Photo: GP3 Media Service
The GP2 and GP3 seasons come to a conclusion at Monza this weekend, with the title still up for grabs in the latter after a highly competitive season…
Valtteri Bottas lay down in 10th place and 17 points adrift of the GP3 standings lead at the halfway point of the season after Silverstone. However, a run of three wins from four races spanning the German, Hungarian and Belgian rounds vaulted him into a commanding 11 point lead after his victory in tthe first of the races at Spa.
However, a mechanical problem in the second race allowed his ART teammate James Calado to play catch up. The only one of the leading drivers to score points in both races at Spa, his double second-place finish in Belgium leaves him just five points adrift of Bottas arriving in Monza.
A maximum of 20 points are up for grabs this weekend, with the first two of those available in qualifying for pole position. Bottas and Calado are the form drivers in the series at the moment, and have in fact shared the last two pole positions. Esteban Gutierrez sealed the title with pole at Monza twelve months ago, and a pole for one of the ART duo could swing the title one way or the other.
Three other drivers are still mathematically in contention for the title. Nigel Melker needs at least 15 points from this weekend after his retirement in the second race at Spa, while a double retirement for Alexander Sims leaves him needing a near perfect score, while Adrian Quaife-Hobbs needs pole position, two wins and two fastest laps, and still hope that Bottas doesn’t score a single point and that Calado low-scores too. Realistically, its between Bottas and Calado.
There is one driver change for this weekend, with Dean Smith‘s race-by-race deal with Addax coming to an end after a run of poor results. His replacement is Vittorio Ghirelli, who was racing with Jenzer until leaving the team ahead of Spa.
In GP2 it’s all about the race for the runner-up spot after Romain Grosjean wrapped up the title in Belgium. A stat to add further spice to the battle is that all six previous GP2 runner-ups have gone on to race in F1 (the full list is Kovalainen, Piquet, di Grassi, Senna, Petrov and Perez). Giedo van der Garde currently holds the position, but failed to score in Belgium and hasn’t been to the podium since Silverstone. Jules Bianchi has recovered from his terrible start to the season and is now just one point behind van der Garde. Charles Pic, Luca Filippi and Sam Bird are also in contention.
There are two changes on the driver front, with Stefano Coletti being replaced after his back injury by fellow Monegasque Stephane Richelmi, who has been racing in Formula Renault 3.5 this year.?Alvaro Parente returns from GT commitments with McLaren to race for Carlin instead of Mikhail Aleshin.
Elsewhere, the Formula 3 Euro Series returns to action at Silverstone supporting the 6 Hours endurance race. Roberto Merhi has a comfortable 64 point lead, while Felix Rosenqvist will be aiming for his first Euro Series victory after his surprise win in the Masters at Zandvoort. With Melker racing in GP3 this weekend, his seat as Rosenqvist’s Mucke teammate will be taken by Marco Sorensen. The Dane currently lies second in the German F3 Cup and won at Lausitz last weekend. Isreael’s Alon Day meanwhile will be making a second guest appearance of the season.