It was another very hot day at Hockenheim for the 38 lap Feature Race with air and track temperatures of 33° and 57° respectively. Following a post-qualifying penalty given to Cecotto, Lello was promoted one place to start 7th on the grid whilst Stefano was 3rd for this, the 200th GP2 race. Stefano was starting the race on the P Zero White medium compound Pirelli but Lello was on the P Zero Yellow soft compound.
As the lights went out Stefano made a clean getaway to hold his 3rd position into the first corner and he was right on the gearbox of Palmer momentarily passing the DAMS car but the British driver fought back and at the end of the first lap the Racing Engineering car was third behind Palmer and ahead of Nasr. Following an incident between two other cars the Safety Car was deployed on lap 2 for two laps and on the restart Stefano held onto 3rd but he had to defend his position from Nasr who was very close. As the cars started their 7th lap Stefano was one second behind Palmer and 1.8s ahead of Nasr and he now began to close the gap to Palmer while pulling away from Nasr and by lap 10 the gap was down to 0.3 seconds and he had pulled out 2.4 seconds on the Carlin car.
By lap 15 Stefano was still less than half a second behind Palmer and both men were just over two seconds behind the leader. The young Monegasque now began to preserve his tyres, especially his rears as he would have to leave his mandatory pitstop to switch to the soft compound tyres until near the end of the race. On lap 24 both Stefano and Palmer made their stop with Stefano resuming in 13th place with 13 laps still to go but he was in the middle of a large group of cars battling for 6th position. Within three laps he was up to 10th and on lap 29 he passed Leal for 9th, one lap later it was 8th position and the Racing Engineering car was just 0.5 seconds behind Berthon and he immediately closed the gap and passed the Frenchman for 7th on lap 30. On the following lap as he lined up to pass Quaife-Hobbs Stefano ran wide losing two places but he quickly regained both positions as Berthon and Nasr in turn ran wide. Stefano closed right in on Quaife-Hobbs and a super overtaking manoeuvre saw him up to 7th and he immediately set his fastest lap of the race as he closed the gap to Cecotto and Richelmi and with three laps remaining another great move saw him up to 6th as he passed the DAMS car but he dropped back to 7th as Nasr got ahead but with one lap left as Nasr tried to pass Cecotto both men ran wide and Stefan took advantage of their errors to take an amazing 4th place.
Lello made a good start moving up to 6th into the first corner but in the close traffic on the opening lap he was passed by Cecotto to finish the lap in 7th spot with Richelmi just behind. The young Italian held 7th on the restart after the Safety Car incident and he made a superb overtaking move on the outside of Cecotto to move up to 6th. Lello now began to push hard setting personal fastest times in the opening sectors as he closed the gap to Pic in 5th. On lap 11 Lello dived into the pits right on the tail of Pic but both cars simultaneously had an engine problem causing the cars to stall and although both were restarted they had lost a lot of time and Lello resumed the track in 23rd place and with an almost impossible task to get back into the points. The Racing Engineering car now began to lap quickly and on lap 16 he set the fastest lap of the race so far with a time of 1:27.173s but he was still nearly thirteen seconds behind the car ahead of him.
On lap 22 Lello had caught Lancaster and he quickly passed him for 20th into the final corner and his next target was Canamasas who was 3.5 seconds ahead. Lello quickly closed the gap and although both men gained places the Racing Engineering driver had to settle for a disappointed 17th at the flag.
Tomorrow’s 27 lap Sprint race will see Stefano starting from 5th on the reversed grid and the young Monegasque will be looking to finish on the podium and his race pace today will make him one of the favourites to take the victory. For Lello it will be a case of pushing as hard as possible to get up into the points and once again the speed he showed in the race today makes this a realistic target.Quotes:
Thomas Couyotopoulo, Sporting Director of Racing Engineering:"A very eventful race today with a big influence of the strategy and the high rate of tyre degradation. Stefano had a good race and finished between Palmer and Nasr as he was before his pit stop. The strategy of Evans allowed him to jump the entire group at the top and it proved that the same strategy, which we also chose for Lello, was working as, after the pitstop, Lello was virtually ahead of Evans and Richelmi. However, Lello’s engine stopped on its own during the pit stop, something that occurred to other cars as well due to the high temperatures. This destroyed our race and it’s a real shame given Lello’s strong race. The cars were well balanced, the drivers did a good job and the mechanics did two good pit stops, so it’s again frustrating to not be able to have Lello on the podium, which is where he should have finished the race."
Raffaele Marciello:"I had a good start and quickly after overtook Cecotto. Our strategy was just perfect today, but we had a problem at the pit stop, which was not our fault, so our race was over there. I was pushing after the pit stop and set the fastest lap at that time, but in the end I destroyed my tyres a little. For sure I lost a victory today as our pace was really good.”
Stefano Coletti:"A lot of things happened during today’s race. The strategy to first mount option tyres and then primes was better today. Unfortunately we had a bit of degradation with the primes, so I was in P12 after my pit stop. In the end I overtook many cars and was able to fight my way back to 4th place, so I scored good points in the championship and will go for another podium tomorrow.”spacer