The weather for today’s 29 lap feature Race was much cooler than yesterday with air and track temperatures of 17° and 28° degrees respectively and there was a chance of the rain that had affected the F1 qualifying earlier returning. Lello, after his superb qualifying yesterday, was starting from pole position using the Pirelli P Zero White medium compound whilst Stefano, starting from 11th, was using the P Zero Orange hard compound.
Lello made a superb start from pole pulling out nearly a second in the opening corners and at the end of the first lap he was 1.2 seconds ahead of Evans and he held the gap until lap 3 when Palmer passed Evans for second and it looked as if the DAMS car would close in on the Racing Engineering driver but Lello increased his pace and on lap 6 he set the fastest lap of the race so far with a 1:44.924s and these two men were the only ones lapping in the 1:44 second bracket.
By lap 9 Palmer, who was running on the P Zero Orange hard compound, had closed the gap to Lello and the Racing Engineering team called the young Italian into the pit to change to the P Zero Orange hard compound tyre resuming the track in 13th place which became 12th on lap 12 when passed Lancaster. Lello was now running very quickly and he was soon on the gearbox of Haryanto but just as he was lining up to pass the Caterham car he suddenly slowed and had to pull off the track with a mechanical failure.
Stefano made a great start from the 6th row of the grid moving up to 7th by half-way round the first lap and crossing the finishing line in 6th, 1.2 seconds behind Vandoorne and 0.6 seconds ahead on Cecotto. The young Monegasque began to close the gap to the ART car and by lap 6 the gap was 0.9 seconds. Stefano continued to push and by the half-way point in the race the gap was still 0.9 seconds and the gap to Nasr in 3rd was less than two seconds.
Stefano took his pitstop on lap 18 as the Racing Engineering team did a quick tyre change onto the P Zero White medium compound regaining the track in 11th position right behind Leal and on lap 19 he passed the Carlin car. As all the leaders took their mandatory pitstops Stefano was now lying in 4th 1.1 seconds behind Vandoorne and 2.1 seconds ahead of Leal with eight laps remaining. As the race entered its dying minutes Leal had closed the gap to Stefano and as the cars raced down the Hanger Straight and into Club corner the two cars made contact twice and Stefan was pushed off the track resulting in an investigation into the incident.
It has been a mixed day for Racing Engineering with Stefano having a very competitive race from 11th on the grid but Lello sadly retiring when looking to finish on the podium. Tomorrow’s 21 lap Sprint race will see Stefano starting from 4th on the reversed grid and looking for victory but Lello will be right at the back of the grid in last position with little chance to add to his points tally.
Thomas Couyotopoulo, Sporting Director of Racing Engineering:"Very disappointing today with a technical issue stopping Lello from what was a quite secure podium finish. We still have to look into details to understand what has happened to the power train. P5 (but maybe P4 depending on the outcome of the stewards’ post-race investigation due to contact with Leal) for Stefano is positive given his 11th starting place. He had a good start and a solid race to score points. Tomorrow a podium finish is the target for him and we are concentrating on working towards it."
Raffaele Marciello:"My race start was good and also the strategy was the best for me. I could have overtaken Haryanto on the following lap and would have been in free air, allowing me to go at my own rhythm. I would have definitely finished on the podium today, but a gear problem stopped me. I start tomorrow’s race from last position on the grid, so I hope for rain, which would allow me to at least gather experience of the GP2 car under wet conditions. If it’s dry, I will obviously give my best as well and even though it’s difficult, I will try to finish in the top 8.”
Stefano Coletti:"Overall it was a good race considering that I started from 11th on the grid. The fight during the final lap was a bit intense as I left the other car space on two occasions, but was pushed off the track by the other driver. For tomorrow, we need to improve the car a bit and then my goal is to finish on the podium.”