Photo: Auto GP
Brit becomes the first series champion of the regular 2012 season, after securing title with one weekend to go following a dominant season. That’s despite throwing a victory away in Curitiba…
Adrian Quaife-Hobbs has claimed the Auto GP title after the penultimate weekend of the season in Curitiba in Brazil. The 21-year-old Englishman has dominated the series this year, winning five races from 12 races so far and lying 55 points clear with only 48 available at next month’s finale in Sonoma in the United States.
Quaife-Hobbs shot to fame last year, when he was a leading contender in his second season of GP3. He won in Valencia (after which we profiled him here) before going on to claim pole positions at Silverstone and Monza and finish fifth in the standings in what was an ultra-competitive season.
Even before he won, he’d done enough to impress those at the Virgin Racing F1 team (sister operation to his Marussia Manor GP3 squad) who gave him a straight-line test. At the end of the year he drove their car in anger at the Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi.
A move to GP2 or Formula Renault 3.5 was anticipated, but neither came together and he made a last-minute entry into Auto GP with the renowned Super Nova team. He claimed pole position at the season opener at Monza and won the first race before coming third in the reverse grid second race. He was subsequently confirmed with Super Nova for the full season. In the following five weekends, he claimed pole position in all but one. At the fifth round at Portimao he scored a double victory.
Curitiba was by far the worst weekend of his campaign. In the first race, a bad start dropped him to third from pole, but his chances of winning the title on that day were then ruined by a delayed pitstop caused by a wheel-nut issue. He finished the race in sixth. That put him third on the grid for the second race and this time he got a great start to surge into the lead. He was the last of the frontrunners to make his mandatory stop, meaning he had a 35 second when he headed for the pits on lap 20 of 23. However, he miscalculated the entry and slid off into a tyre wall and instant retirement.
He may have impressed in GP3 but this year where Adrian Quaife-Hobbs really proved himself as a class act. There may be doubts about the quality of the field in Auto GP, but he has certainly shown he can win in a high-powered single-seater.
He’d previously tested in GP2 and FR3.5 and showed great pace, and should already be being considered by teams in those series for 2013. Budget constraints may have been a reason behind him ending up in Auto GP, although he does come from the family behind the Quaife Engineering company who’s logos are seen across motorsport. Therefore one would expect he could afford a campaign in at least FR3.5, and with this year’s experience under his belt he should certainly be competitive and therefore teams should be willing to take him on, reducing the financial burden.
In the meantime we’re only just over half-way through 2012 so, in addition to the Auto GP finale in Sonoma where he’ll hope to make amends for his Curitiba blunder, there’s time for him to appear in another series before the end of the year should the opportunity present itself.