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PaddockScout Roundup: GP2/GP3 Barcelona, European F3 Pau

by Peter Allen

GP2: Cecotto surprises, Nasr finally delivers

Palmer, Cecotto, Nasr

Photo: Malcolm Griffiths/GP2 Series Media Service

Felipe Nasr finally broke his GP2 duck in Barcelona with a maiden victory in the sprint race – his 50th start in the category. After finishing third in race one, the Formula BMW and British F3 champion began the race from sixth on the grid but charged into the lead within two laps and stayed there until the end. On a weekend that began with Nasr driving for Williams in F1 Friday practice, the strong points haul moves the pre-season favourite up into third in the standings after a quiet opener in Bahrain five weeks ago.

Johnny Cecotto ended his own 33-race win drought with a storming drive from 16th to first in the feature race. The Trident driver used rapid pace out front on the harder tyre to rejoin from a late pitstop between Jolyon Palmer and Nasr before quickly passing Palmer for the lead. In a weekend where the often-controversial Cecotto showed good patience and kept his nose clean, he finished sixth in race two to move up to fourth in the standings heading to Monaco, where he won in 2012.

Although Palmer was twice denied victory, a pair of second-places means that the British driver has finished all four races so far this season on the podium and moves him into a 22-point lead in the standings over fellow series veteran Julian Leal, who maintained his consistent start to the campaign with a fourth and a fifth.

Once again, many of the championship’s highest-rated but less-experienced drivers suffered tough weekends. A stall on an aborted start led to Bahrain debut winner Stoffel Vandoorne not scoring points, while first-lap contact ruined Raffaele Marciello and Daniel Abt‘s weekends and mean they remain on zero points, as does Alexander Rossi who suffered transmission failure in the feature race. Mitch Evans nosed into the lead at the start of the feature race but made contact with Stefano Coletti at turn one, before surging up to sixth at the start of the sprint race only for tyre wear to drop him down the order.

GP2 Series Round 2/11 ? Barcelona, Spain
Race 1
Report: Cecotto wins strategic Barcelona feature race
1st: Johnny Cecotto 2nd: Jolyon Palmer 3rd: Felipe Nasr
Race 2
Report: Nasr breaks GP2 duck in Barcelona sprint race
1st: Felipe Nasr 2nd: Jolyon Palmer 3rd: Tom Dillmann
Championship standings
1 Jolyon Palmer 70 pts
2 Julian Leal 48 pts
3 Felipe Nasr 42 pts
4 Johnny Cecotto 29 pts
5 Arthur Pic 26 pts
6 Stoffel Vandoorne 25 pts
Next round: Monte Carlo (24-25 May)

GP3: Lynn and Stoneman take opening wins

Alex Lynn

Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service

Alex Lynn backed up his pre-season form with victory from pole position in the first race of the GP3 season in Barcelona. The new Red Bull Junior maintained his momentum from triumphing in his last race of 2013, the Macau Grand Prix. Race two however was not so good, losing ground in the damp on lap one and then taking a gamble on changing to wets under a safety car that failed to pay off and left him 18th. Nonetheless, his win and six bonus points for pole and fastest lap put him eight points clear.

Richie Stanaway made a successful return to single-seaters after nearly two years away, with a third and a fourth putting him second to Lynn in the standings. It was a good weekend for German F3 champions, with Jimmy Eriksson putting his tough 2013 behind him to finish second in race one and then sixth, while Marvin Kirchhofer began brightly with a pair of fifths – having taken the fight to Lynn into turn one in race one but run wide and dropped back.

Dean Stoneman followed up his impressive single-seater comeback in Abu Dhabi last November by claiming victory in race two by holding off two other ex-Formula Two racers. Still only 17, Matheo Tuscher reminded the world of his talents after sitting out most of 2013 by finishing second after only two days of testing, while Dino Zamparelli claimed his maiden GP3 podium in third.

GP3 Series Round 1/9 ? Barcelona, Spain
Race 1
Report: Lynn cruises to win on his GP3 debut in Barcelona
1st: Alex Lynn 2nd: Jimmy Eriksson 3rd: Richie Stanaway
Race 2
Report: Stoneman sees off Tuscher to win damp race two
1st: Dean Stoneman 2nd: Matheo Tuscher 3rd: Dino Zamparelli
Championship standings
1 Alex Lynn 31 pts
2 Richie Stanaway 23 pts
3 Jimmy Eriksson 22 pts
4 Dean Stoneman 21 pts
5 Dino Zamparelli 18 pts
6 Matheo Tuscher 16 pts
Next round: Spielberg (21-22 June)

FIA F3 European Championship: Ocon, Blomqvist and Rosenqvist share wins

Felix Rosenqvist

Photo: FIA F3 European Championship

Esteban Ocon extended his lead in the FIA F3 European Championship with a strong weekend on home soil in Pau. After winning race one, the Lotus F1 junior looked poised for a treble by taking two more pole positions. However, damage in race two and a poor start in race three would force him to settle for two second places. With one win from each of the first three rounds, the rookie now holds a 57-point lead as his rivals all struggle for consistency.

After the third and last of his ten-place grid penalties for a Hockenheim engine change restricted him to 11th in race one, Tom Blomqvist claimed victory in race two after capitalising on Ocon’s damaged car and a late safety car to pinch the lead on the penultimate lap. He then finished third in race three to move up into P2 in the standings.

A misfire in first qualifying put Felix Rosenqvist on the back foot but after fighting his way from 22nd to 14th in race one, the F3 veteran recovered from a poor start to the season by grabbing front row slots for the remaining two races. In race one he was pressuring Ocon when the pair made contact, putting Rosenqvist in the wall. He put things right in race three though by jumping Ocon off the start and keeping the lead until the finish. That only puts him ninth in the points, however.

His Mucke team-mate Lucas Auer had an opposite weekend, starting and finishing race one in second before a bad second qualifying restricted him to seventh and sixth in the later races. Max Verstappen finished third in race one and was running in the same place in race two when he crashed out. The same would happen in race three, but only after taking a hit from a defensive Ocon at the start. Antonio Fuoco had a nightmare weekend, scoring no points after a practice crash put him on the back foot, while Jake Dennis had his best weekend yet, capitalising on experience gained in the Pau Formula Renault event last year to take two fourths and a maiden podium in race two.

FIA F3 European Championship Round 3/11 ? Pau, France
Race 1
Report: Ocon triumphs in first Pau race to extend points lead
1st: Esteban Ocon 2nd: Lucas Auer 3rd: Max Verstappen
Race 2
Report: Blomqvist passes Ocon to win dramatic race two in Pau
1st: Tom Blomqvist 2nd: Esteban Ocon 3rd: Jake Dennis
Race 3
Report: Rosenqvist beats Ocon to claim Pau Grand Prix win
1st: Felix Rosenqvist 2nd: Esteban Ocon 3rd: Tom Blomqvist
Championship standings
1 Esteban Ocon 164 pts
2 Tom Blomqvist 107 pts
3 Lucas Auer 95 pts
4 Max Verstappen 68 pts
5 Antonio Fuoco 67 pts
6 Antonio Giovinazzi 61 pts
Next round: Hungaroring (31 May-1 June)

Formula Renault 2.0 Alps: De Vries continues unbeaten

Nyck de Vries

Photo: Fast Lane Promotion

Nyck de Vries continued to dominate the Formula Renault Alps field by recovering from a practice crash to win both races at Pau. Having won all four races this season so far, the McLaren protege sits on 100 points, with his nearest rival only on 55.

That man is Simon Gachet, who finished third in race one but was only eighth in race two after errors in the difficult wet conditions, where only nine of the 24 starters finished on the lead lap. After being unable to contest the Imola opener because he hadn’t yet turned 16, Matevos Isaakyan finished second in race one but was one of the drivers to crash out of race two.

Highly-rated karting graduates George Russell, Ben Barnicoat and Charles Leclerc had a scrap over fourth in the first race with Russell keeping the place despite suffering from front wing damage. A clutch problem meant Russell managed just one lap in race two, while Barnicoat also retired. Monaco resident Leclerc on the other hand kept his car on the road to finish second, albeit 22 seconds behind de Vries. Hugo de Sadeleer also stayed out of trouble to finish third after starting 11th.

Formula Renault 2.0 Alps Round 2/7 ? Pau, France
Race 1
Report: De Vries remains unbeaten in Alps with Pau race 1 win
1st: Nyck de Vries 2nd: Matevos Isaakyan 3rd: Simon Gachet
Race 2
Report: De Vries takes fourth consecutive win in Pau race two
1st: Nyck de Vries 2nd: Charles Leclerc 3rd: Hugo de Sadeleer
Championship standings
1 Nyck de Vries 100 pts
2 Simon Gachet 55 pts
3 George Russell 37 pts
4 Charles Leclerc 26 pts
5 Andrew Tang 24 pts
6 Seb Morris 23 pts
Next round: Spielberg (24-25 May)

French F4: Boccolacci claims two wins and points lead

Dorian Boccolacci

Photo: Autosport Academy

Dorian Boccolacci gave the Lotus F1 junior programme more to shout about in Pau with two wins of his own in French F4. The Frenchman claimed pole position for the weekend’s two main races and survived red flags to win both and move into the championship lead. He was ninth in the reverse-grid race two.

Lasse Sorensen and Felix Hirsiger finished second and third in both races to significantly add to their points tallies. Hirsiger has moved into second, while Sorensen is now third ahead of erstwhile leader Joseph Mawson. After his double win at Le Mans, the Australian had a nightmare in Pau. It began with a crash early in practice, and then triggering a collision at the start of race one that saw him excluded from a fifth-place finish. He was only 17th in race two, and retired due to another incident in race three.

Russian Denis Bulatov claimed victory in the reverse-grid race two ahead of Simo Laaksonen and Valentin Moineault.

French F4 Championship Round 2/7 ? Pau, France
Race 1
Report: Boccolacci wins interrupted first French F4 race in Pau
1st: Dorian Boccolaccci 2nd: Lasse Sorensen 3rd: Felix Hirsiger
Race 2
Report: Bulatov storms to victory in second French F4 Pau race
1st: Denis Bulatov 2nd: Simo Laaksonen 3rd: Valentin Moineault
Race 3
Report: Boccolacci wins final Pau race in French F4
1st: Dorian Boccolaccci 2nd: Lasse Sorensen 3rd: Felix Hirsiger
Championship standings
1 Dorian Boccolaccci 92 pts
2 Felix Hirsiger 79 pts
3 Lasse Sorensen 77 pts
4 Joseph Mawson 67 pts
5 Amaury Richard 50 pts
6 Denis Bulatov 39 pts
Next round: Val de Vienne (5-6 July)

ADAC Formel Masters: Another win each for Jensen and Gunther


Photo: ADAC

Just as at round one at Oschersleben, ADAC Formel Masters rivals Mikkel Jensen and Maximilian Gunther claimed a race win each at a wet and wild Zandvoort. Gunther came out on top in qualifying to claim pole for the first two races, but a poor start in race one led to him getting hit and triggering a pile-up. He came back to win race two, but was only tenth in race three after two more collisions.

Jensen made a good start in race one to escape to victory and followed that up with two fourth-places in the other races. The strong points haul puts him 21 points clear of Gunther at the head of the standings.

Rookie Tim Zimmermann continued his strong start to the season, finishing second in races one and three and sixth in race two, meaning he’s just five points behind Gunther. Ex-Formula BMW Talent Cup champion Marvin Dienst claimed his first win of the season in race three, after two fifths in the earlier races. Kim-Luis Schramm finisihed third in races one and three, while?Fabian Schiller and Ralph Boschung joined Gunther on the podium in race two.

ADAC Formel Masters Round 2/8 ? Zandvoort, Netherlands
Race 1
Report: Jensen takes bizarre victory in race one at Zandvoort
1st: Mikkel Jensen 2nd: Tim Zimmermann 3rd: Kim-Luis Schramm
Race 2
Report: Gunther takes lights-to-flag win in second Zandvoort race
1st: Maximilian Gunther 2nd: Fabian Schiller 3rd: Ralph Boschung
Race 3
Report: Dienst sees off Zimmermann to become fourth winner of 2014
1st: Marvin Dienst 2nd: Tim Zimmermann 3rd: Kim-Luis Schramm
Championship standings
1 Mikkel Jensen 93 pts
2 Maximilian Gunther 72 pts
3 Tim Zimmermann 67 pts
4 Marvin Dienst 54 pts
5 Kim-Luis Schramm 48 pts
6 Fabian Schiller 47 pts
Next round: Lausitz (24-25 May)

Formula Masters China: Munro wins twice on debut

James Munro

Photo: Formula Masters China

James Munro followed up his impressive run in the Toyota Racing Series with a pair of wins on his debut in the Formula Masters China opener at Zhuhai. In race one the New Zealander moved into the lead at the start from second on the grid and stayed out front until the end, while he led from pole position to chequered flag in the wet race two. Race three was postponed due to atrocious weather conditions.

Japan’s Yuya Motojima finished second to Munro on each occasion, benefiting from a gear issue for Munro’s KCMG team-mate Dan Wells to overtake the Briton on the last lap of race one. The gear issues continued for Wells in race two, restricting him to fifth.?Matthew Solomon bounced back from stalling in race one to complete the podium in race two.

Formula BMW Asia Cup champion Matthew Swanepoel claimed a double pole in qualifying, but stalled at the start of race one and was unable to take up his second pole in the postponed race three. More clutch issues in race two forced him to retire. Fellow South African Aston Hare, who won the the preceding JK Asia Series in 2012, was eliminated in a first-lap crash in race one after starting fifth, and finished seventh from the back in race two.

Formula Masters China Round 1/6 ? Zhuhai, China
Race 1
Report: Munro charges to victory in FMCS opener at Zhuhai
1st: James Munro 2nd: Yuya Motojima 3rd: Dan Wells
Race 2
Report: Munro doubles up in rain-hit race two at Zhuhai
1st: James Munro 2nd: Yuya Motojima 3rd: Matthew Solomon
Championship standings
1 James Munro 33 pts
2 Yuya Motojima 25 pts
3 Dan Wells 16 pts
4 Yuan Bo 14 pts
5 Matthew Solomon 12 pts
6 Darma Hutomo 10 pts
Next round: Shanghai (24-25 May)

Japanese F3: Matsushita masters Motegi with treble win

Nobuharu Matsushita

Photo: Japanese Formula 3 Association

Honda-backed Nobuharu Matsushita claimed all three wins on offer at Motegi, claiming the championship lead by a point in the process. After finishing fourth in the two opening races of the campaign at Suzuka, 20-year-old Matsushita led every lap of all three races.

Toyota protege Kenta Yamashita finished second to Matsushita in all three races, leaving the 18-year-old just a point behind Matsushita in the standings. Erstwhile leader Mitsunori Takaboshi could only manage a third and two fourths, dropping the Nissan man to third in the standings.

Yamashita’s TOM’S team-mate and 2013 runner-up Takamoto Katsuta finished fourth in race one and then third in the final two races, leaving the top four within 13 points of each other.

Japanese F3 Round 2/6 ? Motegi, Japan
Race 1
1st: Nobuharu Matsushita 2nd: Kenta Yamashita 3rd: Mitsunori Takaboshi
Race 2
1st: Nobuharu Matsushita 2nd: Kenta Yamashita 3rd: Takamoto Katsuta
Race 3
1st: Nobuharu Matsushita 2nd: Kenta Yamashita 3rd: Takamoto Katsuta
Championship standings
1 Nobuharu Matsushita 39 pts
2 Kenta Yamashita 38 pts
3 Mitsunori Takaboshi 31 pts
4 Takamoto Katsuta 26 pts
5 Daiki Sasaki 6 pts
6 Shota Kiyohara 5 pts
Next round: Okayama (14-15 June)

Star Driver: Richie Stanaway

A podium finish and second place in the standings represented a fine return to single-seater action for Stanaway. The GP3 field is again a competitive one but the Kiwi was one of the very quickest on the opening weekend. It seems there’s more to come, as well.

Richie Stanaway

Photo: Malcolm Griffiths/GP3 Series Media Service