The Monaco skies were sunny with a track temperature of 30° for today’s 42 lap Feature Race. All but one of the GP2 drivers opted to start the race on the Pirelli supersoft tyres.
Fabio Leimer was able to hold onto 9th place as the cars completed their opening lap but damage sustained to his front wing would result in a severe loss of performance to his car for the rest of the race. At the end of the first lap, as the cars crossed the finishing line, he was 0.5 seconds behind Gutierrez and 0.8 ahead of Dillmann. Over the next few laps the Racing Engineering car stayed within two seconds of the Lotus GP car but at 10 laps he was badly delayed by Serenelli and on lap 11 the young Swiss was 9.1 seconds behind Gutierrez and 0.7 seconds ahead of Dillmann.
Leimer made his mandatory pitstop on lap 14, resuming in 17th place and he began a battle with Onidi who was 0.4 seconds behind the Racing Engineering car which continued until lap 27 when the Scuderia Coloni car retired. Leimer now found himself six seconds behind Trummer and five seconds ahead of Gonzalez but with the young Swiss and Trummer running almost identical lap times Leimer was unable to close the gap. On lap 34 it was announced that Leimer would have to take a drive-through penalty for exceeding the track limits which he took immediately but he was now a lap down in 19th position which was his final position as the race ended.
Nathanaël Berthon made a good start, and, despite the typical Monaco opening lap traffic jam, he made up several places. Taking his mandatory pitstop on lap 17 he resumed the track in 16th position and running some quick laps he passed Teixera on lap 20 and Dillmann two laps later to be in 14th position. Some late race pitstops moved Berthon up to 9th and, with four laps to go, he was 3.0 seconds behind Richelmi and 3.5 seconds ahead of Coletti but with not enough time left the Racing Engineering driver had to settle for 9th.
For tomorrow’s Sprint Race Nathanaël Berthon will concentrate on trying to score more points in the 2012 GP2 Series whilst for Fabio Leimer it will be a case of gaining as many places as possible to make up for his disappointment today.
Timetable: Race 2: Sat 26 May 2012, 16:10 (GMT+2)
Thomas Couyotopoulo, Sporting Director of Racing Engineering: "A good race from Nathanaël, who was able to fight his way back from 16th to 9th. He drove a very solid and mature race almost finishing in P8, which would have allowed him to start tomorrow's race from pole. As always in Monaco traffic has been decisive and Nat suffered from it on various occasions. But especially here it is difficult to have a clear long stint. As for Fabio he unfortunately damaged his front wing at the start and suffered from a lack of front downforce as a consequence. Therefore he suffered from the front locking under braking throughout the race and received a penalty for missing the apex at the chicane several times. It's a pity as we know he could have done better, but we will work hard to get the best out of tomorrow."
Fabio Leimer: "At the start I tried to go towards the left, but this didn't work as Kral had a bad start. I had to move towards the inside at turn one and Kral pulled over as well. I touched him with my front wing and lost a part. After that it was difficult to keep up my speed as I also started to struggle with the brakes due to the missing parts on my wing. I missed braking points which resulted in a drive through. Overall it was a difficult race for me today."
Nathanaël Berthon: "Today it was hard to achieve a better result than this. My team applied a fantastic strategy for me; I think we could not have done it any better. My start was great and I passed 3 cars. Then I was pushed all race long and although I am happy I finished ninth, it's a pity as I missed tomorrow's pole by one position."