In a new weekly feature, PaddockScout discusses some of the big talking points from last weekend’s racing and rounds up the results from around the world.
It was more of the same in round two of the GP2 season in Barcelona, with?Stoffel Vandoorne proving himself to be a cut above the rest once more.
After stretching his record-breaking run of consecutive pole positions to six, the McLaren protege once again drove to victory in the feature race despite it looking lost at one stage – just as it had in Bahrain.
Unlike three weeks earlier, Vandoorne had started on option tyres and pitted early, but his win was threatened by the failure of DRS to work when he was trying to carve his way through the prime-starters, only for it to become available again for the benefit of those that stopped late.
Those opponents were led by Alexander Rossi – the driver Vandoorne had overhauled late in Bahrain on the opposite strategies – but no sooner had the American eliminated the gap did he then fall away again, while Vandoorne stroked it home.
Vandoorne completed an exact repeat of his Bahrain performance by coming through to second in the sprint race, and a double victory cannot be far away.
He’s looking pretty unstoppable at the moment, and easily deserving of getting his Formula 1 break.
In fact, his form is at such a point that any other outcome for 2016 would be an injustice and a crisis for F1 as alarming as any other problems it faces right now. If a dominant GP2 champion on McLaren’s books that shares management with an active former world champion (in Jenson Button) can’t graduate immediately to a race seat in the top class, something will be badly wrong.
McLaren has more obvious issues this season but with an ageing driver pairing at present, it must plan for the future and make sure that Vandoorne as well as Kevin Magnussen (who did more than enough in his debut season to warrant a sustained place on the grid) are making positive progress in their careers next season. And really, that means them both racing in F1.
The ideal solution would be a full-on Toro Rosso-style B-team, but the current climate makes that seem like a long shot, so how a seat can be found for one or both drivers is unclear right now.
This is about more than just the team – McLaren owes it to the sport to assist two of its brightest prospects while they have them under contract.
The man denying Vandoorne his double in Barcelona was?Alex Lynn, with the reigning GP3 champion having built upon qualifying third on his debut in Bahrain to put it on the front row this time.
Overuse of his tyres was apparent again for the Briton in the feature race, dropping him to fifth by the finish, but he made up for that with a fantastic start to the sprint race. From fourth on the grid, he was soon into the lead and drove an intelligent race to stay out of Vandoorne’s reach and win on just his fourth start in GP2.
Tyre wear has been a barrier to a top feature race result so far, but on that sprint race performance, Lynn will have no trouble getting on top of it. As impressive as it is, his quick progress has perhaps been little surprise given that his maturity and shrewdness has been clear for some time. Perhaps less assured up to now has been his outright pace, but back-to-back qualifying performances have left no doubt.
His speed has no doubt helped by being a DAMS team that was the benchmark until ART’s Vandoorne hit his stride towards the end of last year, but Lynn is comparing very favourably to Pierre Gasly, who he was up against in the Red Bull Junior Team last year before leaving the scheme and bravely going up against the Frenchman at DAMS despite rapid winter pace.
Gasly completed the podium on Sunday, but only after squandering opportunities when he passed Lynn for P2 at the start of the feature race and when he then started in the same position on the grid for the sprint – two spots ahead of his team-mate.
Lynn and Gasly are playing catch up in the standings after failing to score in Bahrain, but although Vandoorne is already looking out of reach, turning their Barcelona speed into results will give them extremely creditable places in top three come the end of the seasons. That said, the consistency of Rio Haryanto, Rossi and Mitch Evans won’t be easy to overhaul.
The DAMS duo are both getting well deserved F1 tests in Barcelona this week, Gasly with his first ever runs for Toro Rosso and Red Bull and Lynn making his debut for Williams.
At McLaren, neither Vandoorne nor Magnussen will get to drive. It had better have something big planned for them soon.
GP2 – Round 2/10 ? Barcelona, Spain
Another win and runner-up spot for the relentless Stoffel Vandoorne, holding off late attacks on fresh rubber from Mitch Evans and Alexander Rossi to win the feature. The impressive Alex Lynn denies him in the sprint race to win on just his fourth start, while fellow rookie Pierre Gasly also makes the podium.
Race 1: 1 Vandoorne; 2 Evans; 3 Rossi; 4 Haryanto; 5 Lynn; 6 Marciello
Race 2: 1 Lynn; 2 Vandoorne; 3 Gasly; 4 Rossi; 5 Markelov; 6 Haryanto
Standings: Vandoorne, 86; Haryanto, 49; Rossi, 46; Evans, 28; Lynn, 25; Berthon/Gasly, 16
Next round: Monaco (22-23 May)
GP3 – Round 1/8 ? Barcelona, Spain
F3 champion Esteban Ocon lives up to top billing to win GP3 opener, beating less-expected practice and qualifying pacesetter Luca Ghiotto. Ocon’s ART team-mate and co-favourite Marvin Kirchhofer has an off-colour start to weekend, but recovers well to win race two and sit just two points in arrears.
Race 1: 1 Ocon; 2 Ghiotto; 3 Bernstorff; 4 Mardenborough; 5 Kirchhofer; 6 Eriksson
Race 2: 1 Kirchhofer; 2 Eriksson; 3 Mardenborough; 4 Fuoco; 5 Bernstorff; 6 Ceccon
Standings: Ocon, 29; Kirchhofer, 27; Ghiotto, 23; Mardenborough, 22; Bernstorff, 21; Eriksson, 20
Next round: Spielberg (20-21 June)
Euroformula Open – Round 3/8 – Estoril, Portugal
Second-year driver?Konstantin Tereshchenko extends lead with lights-to-flag win in race one. A penalty drops Vitor Baptista from second to fourth, but the Brazilian keeps the pressure on with dominant race two triumph. The promising Alessio Rovera loses ground, lacking pace and scoring just one point.
Race 1: 1 Tereshchenko; 2 Stern; 3 Kanamaru; 4 Baptista; 5 Sathienthirakul; 6 Fioravanti
Race 2: 1 Baptista; 2 Tereshchenko; 3 Sathienthirakul; 4 Kanamaru; 5 Pulcini; 6 Fioravanti
Standings: Tereshchenko, 123; Baptista, 112; Kanamaru, 75; Rovera, 67; Sathienthirakul, 58; Stern, 44
Next round: Silverstone (6-7 June)
MSA Formula – Round 3/10 – Thruxton, United Kingdom
Dan Ticktum has a nightmare weekend at Thruxton due to technical glitches, retiring twice and losing the championship lead to the consistent Ricky Collard. Sandy Mitchell stars, winning both main races and coming second in the reverse grid encounter won by Lando Norris.
Race 1: 1 Mitchell; 2 Leist; 3 Baybutt; 4 Collard; 5 Herta; 6 Martins
Race 2: 1 Norris; 2 Mitchell; 3 Martins; 4 Collard; 5 Leist; 6 Herta
Race 3: 1 Mitchell; 2 Collard; 3 Norris; 4 Leist; 5 Florescu; 6 Reddy
Standings: Collard, 130; Ticktum, 120; Norris, 115; Leist, 105; Mitchell, 86; Pull, 78
Next round: Oulton Park (6-7 June)
Indy Lights – Round 4/10 – Indianapolis GP, United States
Jack Harvey gets long-awaited first win of the season in race one and is just four points off championship leader Ed Jones, who has pole for race two but is spun around by Harvey, whose car then fails on the last lap. After his double win at Barber, Spencer Pigot slips behind both with a poor weekend while newcomer Sean Rayhall impresses and wins race two.
Race 1: 1 Harvey; 2 Rayhall; 3 Jones; 4 Chilton; 5 Enerson; 6 Anderson
Race 2: 1 Rayhall; 2 Enerson; 3 Chilton; 4 Jones, 5 Harvey; 6 Kaiser
Standings: Jones, 166; Harvey, 162; Pigot, 155; Chilton, 126; Enerson, 117; Serralles, 100
Next round: Indianapolis oval (22 May)
Pro Mazda – Round 4/9 – Indianapolis GP, United States
Santiago Urrutia takes the standings lead with victory in the final race of a triple-header. Weiron Tan wins the first race – postponed from NOLA due to weather – while Timothe Buret gets his maiden victory in race two and two other podium finishes. After a race one podium, two poor results cost Neil Alberico his points lead.
Race 1: 1 Tan; 2 Buret; 3 Alberico; 4 Urrutia; 5 Grist; 6 O’Ward
Race 2: 1 Buret; 2 Latorre; 3 Urrutia; 4 Tan; 5 Franzoni; 6 Grist
Race 3: 1 Urrutia; 2 Owen; 3 Buret; 4 Gutierrez; 5 O’Ward; 6 Latorre
Standings: Urrutia, 194; Alberico, 170; Buret, 153; Tan, 122; O?Ward, 120; Latorre, 119
Next round: Lucas Oil Raceway, Indianapolis (23 May)
USF2000 – 4/8 – Indianapolis GP, United States
Nico Jamin takes the USF2000 lead by winning both races. Erstwhile leader Jake Eidson finishes second in race one but suffers front wing damage in race two, leaving him back in 12th and halting his run of podiums. Aaron Telitz is third and then second to remain in the mix.
Race 1: 1 Jamin; 2 Eidson; 3 Telitz; 4 Martin; 5 Gabin; 6 Agren
Race 2: 1 Jamin; 2 Telitz; 3 Martin; 4 Gabin; 5 Luo; 6 Thompson
Standings: Jamin, 204; Eidson, 186; Telitz, 180; Martin, 145; Thompson, 110; Franzoni, 98
Next round: Lucas Oil Raceway, Indianapolis (23 May)
Japanese F3 – Round 2/8 – Motegi, Japan
After their Suzuka collision had left them trailing Mitsunori Takaboshi, Toyota-powered TOM’s drivers Kenta Yamashita and Nick Cassidy come to the fore at Motegi. Cassidy passes his team-mate on lap one to get his second win in race one, before Yamashita takes his first two wins and moves a point clear in the standings.
Race 1: 1 Cassidy; 2 Yamashita; 3 Takaboshi; 4 Fukuzumi; 5 Takahashi; 6 Ordonez
Race 2: 1 Yamashita; 2 Takaboshi; 3 Cassidy; 4 Fukuzumi; 5 Takahashi; 6 Ordonez
Race 3: 1 Yamashita; 2 Fukuzumi; 3 Cassidy; 4 Takaboshi; 5 Takahashi; 6 Ordonez
Standings: Yamashita, 35; Cassidy, 34; Takaboshi, 34; Fukuzumi, 15; Takahashi, 14; Ishikawa/Ordonez, 8
Next round: Okayama (23-24 May)
Formula Renault 1.6 Nordic – Round 1/7 – Skovde, Sweden
Third-year FR1.6 racer?Oliver Soderstrom wins both races at the opening round. Ilmari Korpivaara is twice second, while Robert Svensson and Laurents Horr complete the podiums.
Race 1: 1 Soderstrom; 2 Korpivaara; 3 Svensson; 4 Blomqvist; 5 Horr; 6 Puhakka
Race 2: 1 Soderstrom; 2 Korpivaara; 3 Horr; 4 Lundqvist; 5 Puhakka; 6 Tjader
Standings: Soderstrom, 51; Korpivaara, 37; Horr, 26; Puhakka, 18; Lundqvist, 17; Svensson, 15
Next round: Anderstorp (30-31 May)
Formula Ford Denmark – Round 2/8 – Ring Djursland, Denmark
After an ADAC F4 deal fell through, reigning champion Frederik Schandorff returns to the series and wins all three races. Younger brother Christian Schandorff takes the standings lead at the expense of Mathias Weinrich Smith, who retires from race two due to a faulty clutch.
Race 1: 1 F. Schandorff; 2 Smith; 3 C. Schandorff; 4 Larsen; 5 S. Mortensen; 6 Christiansen
Race 2: 1 F. Schandorff; 2 C. Schandorff; 3 Larsen; 4 Hoe; 5 Christiansen; 6 Rytter
Race 3: 1 F. Schandorff; 2 Larsen; 3 Smith; 4 C. Schandorff; 5 Christiansen; 6 Hoe
Standings: C. Schandorff, 106; Smith, 101; F. Schandorff, 75; Larsen, 71; Rytter, 52; Christiansen, 43
Next round: Spa-Francorchamps (6-7 June)