The rain that had affected the Formula 1 qualifying had stopped as the GP2 cars lined up on the grid for the 25 lap Feature Race but there were still a lot of grey clouds and the air and track temperatures were much lower than yesterday’s qualifying at 19° and 22° respectively and the circuit was still damp and slippery. Both of the Racing Engineering cars started on the hard Pirelli compound.
Racing resumed on lap 5 and Fabio was immediately pushing Calado hard and the young Swiss was challenging the ART car into Eau Rouge and using the slipstream Fabio was able to make the pass and move up to 2nd. The Racing Engineering car soon opened out a gap over Rossi who had gained a place when Calado pitted. On lap 8 Fabio was 3.5 seconds behind Bird and 2.5 seconds ahead of Rossi and on the following lap he took his mandatory pitstop fitting another set of hard Pirellis and resuming the track in 13th.
Fabio found himself delayed in traffic as he bought his tyres up to the correct temperature and he lost a place to Ericsson when the DAMS Car pitted. On lap 11 Fabio was 1.4 seconds behind Ericsson and 4.1 seconds ahead of Richelmi but he lost another place to Rossi following the Caterham car’s pitstop. With 10 laps to go Fabio was lying 11th with several cars ahead still to take their mandatory pitstops and he was starting to close in on a battling Ericsson and Rossi, the gap between the three cars was 1.8 seconds but the Racing Engineering car lost several seconds after making contact with Ghirelli who had yet to pit.
By lap 18 Fabio was lapping at the same speed as two cars ahead but the time he had lost in traffic meant that he was just less than four seconds behind in 5th with one car ahead still to pit. With the laps running out Fabio settled for 4th place at the finish to gain valuable points on his two main rivals Coletti and Nasr as both men finished outside the top ten.
Julián Leal made a good start moving up to 9th place despite contact with Berthon, he then lost a place to Frijns to be 10th at the end of the opening lap but following the Safety Car deployment he was able to pass the Hilmer Motorsport car to regain 9th position. By lap 8, as cars began to make their mandatory pitstops, the young Colombian was up to 5th, 1.6 seconds behind Rossi and 0.8 seconds ahead of Coletti.
The Racing Engineering car continued to gain places as the team opted for a late pitstop and on lap 14 he briefly lead the race before making his stop, resuming the track in 10th. By lap 20 he was up to 6th, just 1.4 seconds behind his Racing Engineering teammate and, although his lost a place to Dillmann on the penultimate lap, a late pitstop by Trummer meant that he crossed the finishing line in an excellent 6th place after a hard fought race.
Tomorrow’s Sprint Race will see Julián starting from 3rd on the grid and Fabio from 5th so both men will be looking to finish on the podium and score more points in the 2013 GP2 Championship.
Thomas Lassus, Race Engineer: "Fabio was able to score some good points today, which was important for the championship. We missed a bit of pace at one stage of the race and lost some positions after the pit stop. But overall it was good that we scored the points for 4th. Julian was on a different strategy, so the two cars had different plans to follow. This worked quite well as Julian improved his pace before the pit stop and jumped some cars. We have a good set of tyres for Julian's car tomorrow, so we hopefully we can get the first podium for Julian tomorrow."
Fabio Leimer: "The start was not so good today as my side of the track was still a bit damp while the other side was completely dry, so I had less traction. In turn 1 it became very tight as I was on the outside and Ericsson was actually already ahead, but I had better traction, because the exit of turn 1 was still quite wet, so I regained third position. After this I was managing my tyres and when there was the safety car, we decided to pit earlier.
The second stint was OK, even though I had a slight crash with Ghirelli. I was lucky not to go off and be unable to finish the race. Therefore, I have to be happy I was able to finish in 4th as there wasn't much missing and I would have been out of the race. In the end we made up points again in the championship and with a good race tomorrow we are in a position to make up even more points."
Julián Leal: "I had a very good start and passed several cars. Then it took me some time to get on the pace, so the first part of the race was a little bit difficult when I was fighting with Frijns. He overtook me, but I took back my position after the safety car period. After this I kept to the pace of the cars in front of me, tried to not make any mistakes and wait for the pit stop.
The pit stop went well and our strategy was the correct one for today. I was able to overtake a lot of cars and even with softer tyres I had a good pace towards the end and kept P6."