2011 GP3 Series runner-up James Calado has again proven today that he has adapted quickly and strongly to the GP2/11 car. The British sensation took a lights-to-flag maiden GP2 Series win in the first Sprint Race of the 2012 season in Malaysia. Starting from pole position, he controlled the rest of the race keeping his teammate Esteban Gutiérrez at bay and preserving his tyres until the chequered flag. In third, rookie Felipe Nasr scored his first GP2 podium.
When the lights went out in scorching temperatures, Calado and Gutiérrez made perfect gateways and both men were side by side at the entrance of Turn 1. The Brit however managed to keep the lead. Further behind, Nasr also made a great start and chose to take the outside of Turn 1 to pass Stefano Coletti. The Monegasque driver tried to regain his position a couple of corners later but went too wide and dropped to P9 behind Davide Valsecchi, but would pass the Italian and Luiz Razia before the end of Lap 1 to fight his way back to sixth.
At the front, Calado was busy trying to stay ahead of Gutiérrez with Nasr, Giedo van der Garde and Fabio Leimer in tow. On Lap 13, Valsecchi tried to make a move on Razia but went too wide and off the track. When he rejoined, Marcus Ericsson clipped the back of the DAMS car that went barrel-rolling at Turn 5. Both drivers got out of their cars and the track was rapidly cleared.
By then, Calado was 1.5s ahead of Gutiérrez, with the top five positions unchanged. The battle for P6 intensified between Razia, Coletti, Max Chilton and Nathanaël Berthon. As Razia lost a position to Coletti, Chilton tried to sneak in only to go too wide and rejoined behind Berthon. Yesterday’s race winner fought back and passed Coletti in the final corner on lap 17. Coletti, visibly struggling on his tyres, could not fend off the attack of Berthon whilst Chilton made his way back to the battling duo and passed them both for P8.
The fight continued on the following lap and it ended in tears for Coletti who could not match his rivals’ pace having to let Chilton and Berthon through. Meanwhile, Razia zoomed in on Leimer and overtook the Swiss for P5 again in the final corner. At the chequered flag, Calado crossed the finish line 2s ahead of Gutiérrez. Nasr in third finished 7s ahead of van der Garde. Razia, Leimer, Chilton and Berthon pocketed the final points.
Razia is now leading the Series on 31 points, seven more than Valsecchi. Today’s race winner Calado is third, one point ahead of teammate Gutiérrez and Nasr.
Sepang– Sprint race
|1.||James Calado||Lotus GP|
|2.||Esteban Gutiérrez||Lotus GP|
|4.||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham Racing|
|5.||Luiz Razia||Arden International|
|6.||Fabio Leimer||Racing Engineering|
|8.||Nathanaël Berthon||Racing Engineering|
|9.||Josef Kral||Barwa Addax Team|
|12.||Jolyon Palmer||iSport International|
|13.||Fabio Onidi||Scuderia Coloni|
|14.||Nigel Melker||Ocean Racing Technology|
|15.||Julian Leal||Trident Racing|
|16.||Simon Trummer||Arden International|
|17.||Jon Lancaster||Ocean Racing Technology|
|18.||Rodolfo Gonzalez||Caterham Racing|
|19.||Stéphane Richelmi||Trident Racing|
|20.||Giancarlo Serenelli||Venezuela GP Lazarus|
|21.||Fabrizio Crestani||Venezuela GP Lazarus|
|22.||Johnny Cecotto||Barwa Addax Team|
|23.||Stefano Coletti||Scuderia Coloni|
|Marcus Ericsson||iSport International|
Fastest Lap : Fabrizio Crestani (Venezuela GP Lazarus) – 1:50.690 on lap 8