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Spain GP2 race report


Jolyon Palmer, Comma’s sponsored driver in the 2014 international GP2 Series, enjoyed another fruitful weekend at the Catalunya circuit in Barcelona, Spain on May 10/11th. By claiming second place for the French-based DAMS team in both the Feature and Sprint races, and adding the two bonus points for fastest lap in the Sprint contest, 23 year old Palmer from Horsham in East Sussex stretched his championship points tally to 70. In so doing, the elder son of former Formula 1 driver Jonathan Palmer will carry a handy leading margin of 22 points over his nearest rival, Colombia’s Julian Leal, into the next round at Monaco in two weeks time…… and Monaco just happens to be a very happy GP2 hunting ground for Jolyon Palmer.

Practice & Qualifying

The DAMS team - to which Comma is Technical Partner in 2014 – set most of the benchmarks in pre-season GP2 testing, and have solidly established themselves as the in-form outfit in the early season encounters. Barcelona underlined the point when Palmer dominated the unofficial practice session on Friday, topping the timing sheets with a lap in 1min 30.448 secs, two tenths ahead of his team-mate from last season, Carlin’s Felipe Nasr. Palmer's 2014 DAMS team-mate, Stéphane Richelmi, was next up, with New Zealander Mitch Evans for the Russian Time team and Dutchman Daniel De Jong for MP Motorsport being the only other drivers to get within a second of Palmer’s time.

Qualifying for Saturday’s Feature race was an altogether closer affair, with Richelmi pulling out all the stops to claim pole position, just over a tenth of a second faster than Palmer to annexe the front row for DAMS. Racing Engineering’s Stefano Coletti and Rafaelle Marciello made it another team partnership on the second row, with Nasr for Carlin and Evans for Russian Time on row three. Carlin’s Julian Leal of Columbia and Alexander Rossi from the US for the Caterham team took up row four, while MP Motorsport’s Tony Elinas from Cyprus and Stoffel Vandoorne for ART Grand Prix rounded out the top ten qualifiers. Less than a second separated the first six rows.

Feature race

Tyre strategy is critical in GP2, and on this occasion it was the Trident team who rolled the dice for Johnny Cecotto and came up with a surprise victory. Having qualified only thirteenth on the grid, Cecotto – son of the great Venezuelan motorcycle racer of the same name (who was also Ayrton Senna’s Formula 1 Tolman team-mate in 1984) – started the race on the hard compound tyres, and undoubtedly benefited from a three lap safety car period early in the proceedings. Palmer had inherited pole when his team mate stalled on the installation lap, and then had a first corner scuffle with Evans and Coletti which left Jolyon in the lead when the other two had a proper coming together. The leading runners on the softer rubber made their mandatory tyre changes soon after the pit stop window opened on lap 6, but by then, Cecotto, on a good race pace, had effectively been gifted longer-term control of events. Making his stop for fresh tyres with just nine laps remaining, he was able to catch and pass Jolyon for the lead, going away to win by over three seconds. Jolyon, on fading rubber, was helpless to do anything about it, and had a tough time in the closing laps holding off Nasr by less than half a second at the chequered flag.

Sprint race

The reverse grid start procedure for the top eight finishers in the Feature race placed Nasr and Palmer sixth and seventh respectively on the grid for Sunday’s shorter Sprint event. Both made rapid progress in the early stages, with Jolyon setting the fastest lap of the race on lap 6, and the contest then developed before half distance into a battle for the win between the two erstwhile team-mates. The gap between them was down to half a second before Jolyon started to struggle with a braking problem and the Carlin driver was able to stretch away and win by over seven seconds. “I couldn’t quite get close enough to make the move, and I thought I could challenge again in the closing laps,” said Jolyon. But it was not to be. “It’s more good points though, and I’m very happy with the weekend overall.”

As indeed he should be, having been on the podium for every race of the season to date, developing a good points lead in the championship and Monaco - his favourite circuit - next up. Bring it on!

You can follow Jolyon’s progress here throughout the season and get complete race reports and results on the official GP2 Series website at

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