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pic 12/05/12 Excellent 5th place for Nathanaël Berthon and Racing Engineering today at Barcelona.

In his best race since joining Racing Engineering and helped by great pit work from the Spanish team Nathanaël Berthon finished 5th in today’s Feature Race....
In his best race since joining Racing Engineering and helped by great pit work from the Spanish team Nathanaël Berthon finished 5th in today’s Feature Race.

Today’s 37 lap race was held under sunny skies and, as in yesterday’s qualifying, track temperatures were high at 41°. As the lights went off Fabio Leimer made a great start from second on the grid moving alongside the pole position car of Calado and as the cars raced to the first corner Calado pushed Leimer very wide and the young Swiss driver settled for second place.

Over the next few laps Leimer pressurised Calado at every opportunity setting the fastest lap on lap 3 and by lap nine the gap was just 0.6 seconds with the Racing Engineering car 1.1 seconds ahead of Van Der Garde in 3rd.

Lap 13 saw both Leimer and Calado make their mandatory pit stops and both cars were side-by-side in the pit road but, as the cars resumed the track, Leimer was forced to fall behind Kral and Gonzalez who were yet to stop. As the other cars made their pitstops Leimer was now running 3rd behind Calado and Van Der Garde who had passed both cars with a very quick pitstop.

On lap 20 it was announced that Leimer, who was lapping faster than the two cars ahead, would have to serve a drive through penalty for an unsafe release during his pitstop. On the 23 lap the Racing Engineering car entered the pits and resumed the track behind Palmer in 13th place.

With 10 laps remaining Leimer was looking to pass Nasr but he had to make sure he made no mistakes as Gutierrez was close behind him. However, despite driving as hard as possible, Leimer had to settle for 12th place at the finish.

Nathanaël Berthon made a great start from 10th on the grid and at the end of the opening lap he was lying 7th and trying to pass Chilton at the end of the main straight. A tough battle now began to develop between the Racing Engineering car and Chilton with Onidi just behind the Frenchman in 8th. Over the next few laps Berthon continued to chase Chilton while slowly pulling away from Onidi and on lap 10 Berthon was 1.0 seconds behind Chilton and 1.3 ahead of Onidi.

Berthon made his mandatory pitstop on lap 12 and a very quick tyre change by the Racing Engineering team saw him gain a place and by lap 19 he was in 6th place, 1.4 seconds behind Valsecchi and 4.1 seconds ahead of Onidi.

The penalty to Leimer moved Berthon up to 5th and he was now 3.4 seconds behind Valsecchi and 1.3 seconds ahead of Onidi. The Coloni car of Onidi began to close in on Berthon but some quick laps from Berthon saw the Racing Engineering car open the gap to 1.6 seconds with just 8 laps remaining.

As the race entered the final laps Berthon continued to move away from Onidi and at the chequered flag the Frenchman finished an excellent 5th, a great drive from 10th on the grid.

Tomorrow’s Sprint Race will see Berthon starting from 4th on the reversed grid and he will be looking for a podium position at the finish. For Leimer, starting from 12th, the aim of the Swiss driver will be to gain as many places as possible to add to his points score.
Team Comments:

Alfonso de Orléans-Borbón, president of Racing Engineering:
“It's a bit difficult to understand why something is allowed in F1, but penalised in GP2, especially when it didn't create a dangerous situation. It's a pity this penalty cost Fabio another podium and makes tomorrow's race for him difficult. As for Nat, he did a fantastic race. We knew that all we needed for him was a decent position at the start. Today he showed us what a great race driver he is. He starts fourth tomorrow and we hope he can finish on the podium.”

Fabio Leimer: “The start was pretty OK and I was close to passing Calado, but in a dangerous manoeuvre I was pushed outside the track limits and almost lost second position. After that the race was pretty unexciting, I had no problem staying close to Calado and we both pitted on the same lap. We came out of the pit stop together and I didn't think this was a dangerous manoeuvre as we both had sufficient space. I received a drive through for this and I am obviously very disappointed as I am working hard on the preparation of each race weekend and such decisions are destroying an entire weekend.”

Nathanaël Berthon: “This is my best result of the year so far. I am really happy as, with a good starting position and opening laps, I can better show my potential. Again I would like to thank my mechanics and engineers, who gave me the car to do it. The weekend is not finished, I start fourth tomorrow, so let's see what will happen.”
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