After a months break, Lotus GP secured another two podium finishes in round ten of the 2012 GP2 Championship season, which was held at the legendary Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium this weekend.
After qualifying second and third on the grid in very wet and chaotic conditions, James Calado and Esteban Gutierrez the two Lotus drivers looked forward to the challenges of the Belgian track, however, neither expected the chaos that ensued.
In contrast to Fridays running, the sun was shining for race one, and after running side by side, Gutierrez made a move on his teammate, however yellow flags were waving at the bottom of the hill, that were not evident at the start of his maneuvre.
Even though Lotus GP had agreement from the race director for Esteban to give the position back to James, he was still handed a drive through penalty. Added to this, Esteban lost even more ground when he had to queue behind James in the pits for their compulsory stops made under safety car conditions.
Despite the drama, Calado raced on to finish on the second step of the rostrum. This is the 7th podium of his rookie season, his 3rd in 5 races. The flood of misfortune put Esteban at the back of the field and he eventually fought his way back to 11th place. Race two was more of the same for Calado when, after starting seventh on the reverse grid, he crossed the line in third place.
Second was firmly in his sights when after a brilliant start, he survived an incident with Luiz Razia and drove a brilliant race all the way to the final lap. However, in the final meters, Felipe Nasr roared past him to snatch second place! Meanwhile, Esteban Gutiérrez focused all his grit and determination to make up for Saturday and sliced his way through the field from 11th to 8th, however, his good run was short lived after a coming together with Julian Leal left them both in a spin.
He eventually crossed the line in 13th place. With two races remaining in the season, James Calado sits third in the drivers championship with 160 points while Esteban Gutiérrez is ten points behind in fourth overall. Lotus GP goes into the penultimate round in first place in the teams standings with a twenty one point lead over their nearest rival.
Esteban Gutiérrez: "The feature race was very tough in many ways and the final result is certainly not what we expected as it did not reflect Lotus GPs, the cars and my own potential. At the start I had to avoid contact and was pushed to the outside of the track. I was still P3 after the first corner and the car was balanced and fast, so it was looking quite good. But then I lost time at the pit stop when I had to wait behind James after I was given a drive- through penalty.
On Sunday, I managed to avoid all the accidents one way or the other and I enjoyed some nice overtaking moves to get into fifth. Then I took the fight to Leal and I was certainly too impatient. It was a risky move, but I needed to get past if I was going to take care of my tyres and get onto the podium. It didnt pay off.
Spa never seems to go smoothly for me, but I will learn from this and push for a good result in Monza next weekend.
James Calado: It was my first time round in the dry in Spa-Franrochamps in this car so I was a bit iffy at the start. I was braking a bit too early and wasn't full through Eau Rouge for the first few laps.
So Marcus overtook me going into the last chicane, quite easily actually. Even so, we scored some good points and it's nice to be on the podium. My tyres were gone at the end of the sprint race and there was nothing I could do to prevent Felipe Nasr getting past me. Two podiums in the same weekend was a great reward and Im all geared up for the final round in Monza where I will do my best to get the win this time."
Frédéric Vasseur: Despite the extremely complex conditions, our performance level was awesome in qualifying and we had great expectations for the race. Unfortunately, things did not always go our way. The Penalty of Esteban determined his weekend, and this result certainly does not give justice to his talent. James has been a fabulous opportunist and secured two well-deserved podiums.
Source: ART Grand Prix