Lotus GP scored a lights-to-flag one-two on Sunday, in the sprint race that rounded-off the 2012 GP2 Series’ first race weekend.
British rookie James Calado lined up sixth on the grid for Race 1, with Mexican team-mate Esteban Gutierrez back in 15th, recovering from a practice crash with Barwa Addax’s Johnny Cecotto. Esteban made a lightening start, carving through to 10th by the third corner. Calado maintained his position, pitting on lap 12, while Gutierrez led the race before pitting three laps later. He stormed into the pit entry road a bit too hot, got on the grass and just saved it, losing 2.5 seconds. It put him back behind Calado, who was now running ninth, and the pair started to drill into the field again. On lap 25 of the 30 lap feature, Esteban passed James at the hairpin to snatch seventh. Calado resisted pressure from Giedo Van der Garde until the finish. It had been a particularly tough race for the rookie. His water bottle broke, as did his radio. It was most fortunate his crew was there when he came in to pit.
By finishing eighth, James was on pole position for the second race. Esteban was right behind on the front row. Down to Turn 1 the Mexican challenged, but James had the inside line and the pair maintained their positions at the front all the way to the flag. Calado leaves Malaysia third in the championship, with Gutierrez just one point behind. Lotus GP is second in the title chase, five points adrift of DAMS.
James Calado: “In Race 2 Esteban’s start was better, but I kept to the inside for the first corner. From there I drove like a slug, so slow, just trying to conserve the tyres. I couldn’t believe the degredation, but it’s the same for everyone. It’s nice to get a win under my belt. My objective this weekend was just to score points, and that’s what I’ve done without taking any silly risks. That’s the way I’m approaching every round this season.”
Esteban Gutierrez: “I played it safe in Race 2 because it’s essential to get the points. My one chance was the start, I didn’t manage to take the lead from James, but from there we had a very strong race and it’s the perfect result for the team. Yesterday’s start was really good, I found a lot of grip and had I not been blocked I think I could have been P5 from P15! It was still good enough to get in the top ten. When I went into the pits I was a bit optimistic. I need to minimize these kinds of mistakes. Today, there were no errors from either James or I and we got this great one-two, so we’re very happy.”