the boost to a slightly bruised confidence, Razia will take delight in reeling in series leader Davide Valsecchi.

Indeed Razia now only trails the Italian by a single point. But it’s not just Valsecchi – his rookie teammate Felipe Nasr has also began struggling in recent rounds, as the yellow machine fall back into the pack.
The alarm bells must surely now be ringing at DAMS.

Feature Race
Gutierrez assumed the Feature Race, when teammate Calado twice had his tyre strategy scuppered by the safety car.

Starting 5th*, the Mexican victor was a distant 3rd when the first stoppage occurred on lap 13. Rapax racer Tom Dillmann took damage to his rear wing on the opening lap – the fragile carbon fibre piece collapsing as the halfway mark approached.
The majority danced around the stricken object, but not all would be so fortunate – Rodolfo Gonzalez (in the midst of an “interesting” weekend**) smashed the remains of the wing to litter. Cue safety car number one.

By this stage, Calado – had a 15 second lead over Racing Engineering’s Fabio Leimer, only for that to be wiped away in an instant. Those who had not pitted already did so before the safety car caught them – except for Calado, now just a couple of car lengths up on Leimer, but with a stop still to do.

The lap 18 restart proved to be calamitous. Struggling with throttle problems, Felipe Nasr (DAMS) twice lost drive, with the latter stall crowding the field as they crossed the bridge.
Unsighted, Jolyon Palmer dived down the inside of Nasr while others negotiated the safer outside line, only for Palmer to spear Fabrizio Crestani (Venezuela Lazarus GP), pitching the Italian into a violent barrel roll.
Safety car number two. Thankfully Crestani climbed out with no injuries.

The next restart came on lap 22 – and this, too, was brief. Having still not pitted, Calado again led away, while Gutierrez clattered Leimer, allowing an opportunistic Razia into 2nd.
Gutierrez would retake Razia further on down the lap in a tough, but clean manner, while the quiet Marcus Ericsson breezed by Leimer and Razia in quick succession.

Something that could not be said for Gonzalez. Attempting a move on Giancarlo Serenelli, the Venezuelan simply punted the right rear of the Italian, punting Serenelli into the barrier and an unattainable position for the circuit cranes. Safety car number three.

Calado’s plan of making a gap before a tyre change was beginning to collapse; the Englishman was finally brought in on lap 24. Luck finally came Calado’s way; the safety car had not picked him up yet, allowing the Lotus racer to glide quickly to the pits – he would emerge in 10th in Valsecchi’s mirrors.

The disappearance of one Lotus gave the other the lead, as Gutierrez stepped up to the front. The Mexican only had three laps to run and he held Ericsson at bay with ease, while Razia and Leimer filled out 3rd and 4th respectively.
It is a solid result for Razia, who crucially jumped four spots to 7th off the line, before crucially skipping over van der Garde in the pits.

Rio Haryanto (Carlin, 5th) crossed the finish line marginally ahead of Nathanael Berthon (Racing Engineering), Max Chilton (Carlin, 7th) and Valsecchi (DAMS, 8th); however the latter was later demoted ten places for overtaking the safety car.
Johnny Cecotto initially took 9th, but he too received a post-race penalty for an unsafe release in the pits, dropping him to 19th. The dual penalties would eventually promote Calado to 8th and pole position for the Sprint Race.

Stefano Coletti, Simon Trummer and van der Garde would all cross the line together with van der Garde losing out on the final points place by a mere two-tenths.

2012 GP2 Round of Europe (Rd 6, Feature Race, 28 laps)
Pos  Driver               Team                    Time/Gap
 1.  Esteban Gutierrez    Lotus               1h00m31.895s
 2.  Marcus Ericsson      iSport                  + 1.615s
 3.  Luiz Razia           Arden                   + 6.064s
 4.  Fabio Leimer         Racing Engineering      + 6.403s
 5.  Rio Haryanto         Carlin                  + 6.928s
 6.  Nathanael Berthon    Racing Engineering      + 7.605s
 7.  Max Chilton          Carlin                  + 8.384s
 8.  James Calado         Lotus                  + 11.099s
 9.  Stefano Coletti      Coloni                 + 15.404s
10.  Simon Trummer        Arden                  + 15.782s
11.  Giedo van der Garde  Caterham               + 15.962s
12.  Julian Leal          Trident                + 16.869s
13.  Fabio Onidi          Coloni                 + 17.715s
14.  Stephane Richelmi    Trident                + 18.338s
15.  Josef Kral           Addax                  + 19.580s
16.  Rodolfo Gonzalez     Caterham               + 22.983s
17.  Daniel de Jong       Rapax                  + 23.456s
18.  Davide Valsecchi     DAMS                   + 10.573s+
19.  Johnny Cecotto       Addax                  + 39.627s
20.  Victor Guerin        Ocean                    + 1 lap
     Giancarlo Serenelli  Lazarus                  21 laps
     Felipe Nasr          DAMS                     18 laps
     Fabrizio Crestani    Lazarus                  17 laps
     Jolyon Palmer        iSport                   17 laps
     Tom Dillmann         Rapax                    11 laps
     Nigel Melker         Ocean                      1 lap

+ 10-place penalty for overtaking the safety car.

Sprint Race
Razia proved himself cleverer still on Sunday. Three laps from the end, the Brazilian lay 6th, several seconds behind the leading group of five – all of whom were covered by two seconds.

Yet Calado – out front and dominating once again – had begun to notice the grip in his Pirelli’s ebb away. Traction was getting difficult and it was becoming more obvious with every turn of the wheel.
Whether it be corner entry or exit, his Lotus slithered awkwardly, but the Englishman held his line and the chasing pack at bay.

Indeed Haryanto had been harassing Calado for the duration, when a quick start prompted the Indonesian to 2nd spot. Chilton was there too, as were the persistent Leimer and van der Garde; the quintet snaked around the 5.4 km circuit for lap after lap – always threatening, always lurking.

Eventually impatience got the better of Haryanto. The more Calado struggled, the more tempting the gap – he could wait no longer and on lap 20, the dive came down the inside of turn 12, but Calado kept turning…
The thud was ominous and the result immediate – his left front suspension now a mangled frame, Haryanto parked his Carlin, while Calado carried on – just. For his troubles, Haryanto earned a ten-place grid penalty for the Silverstone Feature Race.

Only metres behind the Calado / Haryanto clash, Leimer also dived inside Chilton, albeit successfully. With the Carlin absent, Leimer was now 2nd, while Calado remained only a few tenths ahead.
Now the Swiss pilot laid on the pressure. An intention here and an impression there, the Racing Engineering car loomed large in Calado’s green-framed wing mirrors.

Lap 23 – the final one – and Leimer had to go for it in turn 12, but this time the pair ran wide and over the tarmac run-off. Calado cut short and rejoined quickly; Leimer took liberties and rejoined ahead of the pack.
Yet the Swiss pilot was fair. Aware of a potential penalty – and despite only a few corners remaining – Leimer gave the lead back to Calado. Only, Leimer probably slowed a little too much…

Razia, meanwhile, fell to 8th off the line, although that became 6th when Fabio Onidi hit the rear of Berthon, causing the former to pit for a new front wing, while the latter took some turns to recover his confidence.
That really should have been it, but when Calado’s tyres began to cry enough toward the end, the Brazilian was drawn back into the game and when the leading pair clashed, Razia was already lining up van der Garde.
He got him – on lap 22 – and then breezed past Chilton several corners later. With Haryanto gone, Razia was in a podium spot and presumably satisfied with that – until Leimer and Calado ran wide.

As Leimer slowed to let Calado back into the lead, Razia spotted a small gap in between the duo – and with a couple of light flicks, he dived clean through. It was clean, concise and worthy of praise – marvellous stuff.
The Brazilian appeared more shocked than anything on the podium, but delighted nonetheless. Calado – pipped again – sealed 2nd ahead of Leimer, while Chilton assumed a hard earned 4th.

Out of nowhere, Berthon grabbed a very late 5th from a “tyred-out” van der Garde. The Frenchman lost out badly at the start, when his 2nd position on the grid had become 7th once the opening tours had shaken out.
The disappearance of Haryanto and collapse of van der Garde’s pace propelled the Racing Engineering man some way back up the order.
Behind van der Garde, Trummer picked up more points for Arden, while Julian Leal registered a rare point with an 8th place finish.

It was not all clean though. The opening lap was solid until turn two, when a squeezed Marcus Ericsson*** clattered the wall, narrowing the width of the road in the process.
As a result, the unsighted Gutierrez, Coletti, Crestani and Valsecchi all collided with the Swede; only Valsecchi would continue following a pitstop.
After the brief safety car period, the race was green for a few hundred feet, when Palmer somehow ran into the back of Cecotto Jr on the start / finish straight, bringing out another safety car.
The finally went green on lap 5; however that did not stop Gonzalez from punting Stephane Richelmi into the barrier at turn two.

2012 GP2 Round of Europe (Rd 6, Sprint Race, 22 laps)
Pos  Driver               Team                    Time/Gap
 1.  Luiz Razia           Arden                 46m07.255s
 2.  James Calado         Lotus                   + 1.179s
 3.  Fabio Leimer         Racing Engineering      + 1.587s
 4.  Max Chilton          Carlin                  + 2.425s
 5.  Nathanael Berthon    Racing Engineering      + 2.957s
 6.  Giedo van der Garde  Caterham                + 4.969s
 7.  Simon Trummer        Arden                   + 8.415s
 8.  Julian Leal          Trident                 + 9.501s
 9.  Daniel de Jong       Rapax                  + 13.591s
10.  Davide Valsecchi     DAMS                   + 17.564s
11.  Josef Král           Addax                  + 21.005s
12.  Tom Dillmann         Rapax                  + 34.565s
13.  Nigel Melker         Ocean                  + 46.929s
14.  Luiz Nasr            DAMS                   + 50.083s
15.  Rodolfo Gonzalez     Caterham               + 51.366s
16.  Giancarlo Serenelli  Lazarus                + 57.490s
17.  Fabio Onidi          Coloni               + 1m03.342s
18.  Victor Guerin        Ocean                + 1m03.439s
     Rio Haryanto         Carlin                   19 laps
     Stephane Richelmi    Trident                   5 laps
     Jolyon Palmer        iSport                    3 laps
     Johnny Cecotto Jr.   Addax                     3 laps
     Stefano Coletti      Coloni                    0 laps
     Esteban Gutierrez    Lotus                     0 laps
     Marcus Ericsson      iSport                    0 laps
     Fabrizio Crestani    Lazarus                   0 laps
2012 GP2 Series points standings
Drivers’ Championship
Pos Driver Points
 1. Davide Valsecchi     141
 2. Luiz Razia           140
 3. James Calado          95
 4. Max Chilton           93
 5. Giedo van der Garde   89
 6. Esteban Gutierrez     87
 7. Fabio Leimer          65
 8. Marcus Ericsson       52
 9. Nathanael Berthon     41
10. Johnny Cecotto Jr     31

Teams’ Championship
Pos Team Points
 1. Lotus GP             182
 2. DAMS                 169
 3. Arden                144
 4. Carlin               119
 5. Racing Engineering   106

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