Paddock Postcard from Valencia 27 Jun 2010
Valencia marks the 500th race for the Lotus marque, as Lotus Racing team principal Tony Fernandes celebrated in style as Clive Chapman, son of Colin, and his family attended the race as his guests and brought the original F1 Lotus - the 12 - to partner the T127s. Both of the new cars bore 500th race logos, and at a dinner for team friends on Saturday night Fernandes again made it clear how faithfully he intends to carry Colin Chapmans flame.
As Carlos Sainz and Ralf Schumacher made appearances in the paddock, the on-track action saw Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado overcame a strong start by polesitter Sergio Perez and a surprise challenge at the restart (necessitated after two accidents on the opening lap accounted for nine runners) to dominate the GP2 feature race en route to his second victory of the year for Rapax, ahead of ART duo Jules Bianchi (who led at one stage) and Sam Bird.
Giedo van der Garde was fourth for Barwa Addax Team, ahead of Dani Clos (Racing Engineering) and a race-long battle between Charles Pic (Arden International), Marcus Ericsson (Super Nova Racing) and Michael Herck (DPR). Sunday's sprint race saw Swede Marcus Ericsson take his first series win from polesitter Van der Garde. However, Ericsson's victory for Super Nova was overshadowed by a frightening crash for team mate Josef Kral, who was taken to hospital with reported back pain.
ART were victorious in Saturday's GP3 encounter, as Mexican Esteban Gutiérrez took an easy victory to boost his series lead to 16 points. Behind him there was more chaos when RSC Mucke Motorsports Nigel Melker became involved in an incident in the first corner with Addax Teams Felipe Guimaraes. Further incidents on the opening lap saw five more race casualties including ARTs Alexander Rossi.
Michael Christensen made a strong start to pressure Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne for third place, but pushed too hard on the fourth lap and paid the price of contact with the wall. Gutiérrezs series of fastest laps drew him clear of Status GPs Rob Wickens and Atechs Robert Mehri, who passed Vergne. Wickens runner-up position moved him to second place in the title chase with 19 points, two ahead of Rossi.
In Formula BMW, Britains Jack Harvey won the first race from pole for Fortec as he pleased, from DAMS Fahmi Ilyas and his team-mate Javier Tarancon. Dutch hotshoe Robin Frijns efforts to win backfired after some determined early moves and the Josef Kaufman Racing driver had to be content with fifth place behind Fortecs George Katsinis. Facu Regalia was sixth for Eifelland Racing ahead of leading rookie Carlos Sainz Jnr. Harvey repeated his triumph in Sunday mornings race, from Frijns, Ilyas and Tarancon.