Nathanaël Berthon drove the perfect race in the Barcelona Sprint Race, starting from 4th on the grid he battled hard throughout the race to finish 2nd and take his first podium place in GP2.
Weather conditions were different to yesterday’s Feature Race with cloudy skies following overnight rain and a track temperature 15° cooler than Saturday.
Nathanaël Berthon made a great start from the second row moving into 3rd as the cars braked into the first corner and as he exited Turn 1 he dived inside Valsecchi who ran a little wide and as the cars completed the first lap the young Frenchman was in 2nd position 0.6 seconds behind Razia and 1.2 seconds ahead of Valsecchi.
For the next few laps Berthon put heavy pressure on Razia as both cars pulled slowly away from Valsecchi and on lap 6 Razia led Berthon by 0.6 seconds and Valsecchi 1.4 seconds behind in third.By lap 13, half distance, Berthon was still chasing Razia with the gap still just 0.7 seconds and Valsecchi continued in 3rd 1.4 seconds behind the Racing Engineering car.
As the cars entered the last 8 laps the positions at the front remained unchanged although Berthon lost a few tenths to Razia as tyre wear became a factor in the closing stages. With 4 laps remaining Berthon was now 2.6 seconds behind Razia and concentrating on not making any mistakes as Valsecchi, now battling hard with Calado, was 1.1 seconds behind in 3rd.
As the final laps counted down Berthon continued to drive faultlessly and he crossed the finishing line in an excellent 2nd place 0.6 seconds ahead of Championship leader Valsecchi.
Fabio Leimer’s start from 12th place on the grid was made difficult by traffic in the first corner and at the end of lap 1 he was lying in 17th place just behind Gonzalez. For the next ten laps the Racing Engineering driver found it hard to make progress as a huge group of cars from 3rd to 19th were separated by just 10 seconds with all of the drivers trying not to give away any positions in the early laps of the race.
Leimer gained two places to move up to 15th on lap 11 when two cars ahead made contact and left the track and three laps later he was 14th when Ericsson took a drive through penalty. The young Swiss driver overtook Gonzalez at the end of the main straight at the start of lap 18 to take 13th place.
Leimer was now battling hard with Cecotto and he gained another place diving up the inside as the cars entered the chicane. The Racing Engineering car was now one of the fastest cars on the track and Leimer quickly closed in on Dillmann and as the cars entered the final corner Leimer took the inside line to grab 11th place.
Following on from a very successful weekend Racing Engineering now return to their Sanlúcar de Barrameda base to prepare for Monaco in two weeks’ time.
Alfonso de Orléans-Borbón, president of Racing Engineering:"What a fantastic race from Nat! His start was great and the base for today's success. He drove a very mature race and we are very happy with his podium finish. I am sure we will see him on the podium again soon. As for Fabio, his starting position complicated things and he was stuck in traffic in turn 1. Although he lost positions, he made his way back up towards the end of the race thanks to his good tyre management. I think both cars could have finished in the points in both races this weekend and would like to thank our engineers and mechanics for the really good cars they prepared this weekend."
Fabio Leimer:"Start wasn't so bad, I passed two cars. But in the first corner I decided to go to the outside, but some drivers were braking very late and I had to avoid hitting them. Then I saw that others pushed a lot at the beginning and decided to wait. Strategy worked well, but Crestani held me up and the gap to the position in the points became too big. Towards the end it was good, I saw others struggled with tyres and I pushed being much faster than those in front of me and made up some positions towards the end. As for the weekend we were very consistent and fast. Pity about yesterday as it cost us the entire weekend and I think I would have scores a lot of points."
Nathanaël Berthon:"The start was very good. I passed two cars and was second after turn one. This made my race easier. Then I tried to not push too much. My engineer helped me a lot with the pace because I was a bit quicker than Razia at the beginning, but we decided to manage the tyres. Then we didn't feel a big drop off and were quick at the end. I would like to thank the entire team, the engineers and mechanics for the excellent car I had. This was a really good weekend for me, it will give the team and me a boost for the upcoming races."