Good Fifth Place For Coletti, Onidi Hampered By Race Contact
Scuderia Coloni had a very consistent first race of the season in Sepang. The team clinched a good fifth place with Stefano Coletti, while Fabio Onidi was hampered by a race contact with Rodolfo Gonzalez that broke his front wing, hence finishing P19.
Coletti’s race had a very good start, as the driver from Monaco passed the first corner in third place making the most of Valsecchi’s slow start. Stefano sticked himself to Leimer’s rear wing and started making pressure on the Swiss driver, while keeping an eye on the Dams car in his rear view mirrors.
The situation was unchanged until lap 5 when Coletti, clearly quicker than his rival, tried an overtaking move: unluckily he didn’t succeed and ended up going wide, losing third place in favour of Valsecchi. With the Italian immediately passing Leimer, the battle between Coletti and the Swiss driver of Racing Engineering went on. It was a frustrating one, because despite being way faster than his rival, Stefano didn’t find a way through. The team called him in the pits early (on lap 11) to try and pass during with the tyre change, but that didn’t change the order. With brand new tyres Stefano had the potential for some very quick laps but being stuck behind Leimer he couldn’t make the most of it: this allowed the charging Chilton to pass the fighting duo with some quick laps on a clean track, meaning P5 for Stefano. Coletti tried hard for the whole mid-part of the race to pass, but when he realized that it wasn’t possible without taking too much of a risk he decided to manage his tyres and settle for fifth, grabbing 10 points that will be important in the chase for the title. Tomorrow, he will start Race 2 from fourth place, having another shot at a good result.
Onidi’s race, meanwhile, was less lucky: the Italian driver lined-up on spot twelve of the grid, but his start wasn’t perfect and he lost a couple of places, finishing the first lap in P14. The middle of the field is a very eventful place to be, and Fabio discovered that on lap 5, when he clashed with Rodolfo Gonzalez. Unluckily, the contact damaged Onidi’s front wing, leaving the team with no other choice than calling him in one lap later to change the full nose assembly. In order avoid stopping Fabio again and minimize the time loss the team decided to perform the tyre change in that same pit-stop, sending the Italian driver back on track in 23rd position. Despite knowing that his race was ruined Fabio pushed a lot anyway and made his way up to P18 with some good aggressive driving. Anyway, with such an early pit-stop, the team knew that Fabio’s tyres would start suffering with early and that’s what happened, forcing Onidi to a conservative second part of the race that saw him finish 19th place.
Paolo Coloni: “There are many positive things to take from this race: we had the feedback we were expecting from both drivers and data, the pace is definitely there, plus the team did a really great job at the pit-stop, changing four tyres on Coletti’s car in the blink of an eye. The key moment of the race was when Stefano tried to attack Leimer and went a bit wide. He decided not to close the door on Valsecchi because it would have been too much of a risk, and I completely agree with his choice, but from then on the race was difficult because despite being quicker than Leimer he never had a real chance to pass. Being stuck behind a slower driver makes the race harder on the tyres too, so I think that in the end Stefano drove a very clever race taking some good points, it’s a good start for our season.
I’m very sorry for Fabio who had the potential for a good recovery from P12, and instead had to cope with an early contact that ruined his race. He’s a rookie so today he was introduced to the hardest part of GP2 racing, but he know that his potential is much more than that, and we know that too”.