Home Featured Roundup: Frijns shines in GP2 at Barcelona as GP3 kicks off

Roundup: Frijns shines in GP2 at Barcelona as GP3 kicks off

by Valentin Khorounzhiy

Photo: Alastair Staley/GP2 Series Media Service

Robin Frijns outscored every single opponent in his second round of GP2 action, taking a first win for himself and his team…

GP2 Series

Frijns stuns the field while Coletti claims another sprint race wins

While most of the winners in GP2 throughout the first two rounds were expected, par for the course, the Barcelona round produced a real shocker for the championship. A combination of clever pit-stop strategy and spectacular tyre management skills saw Hilmer Motorsport’s Robin Frijns, Sauber’s reserve driver and reigning World Series by Renault champion, take his debut points in GP2 in the form of a victory that’s sure to go down in the series history. The Dutchman had a very mature? drive and, while benefited from a couple of retirements throughout the field, did very well to bring his rookie team their first victory. On Sunday, that was followed up by a great start from eighth and a phenomenal sprint race drive to take second as Frijns ensured that he would be more than making up for the lacklustre debut weekend.

For some favorites, it was a rather good weekend as well. Stefano Coletti did a stellar job, his usual for 2013, running in second in race one before the late stop dropped him down to an eventual fourth place. He was then absolutely impeccable in the sprint race with a fantastic start that allowed him to control the field for the entire distance, taking his second win of the season. Another consistent performance, therefore, sees the Monegasque leading the championship by a decent margin coming into Monaco.

Felipe Nasr also continued his pattern, making another two appearances on the podium, even though his maiden win continued to elude him. His expert tyre management skills allowed him to take second in race one, while a good fight through the field gave him third in race two. He’s second in the championship and the first win cannot be any closer – Carlin should be proud.

Certain favorites, on the other hand, had weekends to forget. Fabio Leimer and James Calado came together during the early stages of race one, which ended the race for the Brit and effectively ruined Leimer’s outing and, while both made up a decent amount of positions in race two, it wasn’t enough for points. Marcus Ericsson, having finally scored his first points in 2013 by getting pole position, then was forced into retirement from the lead ten laps into race one, effectively losing any chance of adding to his points tally. Sam Bird also couldn’t finish race one and, as such, the Briton did not record points at Barcelona, though the thought of Monaco being next is clearly rather comforting.

For James Calado and Fabio Leimer the weekend was effectively over after turn one (Photo: Alastair Staley/GP2 Series Media Service)

For Calado and Leimer the round was effectively over into turn one (Photo: Alastair Staley/GP2 Series Media Service)

Frenchman Tom Dillmann earned lots of plaudits for his race one performance, fighting through the field from his initial 13th on the grid to fifth. He was higher up during the race but was hampered by several off-track moments, some caused by illegal manoeuvres from others. His race two turned out to be one to forget as he finished a lap down after an incident on the first lap.

Jolyon Palmer continued to search for his first podium of 2013 and earned it on the road in race one, finishing third. He was, post-race, found to have pushed Bird off the track, causing his retirement – the resulting penalty demoted Palmer to tenth. The Carlin man then fought through the field to take fourth in race two, but that tempting podium finish will have to wait at least another couple of weeks.

Jon Lancaster benefited from Palmer’s penalty which turned his GP2 return from “great” to “triumphant”. The Brit’s first drive for Hilmer made his racecraft undeniable, with his finishing fourth on the road and being promoted to his first GP2 podium in what was his only third appearance in the series. He didn’t score points in race two but that shouldn’t make the overall impression from the weekend worse.

Report: Frijns wins epic Barcelona feature race

Report: Coletti extends points lead with Barcelona sprint win

Next round: Monaco, 25-26 May

GP3 Series

Second-year drivers get a mighty start to the season, with Ellinas and Vainio getting their second GP3 wins

Race one had a rather predictable podium

Race one had a rather predictable podium (Photo: Alastair Stanley/GP3 Series Media Service)

Coming into the season opener at Barcelona as the title favorite, Tio Ellinas made sure he maintained that image, taking his maiden pole position in qualifying and converting it into a win in race one. It didn’t come easy, though, as Ellinas was challenged by other drivers throughout and seemed to be rather uneasy with the tyres, struggling with wear. However, the Cypriot continued to demonstrate his notable defensive skills and was first to the finish line. He then took fourth in the reverse-grid race to lead the series after round one.

Patric Niederhauser also showed he means business with his Barcelona performance. He nearly stole pole from Ellinas in qualifying and was one lap short of taking the win in the race, not quite managing to find a way way past Ellinas on his much fresher tyres. He then fought through the field masterfully in race two to take another podium in third and sits second in the championship.

Conor Daly‘s first showing as ART’s team leader was respectable. He ran a lonely race in third in the opener only to find himself embroiled in the battle for the lead on the final lap, although he had virtually no time to attempt a move. He was then fifth in the reverse-grid race, which ensures a decent points haul from the opening round.

Then there was Koiranen. They made headlines in practice with their cars lacking pace, but in qualifying it was suddenly there. Kevin Korjus proved mighty quick around Barcelona and topped the session, but a previous ten-place penalty for ignoring yellows did not allow him to start from pole. He did well enough to take eighth in race one which allowed for reverse-grid pole. Aaro Vainio, his teammate, was fifth in race one and beat everyone else off the start in the reverse-grid race to take full control of the race, taking his second win in his GP3 career, allowing for a Koiranen 1-2 with Korjus in second.

Several rookies made quite good impressions. Jack Harvey took two sixth-place finishes to kick off his GP3 career while Alex Fontana, given the same penalty as Korjus, showed good pace which only translated into one point. Out of the returnees, meanwhile, Nick Yelloly, Lewis Williamson and Dino Zamparelli looked reasonably quick, as did Italian David Fumanelli, but weekends for all were marred by retirements and penalties, with only Yelloly managing a good points haul.

The Red Bull junior duo of Carlos Sainz, Jr. and Daniil Kvyat looked very rapid in qualifying, but that proved for naught in the races. For startes, both had penalties – Sainz was one of the people caught ignoring yellows, while Kvyat was found to have impeded Daly in qualifying. They fought well through the grid in race one but then found themselves dropping back, unable to cope with the tyrewear. The Russian did not finish the second race, while it looked like Sainz would bring home his first points in seventh, but his car was found underweight post-race and a subsequent disqualification ensued.

Report: Ellinas holds on to beat Niederhauser to GP3 opener win

Report: Vainio and Korjus claim one-two for debutants Koiranen

Next round: Circuit de Valencia, 16 June

German F3

Lotus continue to dominante, with the inter-team battle getting more competitive

Kirchhofer was there yet again to lead the Lotus charge (Photo: formel3.de)

Kirchhofer was there yet again to lead the Lotus charge (Photo: formel3.de)

Lotus’ rookie Marvin Kirchhofer continued to enjoy a perfect qualifying record after two rounds of German F3 as, at Spa, he also managed to take double pole. In race one, he confidently outpaced his main competitors to take a dominant win. In the reverse-grid race, he took third and was looking good to round out the weekend with another win, but lost the lead in race three due to a spin. Kirchhofer still managed to recover to third, and leaves Spa leading his nearest competitor by 33 points.

Another Lotus man, Artem Markelov, enjoyed a decent weekend that allowed him to keep second in the standings. He didn’t qualify particularly well and only managed sixth in race one. However, he was back on form in the reverse-grid outing and in the third race, taking second in both. With fifth second-place finishes, Markelov has 80 points in the back, his first win surely on the cards.

Emil Bernstorff did really well to offset a troublesome opening round with a good performance at Spa. He ran in second in race one before falling down to fourth, was fifth in the reverse-grid race but finally got his chance to shine in race three. Utilizing his teammate’s troubles, Bernstorff took the lead and secured his maiden victory in the series. The weekend puts him in fourth in the standings, 51 points behind Kirchhofer.

Performance Racing had a worse round than their outing at Oscherslben, but John Bryant-Meisner continued his very strong form, taking third and fourth in the feature races. The reverse-grid race, yet again, saw the Swede stand on the top step of the podium, and overall he sits in third in the standings. Meanwhile, Thomas Jager and Yannick Mettler scored decent points but had a retirement each. Van Amersfoort’s Gustavo Menezes continued to be the top driver outside of the two main teams and scored another podium.

In the Trophy class, the two GU-Racing drivers continued their fight, with Freddy Killensberger edging out Sebastian Balthasar for the class win in two of the races and Hubertus-Carlos Vier picking up victory in race three.

Report: Kirchhofer takes race one win at Spa-Francorchamps

Report: Bryant-Meisner takes second win of the season in race two at Spa

Report: Bernstorff takes race three victory in Lotus lockout

Next round: Nurburgring, 18-19 May

ADAC Formel Masters

Picariello still class of the field, but Kremer and Beer make the best of his race three retirement

Alessio Picariello continued to completely dominate in the series feature races, taking two wins at his home track at Spa. He was in a league of his own in wet conditions in race one, while race two saw him take the lead into turn one and never relinquish it. The weekend ended up somewhat marred by race three, in which he retired after a collision, but the two wins were more than enough to maintain a healthy lead.

It looks like Jason Kremer will be his main opponent as the German significantly picked up the pace after a tough round one to take double pole. He didn’t convert either of the poles into wins but was there to pick up the win in the reverse-grid race and, with a lot of points scored this weekend, Kremer moves up to third in the standings.

Kremer emerged as one of the likely challengers for Picariello (Photo: ADAC Formel Masters)

Kremer emerged as one of the likely challengers for Picariello (Photo: ADAC Formel Masters)

Nicolas Beer continued to be the image of consistency, as he got two fourth places and a podium throughout the weekend, which allows him to keep second in the standings. In six races, he still hasn’t finished lower than fourth.

The Lotus squad continued to struggle rather unexpectedly, with their four drivers mostly fighting for the final points-scoring positions. It was Mikkel Jensen‘s podium in race three that brightened up a rather gloomy weekend for the team, as Indy Dontje, Callan O’Keeffe and Beitske Visser only brought in a handful of points.

Maximilian Gunther continued to produce absolutely stellar results, appearing on the podium twice and firmly establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with in the championship. Meanwhile, Ralph Boschung produced the surprise of the weekend, as he drove to third in the reverse-grid outing, having started a bit further down the order – in 12th.

Report: Picariello scores dominant home victory at Spa-Francorchamps

Report: Picariello scores his second home win at Spa-Francorchamps

Report: First win of the season for Kremer

Next round: Sachsenring, 8-9 June

F3 Open

Urrutia finally realizes potential, while Stuvik builds up a massive lead

Urrutia made amends for round one with a brilliant Portimao showing (Photo: FOTOSPEEDY)

Urrutia made amends for round one with a brilliant Portimao showing (Photo: FOTOSPEEDY)

The Portimao round of F3 Open saw championship leader Sandy Stuvik continue his pattern of very strong performances. The Thai racer came very close to winning race one, finishing 0.6s behind the leader, and took a confident podium in race two. As his main rivals struggled for consistency, Stuvik’s excellent round allows him to lead the series by 28 points after two rounds.

However, it was Uruguayan youngster Santiago Urrutia who stole the headlines. Quick as usual over one lap, he finally managed to transfer that pace to the races, taking the win in race one and finishing second in race two. Despite the non-score in round one, he now sits in second in the standings.

Ed Jones was another driver to secure his first win, as he took the lead early on in race two, which he maintained until the checkered flag. In race one, he finished fourth, and would be in a better position in the standings if he didn’t miss round one due to a clash with the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0.

Alex Toril had his best weekend to date, as he took pole for race one and, although he failed to secure the win, he still took a podium finish. In the second qualifying session, he came together with Nelson Mason and the two had to start from the back, but Toril managed to fight his way back into the points.

Finally, Hector Hurst was the poleman for race two after finishing tenth in the first event. He was unable to maintain the lead and was pushed down to fourth by the time the race came to a close.

Report: Urrutia scores maiden F3 Open win

Report: Jones triumphs in second Portimao race

Next round: Nurburgring, 1-2 June

Formula Renault 2.0 Alps
Fuoco did an incredible job to upstage many Formula Renault regulars

Fuoco did an incredible job to upstage many Formula Renault regulars (Photo: renaultsportitalia.it)

While the first victory achieved by Antonio Fuoco in Alps came as a result of considerable luck, with the two rivals ahead of him coming together, the same was not applicable for the Italian’s Imola weekend, where he took double pole and proceeded to win both races. In race one, he fared very well in difficult conditions, but eventually found himself spinning out – however, the race was called by a red flag and the Italian received the win. In race two, Fuoco was impeccable and completely dominated the proceedings. The masterful weekend performance sees the Italian lead the series by a whopping 36 points from his nearest rival.

The other Prema drivers were largely under the radar due to Fuoco’s performance, but still managed decent performances. Bruno Bonifacio finished the first race in fourth and then one-upped his performance in race three, taking third with an early overtake and keeping it until the end of the race. Luca Ghiotto was fifth in race one and, despite a penalty for a false start in race two, still managed sixth.

The French contingent in Alps continued to look very strong, headed by Pierre Gasly, who appeared on the podium in both races and most consistently challenged Fuoco, which allows him to sit in second in the championship. William Vermont was also very productive, with a fourth-place and a third-place (which nearly turned into a win, as he passed both Fuoco and Gasly in race one on the lap that saw the race-red flagged). Meanwhile, Eurocup leader Matthieu Vaxiviere had a calm, consistent weekend, bringing in decent points in both races.

Dutchman Nyck de Vries also brought in points in both races, although his second race saw contact with Dario Capitanio that saw the Italian spin out. Meanwhile, Kuba Dalewski looked good in his first Alps round, scoring ten points over the two races.

Report: Antonio Fuoco takes victory in thrilling Imola race one

Report: Antonio Fuoco wins race two to close a perfect weekend in Imola

Next round: Spa-Francorchaps, 9 June

Protyre Formula Renault

Middlehurst wins twice amidst controversy with Taranov’s disqualification

The second round of the series at Snetterton saw Chris Middlehurst double his lead, as the Briton took victory in races one and three and was close to a perfect weekend, finishing second in race two. Jake Cook emerged as his main competitor, finishing on the podium in all three races, while the rest of the competitors had largely inconsistent weekends.

Sam MacLeod took his maiden win in race two, but scored only three points in the other two races. Weiron Tan scored a double pole but was unable to convert either to podiums, while Jorge Cevallos had only one top three finish, but still left Snetterton with a huge points haul.

Joe Ghanem and Matteo Ferrer didn’t have the best weekends of their career after looking good in the opener, although the former was let down by a retirement in race three in an otherwise decent appearance. Matt Rao and Matias Galetto enjoyed their maiden podium finishes, while Ivan Taranov was looking at a maiden win, crossing the line in first in race three before being disqualified for dangerous driving.

Report: Middlehurst wins twice to increase his championship lead

Next round: Thruxton, 1-2 June

Formula Renault Argentina

The third round of the series, taking place at San Juan, saw a reversal in fortunes, as Manuel Luque took his first victory in the series, edging out series leader Julian Santero. Marcelo Ciarrocchi finished in third.

Santero continues to lead the series, more than 20 points ahead of Luque, Miguel Calamari and Ciarrocchi.

Next round: Santa Rosa, 2 June

Japanese F3

The Motegi round of the series saw the continuation of the fight between Yuichi Nakayama and Takamoto Katsuta. Nakayama won all the three races this time and has a nine-point lead over his main rival, who finished second in every race of the round, as a result.

Next round: Aida, 29-30 June

PaddockScout Driver of the Weekend

Antonio Fuoco

It was a toss-up between Fuoco and Frijns with both very much deserving of the “Driver of the Weekend” title. In the end, though, it was Fuoco who did that extra bit – double pole, two wins, as many points as you could possibly earn in Alps in a weekend. The FDA junior was the shining star of a field of people much more experienced in cars than him and his Imola performance is a flash of brilliance and a display of fantastic racecraft.