Today’s 21 lap Sprint Race was held on a damp but drying track so all the cars were running slicks for the first time this weekend.
As the red lights went off Fabio Leimer made a great start from 14th, overtaking several cars to be 10th at the end of the first lap. Unfortunately the young Swiss lost several places on the second lap following a spin, after contact with Haryanto, to be lying 16th and chasing Trummer. Leimer soon dealt with the Arden car to move up to 15th and he started to close in on Ericsson who was just over two seconds ahead and battling with the second Racing Engineering car of Berthon.
On lap 9 Leimer passed his teammate Berthon to take 14th place and his next target was Crestani, 0.7 seconds ahead. On lap 11 the young Swiss passed the Venezuela GP Lazarus to move up to 13th and the Racing Engineering car was now one of the fastest cars on the track and his next target was a battling group of Haryanto, Onidi and Ericsson. Lap 14 saw Leimer lose a place to Calado but he immediately began to look for a way to re-pass the Lotus GP car as both men closed in on the battling group ahead.
Leimer passed Haryanto on lap 16 to regain 13th place and on lap 18 he passed Van der Garde to take 12th position which soon became 11th when Calado left the track and then 10th when Chilton pitted. On the final lap Leimer gained a further place as Cecotto retired to take 9th at the chequered flag.
Nathanaël Berthon made a clean start to hold onto 12th place at the end of the opening lap but over the next few laps the young Frenchman began to struggle and by lap 7 he had dropped to 14th place and was overtaken by his teammate Leimer. Opting to stop for new tyres on lap 11 Berthon dropped to 22nd place but he was now flying and he set the fastest lap of the race so far on lap 13 with a time of 1:43.446s.
However with most of the other cars not pitting Berthon could only pass a few cars in the remaining laps and at the finish he was 14th.
A disappointing race for the Racing Engineering team and drivers but in both races Leimer and Berthon were very fast and if it hadn’t been for the Safety Car incident in the Feature Race the team could have had a very different weekend.
The next race in the 2012 GP2 calendar is Hockenheim in two weeks’ time.
Thomas Couyotopoulo, Sporting Director of Racing Engineering:
"Today's race was a bit difficult given the starting positions of our drivers, but also the uncertain weather conditions as rain was a danger. The race was done on slick tyres. The start saw our drivers swap positions and Fabio started to make up positions, but unfortunately had contact when Haryanto tried to pass him when he was behind Gutierrez. This resulted in Fabio spinning and dropping back to P16. He was able to make his way up again given a good race pace to finish in ninth position. As for Nat, he lost some positions at the start and struggled with his front tyres during the first part of the race. He called us for a tyre change and when he re-joined the race at the end of the field, he was quickly able to come back and overtook several cars thanks to a strong race pace to finish in 14th position. Overall this was a disappointing weekend considering the potential we had."
"The start was really, really good today and I made up quite a few places. Then, unfortunately, I got together with Haryanto, he tried to pass me on the outside and I obviously closed the door on him. He drove into my car and this caused me to spin. I lost several positions there, which I tried to make up again during the next laps. But having pushed so much at this stage of the race caused my tyres to be not so good anymore during the last laps of the race. Today much more would have been possible as I was behind Gutierrez, who finished in 4th."
"It was strange because today was the first time I destroyed the tyres like this at the front. Also when we mounted the new tyres, after a while the problem started again. I spoke to the engineers and they told me the tyres were graining. I do not know, if I did something wrong, if it was the set up or a combination of this, we will look into it. This is a bad experience for me as so far my races were really good. But there are more races to come and I am sure we will do better."
Source: Racing Engineering