Once again the British weather was not shining on Silverstone and the 29 lap Feature Race started over 90 minutes late due to the delay in F1 qualifying caused by the torrential rain. Although it had stopped raining by the start of the race the decision was made to use the Safety Car as there was still a lot of standing water on the circuit.
Following his brilliant qualifying performance Fabio Leimer was starting from pole position whilst post-qualifying penalties to a number of drivers meant that Nathanaël Berthon started the race from 11th on the grid.
The Safety Car returned to the pits after 7 laps and as the cars began to race Leimer leapt into an immediate lead and at the end of the first racing lap he was 2.8 seconds ahead of Cecotto. Lapping up to a second a lap faster than the rest of the cars the Racing Engineering car was 5.1 seconds ahead of Cecotto by lap 11.
Leimer continued his dominant performance at the front of the field setting fastest lap after fastest lap and by lap 17 the gap to the second place car was 8.8 seconds.
On lap 19 the Safety Car was deployed negating the lead that Leimer had built up and he was unable to make his mandatory pitstop as many of his rivals were as he had already passed the pitlane entrance. With the race now being run to the one hour rule there was just 9 minutes of racing left as racing resumed once more. With just one more lap completed another car spun causing the Safety Car to return to the track and Leimer now took his mandatory pitstop returning to the track in 18th place.
Berthon made a clean start from 11th place and despite the poor visibility in the middle of the pack he held his position at the end of the lap to be 1.3 seconds behind Haryanto and 1.1 seconds ahead of Onidi. By lap 12 the young Frenchman was holding the gap to Haryanto but was now being chased by Van der Garde. Taking advantage of the Safety Car, Berthon made his mandatory pitstop on lap 19 resuming in 12th place as the Safety Car returned to the pits.
As the clock reached the one hour mark the chequered flag fell after 25 laps with Berthon finishing 12th, just 0.7 seconds behind Crestani and Leimer finishing 15th. Tomorrow’s Sprint Race will see both Racing Engineering cars starting down the grid but with the possibility of more rain and Leimer’s superiority in the wet a good finish is still possible.
Thomas Couyotopoulo, Sporting Director of Racing Engineering:
"Disappointing results for both drivers today. We were able to supply Fabio with a very strong car this weekend and he has been doing a fantastic job so far. Today he was leading the race comfortably and showed the fastest pace every lap. Unfortunately an external factor provoked an unexpected safety car period, which ruined our race. We will explain today's strategy and what has led to Fabio losing his lead in a separate statement in order to allow for a better understanding. We were hoping for better results with Nathanaël today, but it was hard for him to fight through the field in what was his first wet GP2 race. However, we will try to improve his car to help him perform in these conditions."
"There was still too much water on track, so it was decided to start the race behind the safety car. For me this decision was favourable as it's the safer solution. The restart was pretty good and during the first laps I looked for the limit of the car and track. Then I saw that the others were a bit slower than me and I started to save my tyres. But I was still fast, consistent and opened a bigger and bigger gap to the cars behind me. All went really well until the Safety Car was deployed. This was a really strange Safety Car as there wasn't really a dangerous situation and Calado stopped his car on the inside of turn 1, which is not really a dangerous area. During some two laps there were yellow flags and just when I crossed the pit entry they called the safety car. I had no possibility to react anymore. This was a strange decision as a safety car is usually deployed when it is the best to do so. If the situation was so dangerous, why were there only yellows for two laps or so? The cars are visible on the GPS and we are followed by cameras, so it's hard for me to understand why the safety car wasn't deployed 10 seconds earlier, but when the race leader just crosses the pit entrance. With the safety car being called 10 seconds earlier, there would have been no problem at all, but like this my race was over as all others had the chance to do their mandatory pit stop. There were not many laps left after this, so, even though I pushed, there was little more I could do."
"At the start there was no visibility, it was really, really bad. The first laps were a nightmare as you could not see anything. I suffered from a lot of understeer throughout the race and felt like today I could not fight like I usually do. After the pit stop the handling was a bit better, but today I didn't have the pace to fight my way up. This was my first wet race in a GP2 car and I am sure in the future I will be better when racing in the wet as I will have more experience."
Source: Racing Engineering