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PaddockScout Roundup: GP2 & FR3.5 Monaco

by Valentin Khorounzhiy

GP2: Palmer strengthens points lead, teammate Richelmi bags first win

Photo: Alastair Staley / GP2 Series Media Service

Photo: Alastair Staley / GP2 Series Media Service

Jolyon Palmer‘s sizeable points lead after two rounds might have been seen as a fluke, a by-product of GP2’s generally hectic nature – but, at Monte Carlo, that view largely became irrelevant as the Brit cemented his status as the title favorite. Comfortably quickest in practice and in qualifying, the Brit failed to lead the GP2 field into turn one of the feature race, but soon worked his way around leader Mitch Evans to retake first and went on to take the win. He was only seventh in the sprint race – his first podium-less race of the year – but now leads his nearest rivals by close to 50 points.

His teammate Stephane Richelmi had a tough first race from third on the grid as poorly-timed safety cars and stacking in the pits left him just eighth at the finish. However, the Monegasque would have nothing to complain about on Sunday, as he converted a reverse-grid pole into a career-first victory, fittingly taken on home turf.

Carlin’s Felipe Nasr – who is often viewed as Palmer’s main rival for the crown – had a dismal qualifying and started the feature race in 18th. He got a good start and opted for an early stop, which would prove to be a massive advantage when the safety car came out shortly thereafter. Quickest of those who managed to pit before, the Brazilian salvaged a podium finish from the first race – however, his luck would change on Sunday when a puncture forced him off at Mirabeau and out of the race.

Monte Carlo specialist Johnny Cecotto failed to continue his two-year pole streak at the circuit and, despite his naturally suitable driving style, struggled for pace on the longer stints in the races – yet still managed to take two fourth place finishes. His teammate Sergio Canamasas managed fifth in the first race after benefiting from an early stop and then took himself to second place in the reverse-grid race with a great start – marking his first podium in the series.

Two frontrunners of the pre-season – Evans and Rio Haryanto – finally bagged their first podiums of their respective campaigns. The same was not true for Daniel Abt or Alexander Rossi, who both remain at zero points after the latter took out the former in race one and effectively ending both their weekends.

Pre-season favorites Stefano Coletti and Stoffel Vandoorne both left Monte empty-handed – Coletti crashed into Simon Trummer for second in race one after a very spectacular race, while Vandoorne wasn’t called into the pits during a safety car period and forfeited his points chances.

GP2 Series Round 3/11 ? Monte Carlo, Monaco
Race 1
Report: Palmer triumphs in Monte Carlo thriller
1st: Jolyon Palmer 2nd: Mitch Evans 3rd: Felipe Nasr
Race 2
Report: Richelmi claims maiden GP2 win at home in Monaco
1st: Stephane Richelmi 2nd: Sergio Canamasas 3rd: Rio Haryanto
Championship standings
1 Jolyon Palmer 101 pts
2 Felipe Nasr 57 pts
3 Johnny Cecotto 49 pts
4 Julian Leal 48 pts
5 Arthur Pic 40 pts
6 Stephane Richelmi 32 pts
Next round: Spielberg (23-24 May)

Formula Renault 3.5: Nato bags first win, status quo maintained in the points race

Photo: Florent Gooden / DPPI / Renault Sport Media

Photo: Florent Gooden / DPPI / Renault Sport Media

Not content with winning both races in GP2, French squad DAMS dominated yet another series that took to the streets of Monaco this weekend. Their duo of Norman Nato and Carlos Sainz ran 1-2 in practice and were both on top of their respective grounds in qualifying. The Frenchman, who picked up pole with a superb flyer in Group B, started the sole race of the weekend from pole and proceeded to comfortably take his maiden victory in the series.

Sainz, meanwhile, was sent to fourth on the grid after having blocked fellow Red Bull junior Pierre Gasly in qualifying and would go on to finish the race in that position, with all his nearest points rivals scoring fewer points.

For Marco Sorensen and Jazeman Jaafar, who both took their first podiums of 2013 on this track, it was a weekend of deja vu. Just like 2013, they lined up third and second on the grid respectively. Just like 2013, Sorensen got the jump on Jaafar to take P2 into turn one. And, just like 2013, both of them finished on the podium, securing their first podiums of the season.

FR2.0 graduates Oliver Rowland and Gasly added solid points to their tallies by finishing fifth and seventh respectively. Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi were also in the points, while the remaining member of the top six – Nikolay Martsenko – sat out the weekend for a combination of personal and monetary reasons.

Championship standings

Formula Renault 3.5 Series Round 3/9 ? Monte Carlo, Monaco
Race 1
Report: Nato secures breakthrough FR3.5 win in Monaco
1st: Norman Nato 2nd: Marco Sorensen 3rd: Jazeman Jaafar
Championship standings
1 Carlos Sainz 74 pts
2 Oliver Rowland 59 pts
3 Pierre Gasly 51 pts
4 Will Stevens 44 pts
5 Roberto Merhi 38 pts
6 Nikolay Martsenko 36 pts
Next round: Spa-Francorchamps (31 May – 1 June)

Formula Renault 2.0 Alps: Isaakyan puts his name on the map with two wins

Photo: Fast Lane Promotion

Photo: Fast Lane Promotion

SMP Racing protege Matevos Isaakyan proved to be the star of the FR2.0 Alps weekend at Spielberg, picking up his first two wins in Formula Renault racing in comfortable fashion. The Russian started both races from pole – albeit that would only be determined hours after qualifying following penalties three consecutive provisional polesitters – and comfortably led them both lights to flag, securing JD Motorsport’s first victories in the series.

George Russell joined Isaakyan on front row for race two and converted that into his first podium in the championship. The Koiranen man then went on to finish fifth in race two. His teammate and championship leader Nyck de Vries, who won the previous four races of the season, managed two third places on the Austrian track and increased his lead in the standings.

Charles Leclerc narrowly missed out on a podium finish in both races, which was still enough to take solid points out of the weekend. Meanwhile, Cram’s Alessio Rovera made the points for the first time in race one and then drove a great race on Sunday to secure his first podium in the series.

Simon Gachet was among the penalized provisional polemen after qualifying but was demoted to the back of the back due to a fuel infringement. The Frenchman fought his way back into the points for both races, but has still been demoted from second to fourth in the standings.

Formula Renault 2.0 Alps Round 3/7 ? Spielberg, Austria
Race 1
Report: Isaakyan takes maiden Alps win from pole at Spielberg
1st: Matevos Isaakyan 2nd: George Russell 3rd: Nyck de Vries
Race 2
Report: Isaakyan does the double at Spielberg
1st: Matevos Isaakyan 2nd: Alessio Rovera 3rd: Nyck de Vries
Championship standings
1 Nyck de Vries 130 pts
2 Matevos Isaakyan 68 pts
3 George Russell 65 pts
4 Simon Gachet 62 pts
5 Charles Leclerc 50 pts
6 Alessio Rovera 26 pts
Next round: Spa-Francorchamps (7-8 June)

Formula Renault 2.0 NEC: Amweg and Morris take maiden wins

Photo: Formula Renault 2.0 NEC

Photo: Formula Renault 2.0 NEC

With the series now at four winners and ten different podium finishers in four races, the NEC series is looking as unpredictable as they get, following the second round at Silverstone.

This time around, the variance in results was very much tied to qualifying, as the weather conditions changed radically between the first and second session.

Having locked out the front row, ART Junior Team duo of Levin Amweg and Aurelien Panis secured a 1-2 finish of the team in the race – with Amweg beating poleman Panis off the line and leading him home. Neither of them finished race two.

Both aforementioned drivers celebrated their first podiums in Formula Renault racing in that race and so has third-placed Jake Hughes – albeit the Mark Burdett man performed much better in the subsequent race, taking a respectable fourth.

Fortec drivers Seb Morris and Ben Barnicoat were on front row for the second race – the former having spun out while chasing the latter in the earlier outing. The two remained in position off the line, but Barnicoat made contact when defending his position later on and wound up with a puncture. Morris brought the car home in first, narrowly seeing off first-time podium finisher Callan O’Keeffe.

With such variance in results, consistency is key – and, as such it’s Steijn Schothorst who leads the standings after two rounds, having picked up two fifths and two thirds.

Formula Renault 2.0 NEC Round 2/7 ? Silverstone, GB
Race 1
Report: Amweg beats Panis to take Formula Renault NEC win
1st: Levin Amweg 2nd: Aurelien Panis 3rd: Jake Hughes
Race 2
Report: Morris wins in Formula Renault NEC at Silverstone
1st: Seb Morris 2nd: Callan O’Keeffe 3rd: Steijn Schothorst
Championship standings
1 Steijn Schothorst 72 pts
2 Louis Deletraz 62 pts
3 Seb Morris 57 pts
4 Ukyo Sasahara 49 pts
5 Levin Amweg 47 pts
6 Ben Barnicoat 47 pts
Next round: Hockenheim (14-15 June)

British F3: High-profile guest drivers run the show at Silverstone

Photo: British F3 International Circuit

Photo: British F3 International Circuit

When Fortec announced Marvin Kirchhofer for Silverstone and Carlin then added Egor Orudzhev to the rounds’ entry list, it seemed like this would be a round where the five regulars wouldn’t have much of a chance to shine. However, Martin Cao, the championship leader, subverted the expectations early on by taking double pole in a wet qualifying session.

Still, the 30 minute races put everything back in its place – in race one, Orudzhev starred in heavy rain, with Cao leading Kirchhofer in second. The German would probably have been disappointed with only third place and turned it around in the subsequent races, winning both of them with ease.

Cao twice finished second to Kirchhofer and increased his overall points lead, now having a record of six consecutive second-place finishes since the start of the season. In a retirement-heavy race two, it was Carlin’s Peter Li Zhi Cong who completed the podium after the race was red flagged – while, in race three, Fortec man Matt Rao was the one to round out the top three.

There was little doubt about Orudzhev’s pace in the dry, but he didn’t get to show it off much – crashing into then championship runner-up Andy Chang Wing Chung in race two and retiring with a technical problem in race three.

Chang’s subsequent retirement was just the top of a tough weekend for Double R, as neither he nor Camren Kaminsky made it onto the podium.

British F3 Round 2/7 ? Silverstone, UK
Race 1
Report: Orudzhev sails to victory on British F3 debut
1st: Egor Orudzhev 2nd: Martin Cao 3rd: Marvin Kirchhofer
Race 2
Report: Kirchhofer victorious in chaotic second race at Silverstone
1st: Marvin Kirchhofer 2nd: Martin Cao 3rd: Peter Li Zhi Cong
Race 3
Report: Kirchhofer leads Fortec 1-2-3 in third race at Silverstone
1st: Marvin Kirchhofer 2nd: Martin Cao 3rd: Matt Rao
Championship standings
1 Martin Cao 90 pts
2 Matt Rao 56 pts
3 Andy Chang 55 pts
4 Marvin Kirchhofer 54 pts
5 Camren Kaminsky 48 pts
6 Sam MacLeod 39 pts
Next round: Snetterton (21-22 June)

German F3: Pommer pulls away with another two victories

Photo: Alexander Trienitz / ATS Formel 3 Cup

Photo: Alexander Trienitz / ATS Formel 3 Cup

German F3 title favorite Markus Pommer increased his lead in the standings after a successful secound round at Lausitz. The series veteran showed pace early on by taking double pole in qualifying. However, he suffered a terrible start in race one and was further tagged by an off-course Nikita Zlobin, but luckily managed to continue, recovering to fourth at the finish line. He then made easy work of the reverse-grid race two before dominating race three.

His main rival coming into the weekend – Nabil Jeffri – retired from race one after an avoidable collision and then struggled from the back of the grid in race two. He was back on the podium in race three, but has now dropped to fourth in the standings.

VAR’s Sam MacLeod was there to pick up the pieces when Jeffri retired from the opening race and went on to claim his first win in the series. He made the podium in race two and, despite stalling on the grid in the final outing, fought his way back up to secure another third place.

Indy Dontje added two more podium finishes to his tally, but is still winless – his podium streak came to an end in race three when he was bogged down behind the stalled MacLeod off the line and could only fight back to fourth.

Finally, amidst all the chaos, there was cause for celebration for JBR’s Nicolai Sylvest, who managed his first podium finish in the series in race one.

German F3 Cup Round 2/8 ? Lausitz, Germany
Race 1
Report: MacLeod wins in strange opening race at Lausitz
1st: Sam MacLeod 2nd: Indy Dontje 3rd: Nicolai Sylvest
Race 2
Report: Pommer eases to reverse-grid win at Lausitz
1st: Markus Pommer 2nd: Indy Dontje 3rd: Sam MacLeod
Race 3
Report: Pommer ends Lausitz round with dominant win
1st: Markus Pommer 2nd: Nabil Jeffri 3rd: Sam MacLeod
Championship standings
1 Markus Pommer 110 pts
2 Sam MacLeod 83 pts
3 Indy Dontje 79 pts
4 Nabil Jeffri 61 pts
5 Nicolai Sylvest 48 pts
6 Weiron Tan 32 pts
Next round: Spielberg (7-8 June)

ADAC Formel Masters: Dienst joins title fight as Gunther closes in on Jensen

Photo: ADAC Formel Masters

Photo: ADAC Formel Masters

After a somewhat slow start to his season, Marvin Dienst showed he can mix it with the leading duo by locking out pole positions for both feature races at Lausitzring. He was beaten off the line in race one and had to settle for second, yet managed to see off the opposition to take his first feature race win of the season the next day.

It was Maximilian Gunther who stole the win from Dienst in the opening race before finishing second to his teammate in race two. Championship leader Mikkel Jensen rounded out the podium in both feature races, which allowed him to remain in the lead in the points standings.

Team Lotus didn’t have much to boast about in the first two races of the round but locked out the podium in the reverse-grid outing. Dennis Marschall converted pole into a first win ahead of impressive debutant Luis-Enrique Breuer and Ralph Boschung. Dienst and Gunther rounded out the top five – while Jensen was the only retirement of the race, having went off on lap three.

ADAC Formel Masters Round 3/8 ? Lausitz, Germany
Race 1
Report: Gunther secures third win of season at Lausitz
1st: Maximilian Gunther 2nd: Marvin Dienst 3rd: Mikkel Jensen
Race 2
Report: Dienst sees off Gunther and Jensen to take second win of season
1st: Marvin Dienst 2nd: Maximilian Gunther 3rd: Mikkel Jensen
Race 3
Report: Dennis Marschall secures first win in eventful Lausitz race
1st: Dennis Marschall 2nd Luis-Enrique Breuer 3rd: Ralph Boschung
Championship standings
1 Mikkel Jensen 123 pts
2 Maximilian Gunther 121 pts
3 Marvin Dienst 104 pts
4 Tim Zimmermann 75 pts
5 Kim-Luis Schramm 75 pts
6 Ralph Boschung 63 pts
Next round: Spielberg (7-8 June)

FA1: Melker and Bortolotti remain only winners in series

Photo: Formula Acceleration

Photo: Formula Acceleration

FA1’s third round at Nurburgring saw, perhaps, the championship’s strongest grid thus far, yet there were no new winners as the same two drivers continued to battle for the top step of the podium.

Nigel Melker, who won both races at Navarra, took pole for the Saturday race and, despite dropping to third during the opening stint, proceeded to win due to a good pit stop strategy. He was again on pole the day after, but a clutch failure sent the Dutchman out of the race before it even commenced.

His main rival Mirko Bortolotti recovered from being spun out on lap one of the first race to eventually take second at the line. He then went on to win the second race and retake the championship lead.

Series debutant Alessio Picariello made a good early impression and even led the early stint of the opening race before falling back to fourth due to a miscommunication with the pit crew. In second race, he was again fourth, having recovered from a bad opening lap.

Richard Gonda was in contention for the win in both races but ultimately settled for third on Saturday and second on Sunday. Sergio Campana was also among the frontrunners and finally overcame recurring bad luck to secure a maiden podium in race two.

FA1 Round 3/8 ? Nurburgring, Germany
Race 1
Report: Melker takes third FA1 victory in a row at Nurburgring
1st: Nigel Melker 2nd: Mirko Bortolotti 3rd: Richard Gonda
Race 2
Report: Bortolotti edges Gonda to take third FA1 win
1st: Mirko Bortolotti 2nd: Richard Gonda 3rd: Sergio Campana
Championship standings (unofficial)
1 Mirko Bortolotti 123 pts
2 Nigel Melker 103 pts
3 Sebastian Balthasar 53 pts
4 Richard Gonda 52 pts
5 Armando Parente 40 pts
6 Sergio Campana 31 pts
Next round: Hockenheim (15 June)

Formula Masters China: Munro maintains unbeaten streak five races in

PhotoL Formula Masters China

Photo: Formula Masters China

Kiwi James Munro made a serious statement in favour of his title chances in the second Formula Masters China round at Shanghai, taking three wins from pole and bringing his overall tally to five consecutive victories since the start of the season. The KCMG racer led every lap of the weekend despite pressure from rivals and now has a very solid lead at the front of the standings.

His teammate Dan Wells was the closest to challenging Munro over the first two races and, despite narrowly missing out on the podium in the final one, he now sits as the Kiwi’s chief opponent. Matthew Solomon also gave Munro trouble, nearly managing to steal the win in race three and managing to secure top three finishes in all the races.

KCMG’s third man Matthew Swanepoel was let down by a weak performance in qualifying, but managed to score decent points in the races – in contrast to his performance at round one, where he topped qualifying but recorded zero points. Meanwhile, Meritus leader Aston Hare had a solid round, finishing fourth in the first two races and then picking up his first podium of the season in race three.

Formula Masters China Round 2/6 ? Shanghai, China
Race 1
Report: Munro remains unbeaten in FMCS with race one win
1st: James Munro 2nd: Dan Wells 3rd: Matthew Solomon
Race 2
Report: Munro extends advantage with fourth consecutive win
1st: James Munro 2nd: Dan Wells 3rd: Matthew Solomon
Race 3
Report: Unstoppable Munro takes fifth straight victory
1st: James Munro 2nd: Matthew Solomon 3rd: Aston Hare
Championship standings
1 James Munro 88 pts
2 Dan Wells 51 pts
3 Matthew Solomon 47 pts
4 Aston Hare 30 pts
5 Yuja Motojima 25 pts
6 Darma Hutomo 14 pts
Next round: Inje (19-20 July)

F3 Brazil: Moraes and Guerra take maiden wins at Interlagos

Photo: Bruno Terena / Vicar

Photo: Bruno Terena / Vicar

Brazilian F3’s Class A was a bit of a one-way street prior to Interlagos, with Pedro Piquet picking up the maximum amount of points in the six previous races. However, the youngster only managed third and fifth throughout the weekend at the classic Sao Paulo track, leaving the way open for new winners to emerge.

Lukas Moraes took a comfortable lights-to-flag win in a wet opening race, with Class B star Vitor Baptista and frequent MRF Challenge racer Renan Guerra completing the podium.

Guerra, making his F3 Brazil debut at this round, then went on to fight his way through the field in the second race and was the eventual winner, with Baptista again in second and Piquet taking third.

Piquet still comfortably leads the Class A standings with Bruno Etman (who bagged two fourth-place finishes) in second and Moraes in third. Baptista is now eight for eight wins in Class B.

F3 Brazil Round 4/8 ? Interlagos, Brazil
Race 1
Report: Moraes takes first win in F3 Brazil at Interlagos
1st: Lukas Moraes 2nd: Vitor Baptista 3rd: Renan Guerra
Race 2
Report: Late drama gives Guerra win on F3 debut at Interlagos
1st: Renan Guerra 2nd: Vitor Baptista 3rd: Pedro Piquet
Championship standings (Class A)
1 Pedro Piquet 109 pts
2 Bruno Etman 74 pts
3 Lukas Moraes 56 pts
4 Arthur Fortunato 46 pts
5 Raphael Raucci 42 pts
6 Renan Guerra 27 pts
Next round: Curitiba (26-27 July)

F3 Cup: Powell wins twice on return

2013 F3 Cup runner-up Alice Powell took two victories on her one-off return to the series at Rockingham. Powell narrowly saw off championship leader Toby Sowery on both occasions, winning by 0.35s in race one and by 1.3s in race two. Louis Hamilton-Smith and Tristan Cliffe picked up a podium each.

In the standings, Sowery leads with 181 points. Cliffe is his nearest rival at 42 points adrfit.

Formula Renault Argentina: Schmauk enters title fight with Rosario double

Chilean racer Felipe Schmauk made himself a factor in the 2014 Formula Renault Argentina title race with two wins at Rosario. In both racers, he was followed by Federico Cavagnero, who increased his points lead in the overall classification.

Guillermo Rey closed out the podium in race one, while 2012 champion Carlos Javier Merlo secured third in the second race.

In the standings, Cavagnero leads with 88 points, while Schmauk is now second at 71.

Star Driver: Matevos Isaakyan

A month and a half ago at Imola, Matevos Isaakyan was barred from participating in the FR2.0 Alps due to being too young. As of the end of this weekend, he is now a two-time race winner in the series. At Spielberg, he delivered two of his most mature and confident drives in single-seaters. If single-seater fans didn’t know his name before, they should now.