James Calado goes into this coming weekend’s German round of the GP2 series with a ten-place grid penalty for the Feature Race after being found guilty of causing a collision with Max Chilton at the last round in Great Britain.
In the Sprint Race at Silverstone, Calado and Chilton spent the race moving towards each other from opposite ends of the starting grid.While running tenth on the penultimate lap, Calado had a much better run than Chilton out of Copse corner and drew partly alongside on the way into Maggotts. On the exit of the corner, the cars touched, causing both to spin out of the race.
It was an ambitious move from Calado, which almost succeeded due to the awareness of Chilton, who allowed Calado just enough room make it through the corner on track. The contact was unfortunate, but was it really enough to earn a grid penalty for Calado?
GP2 is the primary feeder series for Formula One, which means that these drivers could find themselves at the pinnacle of motorsport a year or two from now. With that in mind, it seems logical that they should be encouraged to race each other to the limit, in order to provide the most entertaining and competitive racing possible. In this case, the move was unlikely to succeed, but it displayed opportunism and good aggression. Those are desirable qualities in a racing driver. Calado would have done better to stay as close as possible to Chilton through Chapel corner and attempt a pass into Stowe, but it is easy to come to that conclusion with the benefit of hindsight. In the race, he saw an opportunity and went for it, and it didn’t work out.
If anyone is to blame, it is Calado, simply because of how little chance he had of making the move work, but a ten-place grid penalty seems rather harsh for what is really just a racing incident.
Lotus Renault GP have already filled one seat for 2012, with Kimi Räikkönen coming out of retirement. The other seat is a matter of much speculation.
Russian Vitaly Petrov has a contract for 2012 that gives him a race seat. He also comes with substantial sponsorship. In his 2 seasons with Renault he has stood on the podium, and generally looks to have developed as a Formula 1 driver. However, Renault have not yet confirmed that he will drive in 2012, which of course suggests that he might not. If his place in the team were already decided, Renault would have announced it already. So Petrov’s position is in doubt.
Bruno Senna has driven for Renault for the last 8 races of the 2011 season. His performances have been mixed, but he has shown that he has the speed to compete at the highest level. He does not have a contract to race in 2012, but will be hoping that his 2011 performances will assist him in finding one.
Romain Grosjean raced for Renault in 7 races of the 2009 season. In that time, his highest finish was 13th, and his performances were unmemorable. It was thought that he might be a bit inexperienced to compete in Formula 1. After the disappointment of 2009, he returned to GP2 (Formula 1’s primary feeder series) and won the 2011 title comfortably. Renault signed him up as a reserve driver towards the end of 2011, which shows that they think he has developed as a driver. He is a strong contender for the race seat alongside Räikkönen.
It is quite unfortunate that these three drivers seem to be in competition for a single seat. All three have Formula 1 experience, speed and skill. But of course Renault can only choose one. Will it be Petrov with some experience and sponsorship, Senna with his amazing racing pedigree, or Grosjean with his recent GP2 form? Renault have stated that they will make an announcement by 10 December. We can only wait til then to find out.