Lotus’s James Calado won the GP2 sprint race in Germany, having earned the reverse grid pole the day before. Calado and team-mate Esteban Gutierrez both had ten-place grid penalties from Silverstone, which was always going to make the Hockenheim weekend a challenge. Calado responded by setting the second fastest time in qualifying, which meant he started Race 1 from P11. Gutierrez was caught out by a yellow flag during the wet session which meant he set only the ninth fastest time. He started Saturday’s race in P18.
With the track damp at the start, most teams including Lotus GP elected to start on wet tyres, with Johnny Cecotto gambling on slicks. His call paid off, as the sun dried the circuit quickly and the field filed into the pits after a few laps to change to dry rubber. With both Lotus’s pitting at the same time, Gutierrez had to wait while Calado’s tyres were changed which dropped him back to 19th. The Mexican then managed those slicks well, so that he was able to attack hard in the final third of the 39 lap race, passing Tom Dillmann for P10 and chasing down Marcus Ericsson. On the last lap he made a move on Ericsson at the hairpin but the pair went wide, allowing Dillmann back through. Esteban managed to retain tenth place, earning himself a point. Calado, meanwhile, fought over eighth place with Davide Valsecchi, which is vital for a good starting position for Race 2. Valsecchi went wide on Lap 31, which allowed the Englishman through.
Starting from pole, Calado made a great Race 2 start and despite early pressure from Guido van der Garde was able to pull away from the Dutchman in the second half of the race. It was the rookie’s second sprint win of the season. Gutierrez finished fifth after a long fight with Fabio Leimer who, despite a last lap attempt, he was unable to pass.
Esteban maintains third place in the drivers’ championship with 129 points. Calado is fifth in the standings with 116 but has closed the gap. Lotus GP lead DAMS with 245 points to 227.
James Calado: “A fantastic weekend for me and Lotus GP. I had a ten-place penalty but I came here focused on qualifying well, which I did. I was very close to pole position. I had contact with another driver during Race 1, which broke part of my front wing and the loss of downforce really ruined my tyres. P8 was the target and we got there, so that was good. The start of Race 2 was perfect, in fact I’d say it was the most perfect race I’ve ever driven. I set my fastest lap of the race just a few laps from the end, which goes to show how well the car was set up. Despite pressure from Van der Garde I knew I had plenty left. My confidence is now boosted. We had no problems at all and a good load of points to take to Hungary.”
Esteban Gutierrez: “In Race 1 I lost critical time to James on the pitstop, and after that I had a lot of work to do. It was a long stint, so I had to take care of the tyres at the beginning. Towards the end we were able to gain a lot of positions, so this tactic worked. Tenth is not so bad, it could have been worse. Race 2 was more fun, I had some good fights and it was very challenging as I had very little tyres left at the end. I tried to overtake Leimer but felt the tyres going away. The day was very positive as I managed to score six points and my team-mate won the race, so it’s terrific for the Lotus GP.”