Alexander Rossi has claimed his maiden GP2 victory in Abu Dhabi after a sensational performance that will certainly help his cause to become the first American Formula One driver since Scott Speed in 2007.
Rossi has balanced his GP2 campaign with testing duties at Caterham, and the support series has seen him flourish with three podium finishes in 2013. However, after scoring his first pole position yesterday, Rossi went on to win the race ahead of Britain’s Jolyon Palmer.
Off the start, Rossi lost out to Palmer and was trailing him by as much as 3.3 seconds ahead of his late first pit stop. The American driver said that he was coming in “too late” on the radio, but it proved to be a masterstroke. By pitting two laps earlier than his rival, Rossi managed to make up the time meaning that Palmer emerged from the pits in second place.
Despite a late safety car period, Rossi managed to control the race from the front in the final few laps to eventually win the race by just over two seconds.
The race also saw the GP2 championship decided as Fabio Leimer finished fourth to establish an unassailable points lead over Britain’s Sam Bird. With GP2 being the direct support series to F1, it is likely that he could follow in the footsteps of Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado by making the step up in the near future.
However, the race belonged to Rossi. Fans in the U.S. will get the chance to see him run at Austin later this month when he takes part in the first free practice session for Caterham.
MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.
Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
- 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
- 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish
Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.
While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.
Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.
Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.
In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.