Fabio Leimer finishes 5th today in Singapore to increase his lead in the 2013 GP2 Championship. Conditions for today’s 28 lap Feature Race would be very tough for the drivers with air and track temperatures of 31° and 40° respectively but, more importantly, the humidity was 59%.
As the lights went off pole man Palmer was slow away boxing in Fabio and dropping him to 4th but, as the cars entered the first corner, the Racing Engineering driver was able to re-pass Richelmi and Calado to take 2nd place.
At the end of the first lap Fabio was 2.2 seconds behind Nasr and 1.1 seconds ahead of Palmer but it was soon clear that the drivers on the Super Soft tyres were struggling and on lap 3 Fabio lost a place to Palmer and was now battling with Calado. On lap 7 Fabio made his mandatory pitstop, switching to the soft tyre, and resuming in 12th place.
As the race reached lap 14, the half-way point, the young Swiss driver was now up to 7th as he passed Evans and with several cars ahead still to pit. On lap 16 Fabio had caught up with a battling Cecotto and Abt and he lost several seconds to Calado trying to pass the two men without taking any risks.
By lap 18 Fabio was up to 4th, having finally made it past Abt, but he was now 8 seconds behind Calado but he was lapping about a second a lap quicker with 9 laps to go. Three laps later the gap was down to 3.7 seconds as the Racing Engineering car continued to lap much faster than the ART car.
With five laps to go Fabio had closed right in on Calado and was now looking for a place to pass but once again the Championship was his main concern and with his two closet rivals, Bird and Coletti, outside the top eight bringing the car home was the most important thing. As the cars began their final lap Fabio was still 4th but Richelmi had now caught the Racing Engineering car and Fabio lost a place to cross the finishing line in 5th.
At the start Julián dropped two places to 16th and at the end of the opening lap he was 0.7 seconds behind Lancaster and 0.3 seconds ahead of Quaife-Hobbs. By lap 5 the young Colombian was now involved in a big battle for13th with seven cars separated by just two seconds. The Racing Engineering car made its mandatory pitstop on lap 6, resuming in 23rd but, three laps later, contact between Julián and the Trident car of Berthon at Turn 13 saw both men out of the race.
Tomorrow’s 20 lap Sprint Race will see Fabio starting 4th on the reversed grid and the Racing Engineering driver will be looking for a podium finish to further increase his points score, he now leads Bird by 12 points and Nasr by 21. Julián’s race accident will mean he has to start from the back of the grid but, as usual, he will try hard to pass as many cars as possible.
Thomas Couyotopoulo, Sporting Director of Racing Engineering: "Saturday's race in Singapore was rather difficult for us. The start was good for Fabio, although it was a bit disappointing to see several drivers cut turn 1 and get away with it. It was our strategy to use the option tyres today and so keep a new set of primes for tomorrow.
We knew that Fabio would struggle quite quickly on the super-soft tyres, but he was able to finish his first stint positively. After the pit stop he was a bit unfortunate as he had to be careful making his way through the traffic and pass drivers like Evans and Cecotto, trying to avoid any potential contact, which would have had very negative consequences.
Once out of traffic, he had a very strong pace allowing him to close the gap to the cars in front of him very quickly. But he pushed hard and didn't have enough tyres left to fight during the last laps to finish on the podium, which was possible today. Having said that, the target was to score good point! s today and stay ahead in the championship, especially considering tomorrow's possibilities.
For Julian the start itself was OK as well, but in turn 1 he had contact with another car damaging his front wing. We had to change the front wing and 4 tyres on lap 6, and shortly after he was involved in a bigger accident with Berthon the lap after his pit stop. Julian is OK, but there is a lot to do to have his car ready for tomorrow's race.
The stewards have decided to penalize Nathanaël Berthon for this, but this is not giving us back the possibility we had today with Julian to maybe finish in the top 10. We will work hard now to have Julian's car ready for tomorrow and Fabio's car to again score important points in this fight for the championship, so we can arrive in Abu Dhabi with Fabio in the lead."
Fabio Leimer: "It was a quite hard race today. I had a pretty good start and went into the first corner in second. Nasr had a really good start, so he took the lead. Nasr, Palmer and the guys around me were on prime tyres and I was on options. They went away quickly, so after a few laps I already had some problems, we therefore opted for an early pit stop.
There was still a long time until the end of the race and I unfortunately lost quite a lot of time in traffic behind Abt and Cecotto, who were quite slower than me at this point of the race. This was maybe where I lost my chance to pass Calado and finish on the podium. When I got by these two cars, I was really far away from Calado and pushed really hard to close the gap on him.
Maybe it was a bit too much as towards the end I had some problems and then unfortunately Richelmi was able to pass me on the last lap, as he had much better tyres than me, which stopped me from keeping him be! hind me. In the end P5 is not a perfect result, but I think we can be satisfied as Bird finished behind me in 8th."
Julián Leal: "It was not my day today. I started with yesterday's penalty, which meant I lost two positions compared to my qualifying result. My start was quite OK. I was maybe a bit too optimistic into turn 1 and crashed into Berthon damaging my front wing. After that I only tried to keep my pace and was behind Abt.
Being stuck in traffic we decided on an early pit stop where we also changed my front wing. When I came back on track, I had Berthon in front of me and when I tried to overtake him, he closed the door on me and put me into the wall. After the pit stop I was only able to do less than a lap, but with the new front wing I already felt quite a difference. So I think tomorrow I can do a good job.”