Sunday, May 13, 2012

Discovering GP3 - succession planning in action

This weekend is the first for as long as I can remember that we've not had something on, whether lib demmery,  election preparation, trips away to Cardiff to see Doctor Who or my sister's wedding. So, there is no guilt at all in immersing myself in motorsport.

F1 is in Spain this weekend, taking over the Circuit de Catalunya. One good thing about the Infernal Wickedness of Sky Plus is that it also shows the two F1 feeder series, GP2 and GP3.This is where the F1 drivers of the future are likely to come from.It's succession planning in front of our eyes. I am currently watching the second GP2 race, but haven't had the chance to see the rest of the event so I have no idea who anybody is.

GP3 has space for 30 cars, and 10 teams, but there are currently 9 teams, one of which, Trident, is only running 2 cars. What's interesting is that, unlike F1, each driver has exactly the same car. They have a half hour qualifying, done in the old fashioned way - whoever sets the fastest time is on pole. There are two 16 lap races, one on Saturday afternoon, the other on Sunday morning.

The grid for the second race is a reverse grid for the top 8 point scorers from race 1 - ie, if you finish first, you start 8th. Anyone finishing below these positions starts in the same position they finished race 1 in.

What's interesting for me is that there are 3 women competing, Vicky Piria for Trident, Carmen Jorda for Ocean and Britain's Alice Powell for Status. Alice didn't have a great day yesterday, finishing 25th, but she made up for it today, battling through the field to get into 11th place. She also showed some pretty impressive defensive driving to hold off Kevin Ceccon for a while

The Carlin team also has Alex Brundle, son of the Almighty Martin, making his GP3 debut. He's done well, qualifying 12th and finishing 10th yesterday and working his way up to 8th today. In this morning's race, he'd had a wee bit of a bump in the first lap and had to nurse a slightly damaged car home. Getting points in both races is an excellent start.

Each race saw two drivers with drive through penalties for jumping the start - unfortunately for them, three were in leading positions. Both races saw excellent wheel to wheel racing with some good passes and defensive driving. Will Buller of Carlin's tyres were in a terrible condition yet he managed to hold off Kevin Ceccon.

Yesterday's race was won by Mitch Evans, a New Zealander with MW Arden. I suddenly became very interested in this team when I discovered what MW stood for - this is a joint venture between Arden owner (and F1 Red Bull team principal) Christian Horner and none other than one of my favourite F1 drivers Mark Webber.  Poor Mitch had bad luck today, though, finishing 20th after having to visit the pits to change a puncture.

 Will Buxton provided lively and informative commentary on the World Feed - very useful for a new viewer.

GP3 races take place at all the European F1 races, so I'm looking forward to the rest of the season.

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