|The weather today at Spa for the 25 lap Feature Race was unsettled, the rain that had affected F1 qualifying had stopped but the circuit was still very wet, temperatures were similar to yesterday with air and track temperatures of 17° and 27° respectively. The forecast was for more rain and in view of the conditions the majority of the drivers, including both Racing Engineering cars, opted for Pirelli wet tyres.
As the lights went off the rain began to fall again and Lello made a good start but ran wide into the first corner losing two places but as the lap progressed he passed Leal and Berthon to cross the line in 4th but with the rain now falling very heavily the Safety Car was deployed. The rain was now falling harder still and as Evans lost time as his engine switched to Safety Mode, promoting Lello to 3rd, the race was red flagged.
After a delay of approximately twenty minutes the race got under way again under the Safety Car on lap 4 and it pulled off the track on lap 5. As the cars got up to speed Lello was immediately challenging Vandoorne for second and on lap 6 he set the fastest lap of the race so far. By lap 8 the young Italian was continually pulling out of the spray of Cecotto, who was now lying 2nd, looking for a way to pass as both cars now lead Nasr by four seconds. On lap 9 a great exit from Eau Rouge allowed the young Italian to pass Cecotto around the outside and Lello set his fastest lap so far as he pulled away from the Venezuelan and looked to close the 4.8 second gap to leader Vandoorne.
Lello continued to push hard setting the fastest lap of the race so far, 2:19.849s, as he began to close in on the Belgian driver. By lap 13, just past the half-way point Lello had reduced the gap to 4.2 seconds but the two men were setting almost identical lap times. Lello set another fastest lap of 2:19.122s as he and Vandoorne lapped between two and three seconds faster than most of the other drivers.
By lap 17 Lello was one of only two cars yet to make a pitstop and on lap 18 it was another fastest lap with a time of 2:18.228s and on the following lap he dived into the pits. A typically fast stop from the Racing Engineering team saw Lello resume in 2nd spot just 2.6 seconds behind the ART car with five laps remaining. On the next lap Lello lapped 2.4 seconds faster than Vandoorne and closed the gap to 0.1 seconds.
With three laps to go Lello was putting massive pressure on Vandoorne and it finally paid off as a better corner exit saw the Racing Engineering car pass the ART driver to take the lead. Lello immediately began to pull away and as the two cars crossed the finishing line victory went to the young Italian by two seconds.
Stefano lost a place as the race got underway dropping to 17th but he passed Binder and a spinning Daly to finish the lap in 15th place and incidents to other cars under the Safety Car period allowed Stefano to move up to 12th as the red flag was displayed. As racing resumed the Racing Engineering driver passed Negrão to take 11th position and he was now 1.4 seconds behind Dillmann. Stefano took his mandatory pitstop on lap 11 resuming in 20th but as he came up to pass Canamasas the Spaniard forced Stefano off the track and the young Monegasque spun into retirement.
Lello’s superb debut win in GP2 will see the Racing Engineering car start from 8th on tomorrow’s reversed grid for the Sprint Race and another win is a strong possibility, especially if it rains again. For the unlucky Stefano it will be a back of the grid start but it’s certain he will battle as hard as ever to try and get into the points.
Alfonso de Orléans-Borbón, president of Racing Engineering: “I think Lello should already have had a victory before this weekend, but he has done a fantastic job, the engineers did an amazing job, everyone did a good job at the pit stop, and there’s the win! I think Stefano would have finished in the top 10 as well, but sadly enough another driver pushed him off the track and we have to deal with that. But overall the team has done a fantastic job, the drivers have done a fantastic job and now we have to get ready for tomorrow.”
Rafaele Marciello: “It was a really long race. My start was good, but I was between two cars, so I had to go long. I immediately recovered two positions during the first lap, but then we had a red flag. When we restarted the car was really good to drive, but it was hard to stay close to Cecotto because the visibility was zero. After a while I was able to pass Cecotto, but Vandoorne was quite a long way ahead, however, I was able to recover a bit every lap. When Vandoorne pitted, I still had some tyres left, so I pushed really hard and recovered even more while Vandoorne was in the pits and then my pit stop was really good and fast. After the pit stop I was really, really quick compared to the others and was surprised when Vandoorne struggled quite a lot. I was able to pass him and open up a gap. Thanks to my team as after the pit stop my car was really good. Before I pitted, the car was good and I was up there with Vandoorne, but after the pit stop our performance was simply better, which allowed me to pass him quite easily.”
Stefano Coletti:: “A very messy race. At the start it was raining quite a lot and this is why we had the red flag. I was able to make up some positions from 16th to 12th. When we restarted I couldn’t see anything being so far back, so we opted for an early pit stop to gain a bit more visibility. But I dropped behind Canamasas and at the braking for Les Combes I was on his left and he completely shut the door on me and pushed me onto the curbs, so I spun and hit the wall.”