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pic 02/07/16 Norman Nato and Jordan King in the points today for Racing Engineering at the Red Bull Ring.

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Yesterday’s Practice and Qualifying were held under blue, sunny skies but today’s 40 lap Feature Race saw dark skies and the earlier F1 qualifying had been affected by rain but the sun had now come out but there was a threat of more rain to come and the air and track temperatures were 27° and 42° respectively. Following yesterday’s Qualifying Norman Nato was starting from 9th on the grid and Jordan King 13th, he had qualified 14th but a penalty to another driver had lifted him one place. Both of the Racing Engineering cars were fitted with the Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft compound tyres for the start of the race.

Norman made a great getaway at the start passing two cars into the first corner and another further around the track to finish lap one in 6th position and by lap three he was right behind Marciello and just ahead of Kirchhofer. By lap seven the young Frenchman was fighting hard to keep Lynn and Markelov behind him and as he concentrated on not overusing his tyres he had dropped to 1.7 seconds behind Marciello and the gaps to the two Russian Time cars that were ahead and behind the Racing Engineering driver remained constant over the next six laps. On lap fifteen it began to rain a little on some sections of the track making it very tricky for the drivers and Nato began to close very quickly on Ghiotto, who had been passed by Marciello.

The rain now began to increase, especially through Turn 2, but much of the track was still dry but a Safety Car period on lap 18 due to two cars leaving the track saw the Racing Engineering car dive into the pits to fit wet tyres dropping to 10th position. As racing resumed Norman was right behind Armand and ahead of Lynn but although he passed Armand the cars on wet tyres were finding they weren’t giving an advantage and he dropped to 12th on lap twenty-seven. A car stranded on the track caused a second Safety Car period and he pitted again for a tyre change but, as he resumed the track in 11th position, the race was then red flagged to allow the marshalls to remove the car.

Racing resumed again on lap thirty after a long delay with the cars behind the Safety Car for two laps and Norman gained two places as two cars stalled in the pit road to lie 9th behind Rowland and he soon gained another place and then moved up to 7th as he passed Sirotkin. His next target was Eriksson but there were not enough laps left to make an impression on the Swedish driver and he finished in 7th.

Jordan gained a place at the start as he passed Evans to take 12th and on lap two he was 11th as he got ahead of Pic. By lap ten he was 2.8 seconds behind Kirchhofer and 1.1 seconds ahead of Pic and over the following five laps he pulled away from the Frenchman and closed the gap to Kirchhofer a little and on lap seventeen, as the rain fell, he passed the Carlin car to lie 10th. Jordan also pitted during the Safety Car period to fit wet tyres resuming the track in 12th just behind Gelael and leading Latifi.

The young Englishman then lost one place and on lap twenty-seven the Safety Car came out and Racing Engineering called Jordan in and changed the wet tyres to another set of Pirellis and, following the red flag period, he was now in 13th spot which became 11th following the stalled cars in the pit road. As the cars began racing again Jordan was pushing hard and he quickly passed two cars to lie 9th and he was now chasing Sirotkin but he was being pushed hard by Malja and with two laps to go he was passed by the Rapax car leaving him in 10th.

Today’s race with its Safety Car periods, rain and a red flag was very much a lottery and both Norman and Jordan did well to finish in the points in 7th and 10th positions. Tomorrow’s Sprint Race will see Norman start from second on the reversed grid with Jordan on the 5th row, both men will be looking to score more points and to finish on the podium.
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Team Comments:

Alan Queille, Race Engineer: “Even if both our drivers improved their qualifying positions finishing in P7 and P10, it could have been better as both had a good start. Shortly before the halfway point of the race it started to rain on some parts of the track and we pitted for rain tyres. It was a difficult call at this time to decide to stay out or pit for wets, but based on the drivers’ feedback and the Safety Car opportunity, we went for the option to bring the cars in. Initially it proved to be the right decision when the rain got stronger, but it was not wet for long enough to make this strategy work. After pitting back onto slicks and then the red flag, Norman, on option tyres, had a good pace during the laps following the restart making up positions to cross the line in seventh. Jordan overtook Latifi, but during the fight with him, damaged his tyres and was doing a very good job in defending a point scoring P10.”

Norman Nato: “My start was pretty good and I was in fifth when Marciello overtook me, so I finished lap 1 in sixth as I didn’t want to fight at this stage. I knew we had to do a lot of laps on these tyres, so I concentrated on following the car in front. It then started to rain heavily in sector 1 and then also in sector 2 as well. It was a gamble and not easy to decide to go for wet tyres or to stay on slicks. We now know it was not the right decision, but like I said it was a gamble and no one could be sure. There was a red flag with 10 laps to go and starting behind the safety car so our strategy was to push straight away to make up positions as some people were on primes, some on options. In the end it’s good to score as the others I am fighting with in the championship didn’t score and I have a front row start for tomorrow.”

Jordan King:: “I had a good start and picked up a couple of places off the line but I didn’t manage to keep overtaking during the first lap. Then, my speed for a few laps, was a bit slow and then I managed to get the balance back and picked my speed back up. It then started to rain and we pitted for wets but it didn’t carry on raining leaving the track to dry up and we pitted again under the Safety Car.”
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©GP2
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