Bets on Rigon’s replacement at Coloni?

Paolo Coloni ran into some serious bad luck when Julián Leal rammed Davide Rigon’s car in Istambul, throwing the car against the barrier and breaking the Italian’s leg.

Not only must the team cover (at least) the insurance excess on the destroyed car and chassis, but he must find a suitable replacement for a talented and Ferrari-linked driver who will be away most of the season.

Now, will Coloni have the ability to find a race-by-race paying driver or will he have to put in a non-paying driver to show up on the grid.  Many drivers could fit either of these descriptions, and some have even raced with the team in the past.

Who will it be?  Vote on the poll on the right or add your guess!

Driver rankings – Turkey GP

Very interesting and quite eventful race weekend at the Istambul Park circuit.  First of all, very sorry to hear about the extent of the injuries to Davide Rigon, after a senseless and utterly maniacal move from Julian Leal… who even had the gall to play innocent when interviewed after the fact.   GP2 will lose a magnificent driver, struggling with a seriously under-budgeted seat at Coloni, and it will probably be well into the summer until we see Davide back in the car.    Adding to the list is Mikhail Aleshin, who after having budget issues now sees himself out of the car, though we may still see him at Barcelona in 2 weeks.

Back to the race, the dominance of Grosjean was only matched by the magnificent race pace from Sam Bird and the iSport engineers.  His car was clearly setup to perform in the second half of the race, when others were seriously battling with their tires.  Clear example of this was the unexplainable performance from Dani Clos.  An experienced driver with a veteran team should never be in such a ridiculous situation.  Even worse, team boss Alfonso de Orleans kept criticizing tire wear, forgetting that all other 25 guys on track had exactly the same Pirellis.   The team needs to take a deep and thoughtful look at their car setup, and see where they have erred so much.

Also outstanding was the performance of Stefano Coletti, who already showed form in GP2 Asia and is confirming his speed in the Main Series.  The Monegasque, following a lukewarm World Series by Renault season, is bringing Trident  to a place more aligned with the talent and enthusiasm lived within the team.  The arrival of Nick Wasyliw is no doubt a serious boost to the team managed by Luca Zerbini.

Also to be noted was the strong performance from Barwa Addax.   Knowing well where they want to be, I’m sure team boss Alejandro Agag will not be satisfied, but the team had a solid outing at Istambul.   Van der Garde fared a bit better than Charles Pic, who seems to be struggling significantly with this 2011 car.  He was touted as one of the serious challengers for this season, but starting with the Asia races, Pic has still to put through a strong or convincing drive.

On the flip side, a disastrous weekend for Lotus ART, most notably for Jules Bianchi given his top-3 favorite status. Bianchi’s car looked ragged all weekend, struggling with tires much like Dani Clos in his RE car.    Once again, Bianchi and the 2011 chassis still have to find themselves so the Ferrari tester can be competitive at race distance.  Also a bad weekend for Marcus Ericsson, coming dangerously close to taking Sam Bird out in Sunday’s race during a safety car restart.

Finally, I wanted to highlight the performance from Fairuz Fauzy, who we all thought was Filippi in that top-10 Super Nova, and from Filippi himself, who was blindingly fast but very unlucky all weekend.

No suprises…yet

Romain Grosjean partially followed the expected script by taking pole position in yesterday’s qualifying session, which was hectic and led to very unsafe racing as track time was significantly hindered by the morning’s useless free practice session.

We have yet to understand the hard crashes by Aleshin, ruled out of today’s race due to a hand injury, and Herck.   Though not confirmed, brake failure may be a cause and needs to be looked into as soon as possible, since the new chassis may still have some teething problems.

Less than one-tenth behind Grosjean was Sam Bird, just bettering his 2010 season opener performance when he qualified 2nd behind Bianchi and Perez at Barcelona.  Behind Bird was a fantastic Luca Filippi, making the most of his chance at the fledgling Super Nova team, at a track where he gave this same team a podium finish in 2009.  The rest of the top 15 were within half a second of Luca, who was closely followed by Bianchi, Clos, Razia, Pic, Vietoris, Kral and a suprising Max Chilton. Read more of this post

Will 2011 be a competitive season?

Though recently other commitments have kept me away from writing in the blog, I have been pondering this question as the season was getting closer to D-day.  Tomorrow, we will see the Main Series back on track, with some teams in better shape than others, but with all sharing a strong will to get ahead in this new GP2 Series “cycle”.

This season may have a familiar 2010-ish ring to it, as one of the strongest drivers in the series, Romain Grosjean, is not in what I would consider a top team.   Last season, we saw Pastor Maldonado pull off a championship season with Rapax, a strong but solidly mid-field team in its previous GP2 history.  Now DAMS, a team that has seen many strong drivers cycle through it, most notably Kamui Kobayashi, is in a position to regularly challenge for wins and podiums. Read more of this post

Bumpy start to GP2 season

Though the return of Mikhail Aleshin is no doubt great news for both Carlin and the series, it highlights the great difficulties that teams are having to put a full season together with decent budgets.

Carlin may have, for now, avoided to start the season off on the wrong foot, but I would not be surprised if the Aleshin deal has more problems as the season wears on.    Other teams with outwardly clear issues are Super Nova (of which I wrote extensively last season) and Ocean, whose owners may be finding that running a profitable team together may be much more difficult than initially expected.

Up at the top, no problems for the series star teams, with full or nearly-full budgets as usual.

“New” GP2 team for 2011 season

According to the press release from the announcement today by Team Lotus’ acquisition of Caterham, they will apply for permission to rebrand Team AirAsia with the legendary sportscar brand.

Air Asia will remain as the team’s lead sponsor, team boss Tony Fernandes announced today.

The move may be a predecessor for what is to come in F1 circles, as a verdict on the Lotus brand is soon to be announced.

Is GP2 Asia now “the” path to F1?

Watching Davide Valsecchi in FP1 at Malaysia this morning it dawned on me that all GP2 Asia champs are, or have been, in F1!

Grosjean (double champ) was briefly in F1 and is widely expected to return, while Koba and Valsecchi are both there – though in clearly different roles.

Maybe the Asian series has a strong correlation to success after all?  Does Bruno Michel know something that escapes the rest of us?  Hmmmmm…. just something to think about.

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