Nancy Knapp Schilke, GP2 Correspondent
The Brazilian holds off Valsecchi for win number four in 2012
As usual the GP2 Series drivers gave it all they could in the Sprint race this morning at the Silverstone Circuit. What can be a follow the leader and hope for the best in the shorter races on their double-race weekends has seen some of the best battles of the season thus far. Today ended with the two top racers in the 2012 points chase one-two at the chequered flag.
Arden International’s Luiz Razia took his fourth victory this season by holding off the late charge of Davide Valsecchi. Rookie Felipe Nasr placed third to hand the DAMS team two spots on the podium.
I'm very pleased with the victory: it's just such a blessing that I cannot believe it!
"I just used the grip in the opening laps to overtake the guys, and after that I was just controlling my pace. Nasr tried to attack me a few times, and I was like 'come on, I need to save my tyres!' [laughs] But in the end it was fine, everything worked out, and I'm very pleased with the victory: it's just such a blessing that I cannot believe it!" smiled the Brazilian.
Dutch racer for Caterham Racing was in command at the start of the race until he had a difficult time due a flat-spotted front tyre. Giedo van der Garde sailed into the first turn from his pole position when the lights went out as the two DAMS drivers were side-by-side looking to nearly take each other out! Behind the trio was Razia who made a brilliant start from fourth as did Johnny Cecotto, who started seventh.
After yesterday’s rain causing a wet circuit, the GP2 drivers had a chance to show what they could do on a dry track; unfortunately their eagerness overshadowed the opportunity to be in contention for the victory. The two DAMS drivers gave one another space while Cecotto tried a bit too hard to overtake Razia in the first turn, and he could not hold on.
By the time they all reached the turn known as the Bridge, van der Garde held the lead followed by Nasr. Razia was able to get around Valsecchi for third thanks in part to Cecotto.
Razia made his move to take second out of the hands of the DAMS rookie, and that is when the Brazilian started to chase down van der Garde. Razia took the lead at the chicane, and then opened up a nice cushion to the field behind him.
The fight for fourth heated up between Cecotto and Nigel Melker. Behind them was a charging Esteban Gutiérrez; the winner of Saturday’s Feature race. The Mexican was soon in the mix for fourth, and following him was the homeland racer, Jolyon Palmer.
Van der Garde was in the grasp of Nasr and Valsecchi. It was soon evident that the Dutchman had to make a pitstop to change the right front tyre; ending today’s race far out of the points in 21st.
Gutiérrez was able to overtake Melker, and now had free ground to battle for fourth with the Cecotto. At the same time, Nasr allowed his teammate to take second so he could catch Razia. Until yesterday, Valsecchi was the 2012 points leader.
With two laps remaining, Gutiérrez was able to take control of fourth in his Lotus GP car, and saw the rear wing of Nasr. He could taste the podium finish but his braking was late and he had to drop back, and ended side-by-side with Cecotto’s car, and on the final lap the two drivers had contact. When Gutiérrez went wide, he went off the track and as he spun back onto the track he slammed into Cecotto again. This time the Venezuelan ending in the barriers but managed to take the chequered flag with a broken front wing.
Gutiérrez finished fourth while Cecotto ended his race back in 18th. GP2 stewards will review the incident, and in most cases, a penalty is handed out.
While the battle for 3rd to 5th took place, the Italian was getting closer and close to Razia. The Brazilian was able to hold off Valsecchi to land the victory. “I was not worried about him coming after me, and I work very well under pressure: it can be anyone behind me, and I'm not going to make a mistake! I did that very well, and I tried to get the fastest lap at the end of the race, but there was a yellow flag so I had to break off,” Razia said.
Valsecchi commented, “Today Razia was a bit better than me, but we were starting so far behind in race one, and for sure yesterday I didn't expect to finish 7th and today 2nd! This result is like gold, and although today I couldn't fight for victory because Razia and Arden were a bit better than me, the championship is long and we need to stay there, not make any mistakes, stay calm and fight until the end.”
Nasr was able to hang on to the final podium step followed by the Mexican. “We showed we were as competitive as the front runners, so we take this positive side and look forward to Hockenheim, which is a track I know well, and we just keep working on a few details. I'm sure things will come together, and we need a bit of luck because when you look at Valencia starting 2nd I would never imagine we'd get a total failure in the car. But when things come together, those little details, I'm sure it will come,” Nasr said.
After taking third yesterday, Palmer delivered a fifth to the British fans and the iSport International team. Sixth went to Ocean Racing’s Melker, and he was followed across the line by iSport’s Marcus Ericsson. Fabio Onidi for the Scuderia Coloni team was eighth, after a race long drive up the leaderboard with Ericsson.
In two weeks, the GP2 Series teams will be in Hockenheim, Germany. Razia now has 165 points to Valsecchi’s 159.
Update: It was expected that the series would hand out penalties after the Sprint Race to not one, but both Lotus GP drivers.
Gutiérrez was cited for the last lap incident with Cecotto: "causing a collision with Jonny Cecotto on the last lap and for rejoining the track in an unsafe manner" and after qualifying in Hockenheim, he will be handed a ten place grid drop for race one - the Feature Race. His teammate James Calado will have the same grid penalty. The reason given was: "for causing a collision with Max Chilton."