Coletti leads championship after opening round

GP2 Malaysia review

Stefano Coletti, GP2, Sepang, 2013Stefano Coletti couldn’t convert pole position for the first race of the GP2 season into victory.

Fabio Leimer beat him to the top step. But Coletti bounced back in the sprint race, taking the win and fastest lap to claim the early championship lead.

James Calado recovered from a poor start in the first race to claim second but carries a penalty into the next round of the championship following a first-lap crash in the sprint race.

After top four finishes in both races Felipe Nasr holds third in the championship points behind Leimer.

Qualifying results

Pos Driver Team Time Gap Grid
1 Stefano Coletti Rapax 1’44.280 1
2 James Calado ART Grand Prix 1’44.284 +0.004 2
3 Felipe Nasr Carlin 1’44.288 +0.008 3
4 Fabio Leimer Racing Engineering 1’44.463 +0.183 4
5 Sam Bird Russian Time 1’44.598 +0.318 8
6 Mitch Evans Arden International 1’44.618 +0.338 5
7 Rio Haryanto Barwa Addax Team 1’44.681 +0.401 6
8 Rene Binder Venezuela GP Lazarus 1’44.687 +0.407 7
9 Simon Trummer Rapax 1’44.692 +0.412 9
10 Tom Dillmann Russian Time 1’44.731 +0.451 10
11 Julian Leal Racing Engineering 1’44.732 +0.452 11
12 Sergio Canamasas Caterham Racing 1’44.761 +0.481 12
13 Marcus Ericsson DAMS 1’44.766 +0.486 13
14 Johnny Cecotto Arden International 1’44.788 +0.508 26
15 Adrian Quaife-Hobbs MP Motorsport 1’45.191 +0.911 14
16 Stephane Richelmi DAMS 1’45.262 +0.982 15
17 Conor Daly Hilmer Motorsport 1’45.289 +1.009 16
18 Nathanael Berthon Trident Racing 1’45.378 +1.098 17
19 Kevin Ceccon Trident Racing 1’45.491 +1.211 18
20 Ma Qinghua Caterham Racing 1’45.497 +1.217 19
21 Daniel de Jong MP Motorsport 1’45.522 +1.242 20
22 Daniel Abt ART Grand Prix 1’45.593 +1.313 21
23 Jolyon Palmer Carlin 1’45.662 +1.382 22
24 Jake Rosenzweig Barwa Addax Team 1’45.708 +1.428 23
25 Pal Varhaug Hilmer Motorsport 1’45.830 +1.550 24
26 Kevin Giovesi Venezuela GP Lazarus 1’45.985 +1.705 25

Feature Race

Calado struggles and Leimer flies from the start

Feature race start, GP2, Sepang, 2013Calado made a poor getaway at the start and was gobbled up by the faster starting Nasr and Leimer behind. Leimer challenged Coletti for the lead into turn one but the Rapax driver held position as Calado fought his way back past Nasr.

Meanwhile Mitch Evans made a superb start on his GP2 debut, moving up to fifth and then demoting Calado as well. But at turn nine Marcus Ericsson missed his braking point and ran into Jolyon Palmer, taking himself out of the race.

The MP Motorsport pair were running near the rear of the field on the team’s debut, and it was about to get worse for them. At the end of lap four Adrian Quaife-Hobbs attempted a late lunge up the inside of his team mate Daniel de Jong into the final corner and the pair collided.

While De Jong gyrated Quaife-Hobbs attempted to go around the outside but the pair made contact again – left rear to left rear – eliminating both on the spot.

Bird and Palmer make gains

James Calado, GP2, Sepang, 2013As Leimer applied pressure to Coletti up front the leader began to struggle on his tyres and eventually made his mandatory pit stop on lap six. Evans followed him in having been re-passed by Calado and Nasr. Leimer had now been released and set about posting a string of fastest laps to try and jump Coletti.

Towards the end of lap ten Calado’s team mate Daniel Abt finished early what was proving to be a miserable d??but by spinning off at turn 13 completely on his own and stalling the car.

Leimer and Calado pitted together on lap 11 but despite the former’s best efforts he rejoined behind Coletti. At this point Sam Bird and Jolyon Palmer moved into the lead of the race having started on the harder tyres. The Carlin man was handed the lead however as Bird – along with a number of other drivers – received penalties for ignoring yellow flags.

Nathanael Berthon was using a similar strategy however a botched pitstop ruined his strategy. The Trident driver rejoined but pulled off the circuit later in the lap.

Coletti loses grip

Fabio Leimer, GP2, Sepang, 2013Palmer eventually pitted for option tyres on lap 21 handing the lead back to Coletti, who now became embroiled in a tense duel with Leimer. As Coletti’s tyres wilted the pair fought for laps until Leimer wrested control of the lead on lap 27.

Due to Coletti’s severe lack of grip Calado also closed and completed demoted him to second a lap later.

Nasr closed quickly on Coletti but just ran out of laps to attempt a move to take the final podium place. Julian Leal finished fifth while Palmer and Bird managed sixth and seventh on their alternate strategies. Stephane Richelmi finished eighth, meaning he took pole for the sprint race, while Simon Trummer and Evans competed the points.

After the race Quaife-Hobbs was handed a twenty-five second time penalty for his collision with his team mate, despite retiring from the race. This meant he would start last on the grid for the sprint race.

Feature race results

Pos Driver Team Time/Lap Retired Grid
1 Fabio Leimer Racing Engineering 57’49.385 4
2 James Calado ART Grand Prix +2.045 2
3 Stefano Coletti Rapax +11.271 1
4 Felipe Nasr Carlin +12.810 3
5 Julian Leal Racing Engineering +28.837 11
6 Jolyon Palmer Carlin +34.209 22
7 Sam Bird Russian Time +41.183 8
8 Stephane Richelmi DAMS +58.941 15
9 Simon Trummer Rapax +1:02.853 9
10 Mitch Evans Arden International +1:13.730 5
11 Rene Binder Venezuela GP Lazarus +1:16.137 7
12 Johnny Cecotto Arden International +1:18.357 26*
13 Conor Daly Hilmer Motorsport +1:20.096 16
14 Tom Dillmann Russian Time +1:21.812 10
15 Pal Varhaug Hilmer Motorsport +1:23.754 24
16 Kevin Giovesi Venezuela GP Lazarus +1:35.775 25
17 Kevin Ceccon Trident Racing +1:37.928 18
18 Jake Rosenzweig Barwa Addax Team +1’43.252 23
19 Sergio Canamasas Caterham Racing +2:00.257 12
20 Rio Haryanto Barwa Addax Team + 1 Lap 6
21 Ma Qinghua Caterham Racing + 1 Lap 19
DNF Nathanael Berthon Trident Racing 20 17
DNF Daniel Abt ART Grand Prix 10 21
DNF Daniel de Jong MP Motorsport 4 20
DNF Adrian Quaife-Hobbs MP Motorsport 4 14
DNF Marcus Ericsson DAMS 1 13

Fastest lap: Sam Bird (Russian Time) ? 1’48.777 (lap 16)

Sprint Race

Ma Qing Hua had battled through Saturday race despite suffering acute food poisoning, but was still unwell on Sunday morning and did not take the start for the Sprint race.

Richelmi made an adequate start from pole but was attacked into turn one by Nasr and Evans. But none of them got away as well as Coletti from sixth place, whose remarkable getaway propelled him into the lead after taking the long way around the first corner.

Calado had another slow start from seventh place and as they approached turn four he clipped Leimer’s rear wheel under braking. Calado’s front wing went under the car and he tobogganed into Leal and Bird – eliminating both. The stewards held Calado responsible and handed him a ten-place grid penalty for Bahrain.

Midfield mistakes

Stefano Coletti, GP2, Sepang, 2013While Coletti and Nasr made their escape Richelmi started to struggle on his tyres in third, allowing Evans to close up. With six laps to go Richelmi locked his tyres and Evans slipped through on the inside to claim the final podium spot.

Having survived his brush with Calado, Leimer was running in a strong sixth position before an error at turn 11 dropped him out of the points.

But there were no such problems for Coletti up front however as he was able to manage his tyres to claim the win ahead of Nasr. Evans took third to claim a podium in his first GP2 weekend from tenth on the grid.

Results

Pos Driver Team Time/Lap Retired Grid
1 Stefano Coletti Rapax 40:49.455 6
2 Felipe Nasr Carlin +0.832 5
3 Mitch Evans Arden International +8.358 10
4 Stephane Richelmi DAMS +11.935 1
5 Johnny Cecotto Arden International +15.874 12
6 Simon Trummer Rapax +17.072 9
7 Conor Daly Hilmer Motorsport +17.479 13
8 Rene Binder Venezuela GP Lazarus +23.726 11
9 Jolyon Palmer Carlin +24.326 3
10 Kevin Giovesi Venezuela GP Lazarus +29.020 16
11 Tom Dillmann Russian Time +30.522 14
12 Fabio Leimer Racing Engineering +30.802 8
13 Marcus Ericsson DAMS +31.342 24
14 Daniel de Jong MP Motorsport +32.391 23
15 Sergio Canamasas Caterham Racing +35.336 19
16 Daniel Abt ART Grand Prix +36.339 22
17 Adrian Quaife-Hobbs MP Motorsport +37.033 25*
18 Rio Haryanto Barwa Addax Team +43.468 20
19 Pal Varhaug Hilmer Motorsport +46.092 15
20 Jake Rosenzweig Barwa Addax Team +51.244 18
21 Nathanael Berthon Trident Racing +53.777 21
22 Kevin Ceccon Trident Racing + 1 Lap 17
Ret Sam Bird Russian Time 1 2
Ret Julian Leal Racing Engineering 1 4
Ret James Calado ART Grand Prix 1 7
DNS Ma Qinghua Caterham Racing DNS

Fastest lap: Stefano Coletti (Rapax) ? 1’50.253 (on lap 5)

Drivers’ championship points

With a pole position, fastest lap, win and a third place, Coletti leads the championship from Leimer by eleven points. Rapax lead the teams standings by seven points from Racing Engineering.

Pos Driver Points
1 Stefano Coletti 36
2 Fabio Leimer 25
3 Felipe Nasr 24
4 James Calado 18
5 Stephane Richelmi 12
6 Mitch Evans 11
7 Julian Leal 10
8 Jolyon Palmer 8
9 Sam Bird 8
10 Johnny Cecotto 6
11 Simon Trummer 6
12 Conor Daly 2
13 Rene Binder 1

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15 comments on Coletti leads championship after opening round

  1. Puffy (@puffy) said on 26th March 2013, 9:53

    It’s really great to see GP2 getting such good coverage. The races were fantastic to watch, I’m hoping Nasr will really shine this season. And Evans did a great job in his first GP2 weekend.

  2. wsrgo (@wsrgo) said on 26th March 2013, 11:15

    Evans and Ma both suffered from food poisoning??

  3. wsrgo (@wsrgo) said on 26th March 2013, 12:19

    And thanks for the extensive coverage!!!!

  4. d3v0 (@d3v0) said on 26th March 2013, 12:28

    Leimer looked electric in the feature race. A real talent for sure, even though I am a big-time Nasr fan, I was cheering and jumped out of my seat when Leimer did that lionhearted pass on the outside to take the lead. What a race.

    And Cecotto, what an insufferable ****.

  5. Gabriel Fernando (@gabrielfernando) said on 26th March 2013, 15:58

    Go Nasr!!

  6. With @keithcollantine so busy with Formula One stuff, it’s great for me to be able to cover the series that a lot of our next generation of Formula One drivers will come from. I’m also glad you guys enjoy it and I’m hoping to get even more F1 Fanatic’s into GP2 by the end of the season with continued coverage throughout the year.

  7. Iestyn Davies (@fastiesty) said on 26th March 2013, 20:47

    Looks like it’ll be a battle between the top 5 in outright pace – Calado, Nasr, Coletti, Leimer and Bird (with Evans next as best placed rookie), if they can all work at the top of their game and are not unlucky, that is, for the championship.

    Perhaps there is more pace to come from Cecotto Jr (if he can keep his head, a la Pastor), Daly, Dillmann and an off-colour Ericsson. Also, I wonder if GP2 appearing in China (with Ma driving) would be popular there, is it to do with what races are on the support bill? (Or too many travelling costs?) I could see GP2 possibly appearing at 2 more races (China, India).

  8. WilliamB (@william-brierty) said on 26th March 2013, 22:01

    Great to see one of my favourite series getting some decent coverage. Great job, Keith. Getting back to Coletti; I really see his performance as a trivial one. He is so bad on the tyres and Calado is so good on his I really don’t think anyone is stopping James. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not cheering on James out of blind patriotism, I just genuinely think he is the cream of a rather underwhelming 2013 GP2 grid.

  9. Matt Clark (@mattc888) said on 26th March 2013, 22:16

    Loved watching the Malaysian GP2 races and I’m eagerly looking forward to the next round at Bahrain. Was personally stoked by Evan’s debut, but was disappointed by his team-mate’s on track antics with Sam Bird. Coletti, Leimer, Nasr and Palmer all had particularly impressive weekends. How about Calado’s seemingly confused reaction towards Leal after literally bowling him out of the race !! Keep the GP2 updates and reviews coming ;)

  10. thatscienceguy said on 27th March 2013, 9:44

    Mitch Evans man. Keep an eye on this kid, he is some serious talent, and at only 18 years old still has a fair bit of development left in him.

    • Matt (@hollidog) said on 28th March 2013, 2:45

      Youngest ever GP2 podium finisher.

      Not to mention youngest pole sitter, race winner and champion in GP3. On a par with Calado’s debut last year.

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