Both Racing Engineering cars in the top ten in today’s Sprint race at Bahrain.
The start of the Sprint Race was full of incident, as the lights went off one car stalled on the grid and as the cars raced towards the first corner they spread across the track with several drivers running very close to the pit wall. As the cars entered the first corner Van der Garde spun causing many drivers to have to avoid the Caterham car.
In all the confusion Fabio Leimer lost two places dropping to 9th but Nathanaël Berthon took advantage to move from 12th on the grid to 8th at the end of the lap. Leimer then lost a place to Chilton on the opening lap and was demoted further to 11th by Onidi on the second lap.
Berthon continued to hold 8th place despite heavy pressure from Chilton but on lap 5 whilst trying to stay ahead of the Carlin car he lost positions to the Briton as well as Onidi and his team-mate Leimer.
Over the next few laps the two Racing Engineering cars ran in 10th and 11th with both men closing in on Chilton and on lap 13 Leimer passed the Carlin driver and as the cars raced down the main straight to start lap 14 Berthon also passed the Briton.
Leimer was now 2.2 seconds behind Onidi and the young Swiss was determined to catch the Italian and move into the points. Within two laps Leimer had reduced the gap to just one second and on lap 17 he was just 0.8 seconds behind and closing fast on the 8th placed car. As the cars started lap 20 Leimer was right on the gearbox of the Coloni driver and looking to overtake, and with just one lap to go the Racing Engineering car moved up to 8th and into the points.
In the closing laps Berthon closed up on Onidi but as the chequered flag fell he was just 0.5 seconds behind in 10th place.
Although both Racing Engineering cars finished in the top ten, ultimately it was not the result the team were hoping for but they can take heart from Leimer’s great second place in yesterday’s Feature Race. Racing Engineering now returns to their base at Sanlúcar de Barrameda to prepare for the next round of the 2012 GP2 Series at Barcelona in two weeks’ time.
Thomas Couyotopoulo, Sporting Director of Racing Engineering: "Good start from Nathanaël and his management of position off the start. He gained positions and was up to Nasr and Gutierrez, but lost positions due to the incident between van der Garde and Gutierrez. He was then surprised by the braking of Nasr and lost positions on track. During the rest of the race he followed the pace of his team mate and finished in 10th. Fabio unfortunately didn't have a great start and was squeezed to the outside of the first corners. During the second lap Fabio lost a position to Onidi when the field approached corner 1 where Cecotto's car was stopped after an incident at the start. Fabio was cautious as, with the stopped car, it seemed as if the sector was under yellow and therefore did not defend his position, expecting Onidi to receive a drive through penalty. However, there was no penalty and he lost too much time behind the Coloni car and would have otherwise certainly have passed Ericsson as well. We learned many things during these last two weekends and could show that both cars and drivers can perform well. Now we will work hard on continuing to improve in every aspect."
Fabio Leimer: "Today wasn't such a good race; the first lap was really bad. In the first corner I planned to go to the inside, but needed to move to the outside as there were already too many cars. This cost me many positions and then I tried to save my tyres. This worked OK, although towards the end the tyres weren't as good as any more as I expected them to be. It was quite decisive that Onidi overtook me when there was a yellow flag in corner one on lap 2 as I didn't push to pass him expecting him to receive a penalty. In the end I could finish in eighth position, but this was not what we planned for today."
Nathanaël Berthon: "I did a really, really good first lap and then tried to avoid any collision with other cars and stayed behind the group and worked on managing my tyres as much as possible. At the beginning I was much, much quicker than the guys in front of me. In one corner they were braking very early and I almost touched Nasr. To avoid this, I missed the corner and Chilton overtook me and it became a bit of a mess. I lost three positions. Without this today's results could have been much better. I think we drew some good conclusions during the races here, which should be valuable in the future."