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Paddock Postcard from Istanbul 30 May 2010

Race winner Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Rapax celebrates in parc ferme. GP2 Series, Rd 3, Race 1, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Saturday 29 May 2010. The podium (L to R): Luiz Razia (BRA) Virgin Racing Test Driver, second; Dani Clos (ESP) Racing Engineering, race winner; Giedo Van der Garde (NDL) Barwa Addax Team, third. GP2 Series, Rd 3, Race 2, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Sunday 30 May 2010. Race winner Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) ART Grand Prix. GP3 Series, Rd 2, Race 1, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Saturday 29 May 2010. The podium (L to R): Miki Monras (ESP) MW Arden, second; Rio Haryanto (INA) Manor Racing, race winner; Alexander Rossi (USA) ART Grand Prix, third. GP3 Series, Rd 2, Race 2, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Sunday 30 May 2010.

After the glitz and glamour of Monaco, in Turkey the paddock focus returned to the on-track action and some thrilling support races to this weekend's Formula One competition. Pastor Maldonado scored a dominant victory for the Rapax team in Saturday’s GP2 feature race, grabbing an immediate lead from slow-starting poleman iSport’s Davide Valsecchi who was left to scrap over second place with Mexico’s Sergio Perez and Briton Sam Bird.

The Venezuelan didn't put a wheel wrong all race, and opened a comfortable margin early on after setting a string of fastest laps.

Briton Oliver Turvey was held up by Valsecchi’s slow getaway, enabling Perez and Bird through and the latter pair gave Valsecchi no peace. Perez got by him after the pits stops but could not hold on to the place and eventually lost third to Bird, who once again demonstrated great potential for ART Grand Prix.

Turvey had one of those days to forget after compounding his problems with a penalty for weaving to protect his place in his iSport car, and another for speeding during the ensuing drive through.

Perez was followed home by his Barwa Addax team mate Giedo van der Garde, with Rapax’s Luiz Razia right behind them in sixth. DPR’s Micahel Herck was seventh from Racing Engineering’s Christian Vietoris, who thus started Sunday's sprint race from pole on the reversed grid.

Victory in that one went to Racing Engineering’s Dani Clos, whose lights-to-flag win was his first in GP2. Razia was an easy second after Vietoris retired with a mechanical problem, with third going to Van der Garde.

In GP3, ART’s Esteban Gutierrez was also dominant after capitalising on a terrible start by polesitter Nigel Melker. He too put in a flurry of fastest laps early on and won the 15-lap race by 10.5 seconds from Briton James Jakes in Manor Racing’s car. Addax Team’s Felipe Guimaraes was a solid third, but besides Mexican Gutierrez the other star of the race was undoubtedly American teenager Alexander Rossi. He finished a brilliant fourth behind Brazilian Guimaraes after starting ninth and making up places with a series of aggressive but clean overtaking moves in the early stages.

Further back, Briton Dean Smith locked into a racelong battle with Status GP’s Daniel Morad, and they continually swapped places until the Canadian came out on top when the Carlin driver’s race was cut short by a fuel pressure problem. Jenzer Motorsport’s Nico Muller, MW Arden’s Miki Monras and Manor Racing’s Rio Haryanto completed the top eight, the latter doing an impressive job of working his way up from 16th. He will start on pole for Sunday’s race. Melker’s race went from bad to worse as he was adjudged a drive-through penalty for starting out of his grid box. The Dutch RSC Mucke driver eventually finished 23rd.

On Sunday, Haryanto confidently converted his pole into victory, winning from Monras by 2.2s, with Rossi completing the podium.