An unlucky day for Racing Engineering in Abu Dhabi
26 cars lined up on the grid ready for the start of today's race at Yas Marina with Racing Engineering's two drivers lining up fourth, with Dani Clos and tenth, with Nathanael Berthon. As the red lights went off and the cars began to race the car of Dani Clos had stalled on the grid, at first it looked as if the other cars had managed to avoid the young Spaniard but towards the rear of the grid Luiz Razia, who was trying to overtake another car, swerved into the Racing Engineering car and was launched over the rear of Clos' car making heavy contact with the barrier along the side of the track. With the car of Varhaug also involved the Safety Car was immediately deployed and began leading the cars slowly around the track and having to take them through the pitlane as work began to remove the damaged cars, repair the barrier and clean up all the carbon fibre debris. In view of the work needed it was decided to red flag the race on lap 2.
Fortunately all three drivers involved in the accident escaped serious injury, and once the track was clear the now 23 cars lined up behind the Safety Car once again and after two laps to allow the drivers to inspect the track again the Safety Car pulled into the pits and the race got under way. Frenchman Nathanael Berthon found himself in 8th place but he made a small mistake, possibly as a result of dirt on his tyres and lost two places but he kept his head and lap 6 saw him still in 10th just behind Turvey and leading Leimer.
The cars began to make their mandatory pitstops on lap 11 and Berthon entered the pits on lap 14 and the usual efficient Racing Engineering pit team saw him resume the track in 15th position which soon became 13th as other cars made their stops. Positions remained static for the next few laps other than changes brought about by further pitstops. As they reached 20 laps Berthon was lying 12th 1.5 seconds behind Chilton and almost a second ahead of Turvey.
As the race reached its final stages, its length now determined by elapsed time as to run the full distance would have exceeded the maximum time allowed, positions continued to remain unchanged throughout the field. However lap 24 saw Berthon retire out on the circuit when the battery alarm went on the steering wheel and turned off the car's engine. The Racing Engineering Team later verified that this problem was caused by a failure of the alternator, something beyond the control of the team.
With both of the Racing Engineering drivers having suffered problems in today's race and thus towards the rear of the grid they will have their work cut out to achieve anything tomorrow but neither will be giving up and the team will take the chance to continue familiarising themselves with the new Dallara chassis and the Pirelli tyres.
Well, my race was over before it even started. It's a disappointment as we obviously wanted to gain information on the car and the new tyres. Our main target is to be ready for the Main Series and therefore we need to collect as much information as we can. So tomorrow will be a test run for me as little more is possible from my starting position. We will therefore validate the information gained under race conditions. I am sure the team will do a great job and work flat out to have the car ready.
I had a good start and also kept my position at the restart after the safety car when I ran in eighth. Then I made a mistake and two cars passed me, but I think this might have been due to some dirt I picked up with my tyres. Our pit stop was quick and I closed the gap to Chilton. I was confident as I wasn't pushing too hard, keeping in mind the remaining laps of the race. Then an alarm on my steering turned on and the car shut down.
It's a pity as I was the best rookie and I might have even scored a point in my first race ever in GP2. This would have been a great performance as I am happy to fight against these experienced drivers in GP2. So, it's a disappointment for my team and me as we were on for a good result.
Alfonso de Orleans-Borbon, president of Racing Engineering:
Very disappointed. Sadly enough someone hit Dani very hard when he stalled on the grid. Although we do not know the exact extent of the damage, we can already say that our mechanics will have to work all night, if the car is repairable.
In regards to Nathanael, he drove very well and had a good pit stop. Then an alarm light turned off on his steering wheel and the car stopped. It's a pity as in the end it basically came down to nothing. Given the starting positions, we will use tomorrow's race to learn more about the car.
-source: racing engineering