Belgian GP – Driver rankings

Chaotic as expected race today at Spa, with Alvaro Parente and Sergio Perez clearly above the rest.  The Mexican made up for yesterday’s troubled race while Parente concluded a dream comeback to GP2, which could have only been bested by a win this morning.    Strong result as well from Van der Garde, who has been mired in the midfield as of late, accompanied by the best ever result by Rodolfo González, very motivated and concentrated for these last races of the season.

At the other end, terrible race again for Jules Bianchi, who may have been just a bit too hasty in his eagerness to return to GP2.  Mechanical failure for championship leader Maldonado during the first lap, allowing Pérez to close up a bit on the huge gap that the Venezuelan will take into the Monza weekend.

Long live the GP2 veterans

Strong showing from GP2 veterans at today’s Spa feature race. Maldonado, Parente, Grosjean and Filippi made a strong case for experience today, placing first, second, third and fifth. D’Ambrosio would have joined them had it not been for a mechanical failure.

Especially notable was Parente’s race, who led the most laps and came within meters of taking an epic comeback win after catching up to an evidently ailing Rapax car of Maldonado. Also solid, the race from both Arden drivers, especially Gonzalez who scored his first GP2 points.

Results:
1 – Pastor Maldonado – Rapax
2 – Alvaro Parente – Coloni
3 – Romain Grosjean – Dams
4 – Charles Pic – Arden
5 – Luca Filippi – Super Nova
6 – Oliver Turvey – iSport
7 – Sergio Perez – Addax
8 – Rodolfo Gonzalez – Arden
9 – Giedo Van der Garde – Addax
10 – Johnny Cecotto – Trident
11 – Christian Vietoris – Racing Engineering
12 – Fabio Leimer – Ocean
13 – Marcus Ericsson – Super Nova
14 – Jules Bianchi .- ART
15 – Adrian Zaugg – Trident
16 – Luiz Razia – Rapax
17 – Max Chilton – Ocean
18 – Davide Valsecchi – iSport

Parente is back strong at Spa

Alvaro Parente’s comeback at Spa has reconfirmed what we all knew:  he is one of the strongest drivers out there today and it is a pity he has not been around this season.  Now, with the “help” of Alberto Valerio’s sponsor issues, he is back strong at Spa, track where he handed Ocean its first win ever.

Surprising result from Crestani, taking Giacomo Ricci’s place at DPR this weekend, with Jules Bianchi slow towards the rear after he was cleared to race by the FIA doctors.

Results from this mornings very wet practice (courtesy of Italiaracing):

1 – Pastor Maldonado – Rapax – 2’16″498
2 – Dani Clos – Racing Engineering – 2’18″368
3 – Alvaro Parente – Coloni – 2’18″651
4 – Michael Herck – DPR – 2’18″816
5 – Romain Grosjean – Dams – 2’19″233
6 – Christian Vietoris – Racing Engineering – 2’19″342
7 – Oliver Turvey – iSport – 2’19″579
8 – Marcus Ericsson – Super Nova – 2’19″603
9 – Fabrizio Crestani – DPR – 2’19″914
10 – Sam Bird – ART – 2’19″968
11 – Sergio Perez – Addax – 2’20″009
12 – Luiz Razia – Rapax – 2’20″079
13 – Luca Filippi – Super Nova – 2’20″301
14 – Vladimir Arabadhziev – Coloni – 2’20″335
15 – Giedo Van der Garde – Addax – 2’20″480
16 – Rodolfo Gonzalez – Arden – 2’21″001
17 – Davide Valsecchi – iSport – 2’21″042
18 – Adrian Zaugg – Trident – 2’21″575
19 – Jules Bianchi – ART – 2’21″981
20 – Fabio Leimer – Ocean – 2’22″769
21 – Jerome D’Ambrosio – Dams – 2’24″843
22 – Max Chilton – Ocean – 2’25″442
23 – Charles Pic – Arden – 2’28″349
24 – Johnny Cecotto – Trident – no time

Several changes for Spa

This weekend’s Spa race brings  changes to the GP2 lineup.

First, DAMS has brought in Romain Grosjean once again, but this time to sub in for Ho Pin Tung.  I have no information to question Tung’s injury, but the timing is curious nonetheless.

Second, Alberto Valerio very surprisingly notified the Coloni team that he would not be taking part in the Spa race, and as Italiaracing reports, probably the Monza and Abu Dhabi races as well.  The same source says Portuguese star Alvaro Parente will be racing for the Italian team, bringing back to the series one of the best drivers out there without a drive this season.  No doubt, Paolo Coloni is trying to window dress the team for the 2011 season, making his seats more appetizing to potential customers next year.

Finally, in a very Herck-like move, Budapest race winner Giacomo Ricci has been sidelined in favor of compatriot Fabrizio Crestani.   Taking out a fast driver to bring in the irregular, category-jumping Crestani is a terrible move for the team, which many thought was changing for the better.  Though Ricci’s ride has been paid for by the Hercks, my opinion is that the team is not thinking of global results any more.  They must already know that for 2011, DPR’s grid slot is in serious jeopardy.

We still await news on Jules Bianchi, who’s Formula Abarth test at Fiorano apparently went quite well..

Teams comparison 2010 vs 2009

The emergence of a new “top team” this season with the transformation of Rapax into a consistent winner made me think how teams are faring so far this season when compared to 2009.  Below are two charts, from which we can draw interesting conclusions:

No surprise to see Rapax at +69 points when compared to 2009, when they were languishing with Roldán Rodríguez and Alberto Valerio, pushed only by his strong win at Silverstone.  Not surprising either is DPR, with the explosion of its whole team structure and the better results from both Ricci and Herck in 2010.   iSport is also doing better this season, as the Valsecchi-Tuvey combo is working better than the van der Garde-Nunes team, which took a bit of time to get rolling last season.

What is surprising is to find ART as the worst team in comparison at this point in the season.  Hulkenberg’s strong season last year, even when pulling Maldonado’s weight most of the season, is 43 points better than the current results from Bianchi and Bird.  Even though they are both racing well, the results are significantly below what ART must have expected, especially when compared to 2009.  Also at the bottom are Super Nova, team we have already written about which is undergoing its worst season ever in GP2, and DAMS, whose high-flying Renault Junior Team status has failed to materialize in results from either D’Ambrosio or Tung.  We will write an opinion piece on DAMS and Gravity in the coming days leading up to Spa…

Could Soucek be headed for ART?

Spanish media reports today that Virgin reserve driver Andy Soucek is negotiating an early end to his contract with Richard Branson’s team.  Soucek claims that his contract included some Friday outings, and that the team will not honor this clause during what’s left of the 2010 F1 season.

Though Soucek is well-known in GP2 circles to be short of significant budgets, maybe his new-found media attention as a result of his F1 presence has landed him some cash to keep his racing career moving forward.  Soucek is a very keen and smart communicator, and has leveraged his short-lived F1 fame to the max, with a strong PR effort that has even landed him commentator duties during F1 races in Spanish TV’s La Sexta.

Since the article cites possible GP2 drives, this could make sense, as Andy can surely scrap together enough budget for the 3 races left this season, probably hoping to raise his game and potentially land some sort of role in the 2011 F1 season.  Open seats now include mainly the injured Kral (Super Nova), Bianchi (ART) and maybe Tung (DAMS).  Also, the second Arden seat held by Rodolfo Gonzalez is probably up for grabs as well.

Soucek has driven for Super Nova before, but his true “opportunity” would be with ART, albeit for Spa and Monza only.  Though Bianchi is rumored to be attempting a comeback for Spa, both the Belgian track and Monza are both quite dangerous.  Also, piecing together Nicolas Todt’s statement on Pastor Maldonado’s F1 future, it is easy to read in-between the lines that Bianchi still has another GP2 season ahead of him next year.

I hadn’t put Soucek on my list of ART candidates… but just maybe, the seat could already be his.

New poll: Which team will join GP2 in 2011?

With the picture for the 2011-2015 GP2 seasons needing to be cleared up soon, I thought we could begin to wager on which (if any) new GP2 teams could join the party next season.

Durango’s spot will be up for grabs, though rumor has it maybe more slots would open up at the end of 2010.  Who do you think we’ll be seeing in GP2 next season?  Check out the poll on the right side…