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20/03/2016 2016 Australian Grand Prix Review

Older stories here

Bahrain GP2 2013

 

The Bahrain weekend was heralded once more in the western media by controversy and calls to cancel it. For the second year running the motorsport circus rose above the politics and took to the track.

Fabio Leimer headed the field in the desert by almost a second from Marcus Ericsson. Felipe Nasr lined up 3rd alongside Coletti, with Dillmann and Richelmi taking 5th and 6th respectively. Alex Rossi took 7th in his first 2013 Caterham outing to qualify alongside 8th-placed Adrian Quaife-Hobbs. Sam Bird and Robin Frijns rounded out the top ten. James Calado qualified 11th but was demoted ten places for his crash back in Malaysia, leaving him 21st. This promoted Trummer to 11th alongside Palmer, with Cecotto and Abt on row 7. Canamasas and Giovesi were promoted to row 8, although both were penalised. Canamasas was removed from qualifying outright for a “deliberate change of direction”. This promoted Giovesi to 15th, before he too was demoted to 18th for blocking Cecotto on his flying lap. This left Evans, Ceccon and Leal to assume 15th through to 17th ahead of him. Binder and Rosenzweig rounded out the top 20. Berthon was promoted one place to 22nd alongside the penalised Calado. Row 12 was covered by Varhaug and Haryanto, while De Jong sat 25th alongside Canamasas.

Ericsson's front-row start fell apart when he stalled on the feature race grid, his DAMS being forced to start from the pit lane instead. On the track, nine drivers started on the harder Pirelli rubber: Quaife-Hobbs, Leal, Dillmann, Giovesi, Binder, Evans, Cecotto, Abt and Calado.

Bird managed a monumental start to jump to 3rd place. Rossi also did well, rising to 5th position. Coletti and Leimer however were in a world of their own fighting for the lead.

Palmer managed to jump Rossi for 5th, just about fending off a comeback bid a few corners later. De Jong pulled into the pits with a very slow MP car. Unsurprisingly, his race was run after a single lap.

Canamasas earned another investigation for forcing a driver off the track, this time Calado playing the role of victim.

Varhaug became the second retirement, parking his Hilmer behind the F1 Parc Ferme.

Richelmi pitted to switch to hards, not even letting the softer tyres hit the cliff. Meanwhile Canamasas was handed a drive-through penalty.

Rossi pitted at the end of the seventh lap, while his teammate served his penalty. The lead Caterham remained ahead of Richelmi. Frijns and Palmer pitted a lap later, both with a clean stop. Rossi managed to re-take the position he had earlier lost to Palmer. Further forward the battle between Nasr and Bird had reached a critical phase, with Nasr all over the tail of Bird. Unfortunately Sam's stop proved disastrous, although Nasr had an even worse stop. Both drivers fell all the way behind Richelmi, however.

As more stops were made, Rossi closed on Coletti in the fight for a net 2nd place. Just in front of the real leader, the Addax cars were battling for a few metres of tarmac.

Nasr managed to overtake Bird, setting his sights on Richelmi's DAMS. Meanwhile Berthon went under investigation for speeding in the pit lane – generally an open/shut case resulting in a drive-through penalty. This time was no exception.

Nasr and Bird both managed to clear Richelmi in close succession, almost leaving the DAMS standing. Net leader Leimer was able to clear the Addax of Rosenzweig, followed by Coletti and Rossi. Palmer followed them through.

Abt pitted just beyond the halfway mark, followed a lap later by Dillmann who switched to soft tyres for the remaining 14 laps.

Coletti managed to clear Giovesi as Mitch Evans started backing the yet-to-pit pack. Giovesi and Leal pitted at the end of the lap, while Binder was overtaken by Leimer. In the pits, Leal stalled the other Racing Engineering car.

Quaife-Hobbs pitted with 12 laps remaining, dropping well out of contention for the win. Meanwhile Richelmi and Frijns made contact, the former suffering a puncture while the rookie lost his front wing. Richelmi's race was finished by the contact.

Having recovered from stalling in the pits, Leal was then handed a penalty for speeding in the pit lane. While Leimer led, his teammate's race was going from bad to worse.

Dillmann took 8th from Rosenzweig, crucially taking himself into a position for the reverse grid pole position. Quaife-Hobbs took 9th, then 8th almost immediately from Dillmann.

Evans and Binder were put under investigation for contact in the 4th corner, while Frijns and Richelmi were investigated for their crash which appeared at face value to be nothing more than an over-zealous move from the rookie. Binder was given a drive-through penalty for forcing Evans off the track. As it turned out the incident made no difference to the Arden driver's race as the car coasted to a sudden halt with 7 laps to go. Frijns was given the same penalty, although it made no difference given he was already running in last place.

Quaife-Hobbs cleared Trummer for 7th with 4 laps to go. Dillmann tried to follow while Trummer tried returning the favour against Quaife-Hobbs. Dillmann made the move for 8th place a few corners later.

Nasr cleared Palmer for 4th place, giving Rossi even more of a cushion in 3rd as the Carlins continued their intra-team battle.

Leimer won from Coletti, Rossi – putting in a brilliant rookie drive – Nasr, Palmer, Bird, Quaife-Hobbs, Dillmann, Trummer and Cecotto. Beyond the points were Ceccon, Calado, Ericsson, Abt, Haryanto, Rosenzweig, Berthon, Binder, Leal, Canamasas, Frijns and Giovesi. Evans, Richelmi, Varhaug and De Jong failed to finish.

Where the first start was fairly clean, the sprint race saw a more typical GP2 start with both Haryanto and Rossi losing their front wings amid collisions in the first corner. At the end of the first lap Sam Bird cleared Dillmann. His teammate tried to switch the order back again but lost out, subsequently being overtaken by Stefano Coletti. Further back Leimer was already running 6th ahead of Calado and Palmer.

Nasr took 3rd from Dillmann on lap 3, the Russian Time driver starting to struggle.

Replays showed Leimer's car was partly responsible for Rossi's damage, the Caterham oversteering in the first corner and tagging the Racing Engineering's sidepod, forcing Ericsson to brake harder than normal and Haryanto went straight into the back of his Addax.

At the back De Jong managed to clear Leal in a hard but clean move. Evans took advantage and followed the MP through.

Bird was holding a steady lead over Coletti, Nasr, Dillmann, Quaife-Hobbs, Leimer, Palmer and Calado, Abt and Cecotto as the leaders started lap 8, while Ericsson retired his DAMS.

Evans took 18th from Berthon, inadvertently preventing Leal from following him through with his defensive driving.

Canamasas cleared Trummer and shortly after Rosenzweig also. Trummer followed the Caterham through a couple of corners later.

Frijns was holding up Richelmi, Evans and Leal. The 16th lap saw Frijns drop from 15th to 18th in effectively a single move as his tyres seemed to be shot.

Cecotto lost out briefly to Ceccon but the order was reversed when Ceccon ran wide. Canamasas and Trummer closed on them.

Palmer cleared Leimer's damaged car for 6th, followed closely by Calado taking 7th. It's not often Leimer goes backwards, but his tentative look past Quaife-Hobbs exposed him.

Interestingly, Alex Rossi was running a second a lap faster than the front-runners, although being one lap down he was out of contention for points. Meanwhile Abt almost cleared Leimer, not easing the pressure on the championship favourite.

Calado stole 6th from Palmer while Bird, Coletti and Nasr closed on one another as they headed for the final lap. Coletti ran wide with one lap to go and dropped to 3rd place. In the next battle down the road Calado jumped to 5th.

Sam Bird won for Russian Time by only 0.08 seconds – the closest finish in GP2 history – from Nasr and Coletti. Dillmann took a lonely 4th, followed by Calado, Quaife-Hobbs, Palmer, Abt, Leimer and Ceccon. Outside the top ten were Canamasas, Cecotto, Richelmi, Trummer, Evans, Leal, Giovesi, De Jong, Rosenzweig, Rossi, Varhaug, Berthon, Frijns, Haryanto and Binder. Ericsson was the only driver to retire.

Coletti took the championship lead this weekend from Leimer by some 10 points, while Bird jumped to 4th place some 31 points off the lead.



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