At Silverstone this afternoon Jon Lancaster (Fortec Motorsport) made life relatively easy for Esteban Guerrieri (ISR), despite qualifying on pole for the latest race of the World Series by Renault championship. The Fortec driver basically handed...
At Silverstone this afternoon Jon Lancaster (Fortec Motorsport) made life relatively easy for Esteban Guerrieri (ISR), despite qualifying on pole for the latest race of the World Series by Renault championship. The Fortec driver basically handed the lead to Guerrieri when he made a poor start then jinked towards the Argentinean as they headed towards Copse for the first time. Guerrieri quite rightly declined to back off, Lancaster swerved, and side-swiped Daniel Ricciardo (Tech 1 Racing), launching the Australian into a roll that saw bits of his car distributed over a wide area of grass. Ricciardo was unhurt but his race was over, while Lancaster limped round to the pits for a new nose. The main beneficiary of Lancaster outbreak of idiocy was rookie (and newly crowned British F3 International Series champion) Jean-Eric Vergne (Tech 1 Racing), JEV emerging unscathed from the chaos to stake a claim on 2nd and give Guerrieri a very hard time all the way to the flag.
There had been drama even before that, however, with Daniel Zampieri (Pons Racing) being excluded from the race for an argument at the end of qualifying. Zampieri considered that Filip Salaquarda (ISR) had impeded him on a fast lap and went round to ISR to complain. Once there he became involved in a difference of opinion with Igor Salaquarda, father of Filip and also team boss of ISR. Once everyone calmed down Zampieri was excluded from this afternoon's race, while Salaquarda senior was excluded from the circuit for the weekend, and fined 2,000 Euros. Afterwards, Zampieri was less than happy but remained tight-lipped on the subject: "I don't really want to talk about the exclusion, but the marshals on the scene backed up my version of events." So then there were 23.
After the chaos at the start Guerrieri settled into the lead, with Vergne lurking in his mirrors, while behind them, Nathanael Berthon (International Draco Racing) was 3rd, ahead of Albert Costa (Epsilon- Euskadi), Brendon Hartley (P1 Motorsport), Nelson Panciatici (Junior Lotus Racing), Stefano Coletti (Comtec Racing), Salaquarda, Sten Pentus (Fortec Motorsport) and Carlin's Mikhail Aleshin.
Further back, in the other Comtec Racing car, Greg Mansell was attempting to make up for being asleep on the warm up lap and was all over Daniil Move (Junior Lotus Racing) in an effort to make up ground. Meanwhile Sergio Canamasas (Interwetten.com) was in the pits from almost last having clearly had a very grassy moment somewhere. While Guerrieri set the first fastest lap of the race as he worked to keep Vergne at bay, behind the now fast disappearing lead duo Berthon had Costa and Hartley all over him for 3rd. It looked as if it might get quite exciting but perhaps not... Other people though were having an exciting time, both Bruno Mendez (Interwetten.com) and Jake Rosenzweig (Carlin) needing to pit, the latter to have debris removed from the side-pods before the engine overheated to the point of no return. He soon rejoined, as did Mendez, though the Spaniard would soon be out of the race. He wasn't alone, as by this point Walter Grubmuller (P1 Motorsport) had gone missing from the order too and was sitting in the pits while the team worked on the car. He had started from last anyway after receiving a push start from marshals during the qualifying session that meant his times had to be disallowed, and this afternoon simply compounded his misery.
Meanwhile Lancaster had returned to the fray, and despite being a long way distant, was busy setting new lap records as he tried to undo the damage his impetuosity had done to his chances of a good finish; the fact that the Englishman was last but one would have been small comfort to Ricciardo, who could be seen returning on foot to his garage with a face like thunder. Even the message requesting that Lancaster should report to the race stewards immediately after the event finished would be poor consolation. The only redeeming feature was probably that Aleshin, who is fighting Ricciardo for the series title this year, was also not having the best of afternoons, and was back in 10th, having trouble holding off Anton Nebylitskiy (KMP Racing) and Victor Garcia (also of KMP).
At the front Guerrieri and Vergne were busy playing cat and mouse with first one then the other going faster. Vergne would catch up, at one point clawing back half a second on a single lap, but Guerrieri would respond and open the gap back up again. In the twistier sections the Frenchman clearly had the edge, but then Guerrieri would pull away on the straights, and no matter how hard Vergne tried to pressure him into making a mistake, it just wasn't happening. Nothing daunted, Vergne took a look up the inside into Luffield only to have the door politely but very firmly closed on him.
Behind them, though, the battle for 3rd was intensifying and was about to go pear-shaped. Costa took a good look at Berthon, but couldn't do anything initially, especially as he needed to hold off Hartley too. A lap later and he tried again, and that was when it all fell apart for Berthon and Hartley. Costa was through while the other two clashed, Hartley going no further while Berthon limped to the pits and into retirement. He was followed in by Mendez, who was also now out of the race for keeps. The upshot was that Costa was now 3rd and Panciatici was 4th, though he wasn't looking comfortable, not with Coletti, Salaquarda and Aleshin seemingly all looking to overtake at the same time. Luckily for him, they all thought better of it and backed off, but it had been quite a hairy moment.
The retirements continued too, thinning the field out considerably. Pentus, despite the presence of a massive fan club banner in the grandstands, was in trouble and eventually pitted out of contention, and he was joined quite soon afterwards by Julian Leal (International Draco Racing), which left 17 cars still circulating with two thirds of the race run.
Meanwhile, Coletti dropped back from Panciatici to give himself room to make a dive at him a lap later, squeezing through to snatch 4th as the race moved towards its end. Panciatici was left to try and hold off Salaquarda, Aleshin and Nebylitskiy which might have been one challenger less but wasn't easy. Coletti meanwhile was locking his wheels and sliding about as he put the power down in pursuit of Costa, the Spaniard a good 6 seconds ahead at this stage and having a very quiet time of it now. And really, that was it for excitement, although Move was still holding off Mansell and Leo for 10th, neither of his pursuers quite able to find a way past no matter what they tried. There really wasn't enough time left and no one really seemed too inclined to make a dive for it, even when Keisuke Kunimoto (Epsilon-Euskadi) joined in, the latter having a difficult afternoon and simply wanting to keep out there for the full race distance if he could.
And so, despite a heavy crash in practice, Guerrieri came home to a well-earned victory, ahead of the first rookie, Vergne, the latter putting in an impressive performance. Costa was 3rd from Coletti, Panciatici, Salaquarda, Aleshin (whose championship lead increased as a result), Nebylitskiy, Garcia and Move. Mansell was 11th from Leo, Kunimoto, Lancaster, Rosenzweig and Pentus.
Weather: Fine, sunny.
Update: Guerrieri has been disqualified from the resuls of today's World Series by Renault race at Silverstone after another team protested his car. After a heavy crash in qualifying this morning, the ISR team worked flat out to repair the car, and it seems that at some point someone on the team had no option but to use tape instead of the mandatory pins to join the nose box and the bodywork covering the dampers back together when the pins could not be used because of the damage.
Guerrieri was understandably utterly furious afterwards, insisting that he would be looking at footage of the start to see if the tape was there then: "We don't know who put it on the car, but after I had a crash this morning someone put a small strip of tape over a join between the nosebox and the bodywork covering the suspension. There should have been pins, but because of the accident this morning it was broken"
This was deemed to be a technical infringement and the Argentinean was thrown out of the results, handing victory to Jean-Eric Vergne (Tech 1), the rookie's first win in the category. Albert Costa is thus 2nd from Stefano Coletti.