James Calado has had more than his fair share of bad luck in his rookie season, which has seen seemingly-certain victories slip through his fingers for a variety of reasons largely out of his control. But not today.
The Lotus GP driver was in no mood for a repeat of any such disappointment this weekend at Hockenheim, having fought back on Saturday from his ten-place grid penalty for causing a collision at Silverstone to start this week's sprint race from pole position. As the lights went out he pulled off a perfect start, then was able to control a subsequent early restart allowing him to gradually pulled away from Caterham's Giedo van der Garde to bring home a seemingly easy, trouble-free sprint race victory on Sunday morning.
"To finally get back to the front, where I belong, and start winning races again is a privilege," said Calado from the podium, giving full credit to the Lotus GP team that has given him an "unbelievable" car with "unreal" speed.
The driver who should have been his main threat for the top step of the podium, Arden's Luiz Razia, counted himself out of the running with a poor start off the line that allowed him to get pushed wide through turn 1 by Giedo van der Garde which broke his momentum and cost him multiple positions.
He compounded the problem with a spin on the very first lap that completely wrote off his race prospects. Razia had found himself running through the Parabolika not only behind Calado and van der Garde, but also behind DAMS' Felipe Nasr, Barwa Addax's Johnny Cecotto Jr. and Racing Engineering's Fabio Leimer who had all streamed past Razia and Nigel Melker at the start.
Going into the hairpin, van der Garde, Nasr and Cecotto were running three wide: Nasr briefly took over second spot and Leimer was able to take advantage of the switchback to slip past Cecotto for fourth. Immediately behind Leimer, Razia tried going right round the outside of the trio - only to put his back wheel onto the rumble strip marking the edge of the track. The tyre lost traction and the back end of the Arden spun around, leaving Razia broadside on to the oncoming traffic. Tom Dillmann had no where to go, and while he was able to stop without running into the side of Razia he paid for it when the back of the Rapax was run into by Max Chilton, whose Carlin rode right up onto the back of Dillmann's car and remained stuck there as the rest of the field picked their way around the incident.
Razia was able to get underway again, but was now down in 21st place; meanwhile the race stewards needed some time to disentangle Dillmann and Chilton's cars. Van der Garde had just managed to nose in front of Nasr to reclaim second spot when the brief safety car period was activated.
Once underway again, Calado quickly pulled out a one second lap over van der Garde, and while the Dutch driver initially held on with some impressive laps of his own gradually his challenge faded, and the Briton would go on to pull out nearly eight seconds over his competition by the end of the 27 lap race, in what would have been a welcome 'dull' morning at the office from his vantage point in the cockpit.
Felipe Nasr was unable to stay with the leading duo, but was in turn not under any strong challenge from Leimer - who in any case had his attention focussed on the rear view mirrors which were full of Cecotto, who was conspicuously fast in the early laps having been able to save his soft option tyres for use on Sunday. However he was unable to convert that superior grip into a lasting pass on the Racing Engineering car and instead left himself open to a strike from Esteban Gutiérrez in the Lotus GP out of the hairpin on lap 11. Cecotto's tyre performance dropped off after this, leaving him sinking backwards into the chasing chasing back which was being increasingly backed up by Ocean Racing car of Nigel Melker.