Motorsport News - GP2
Podium for Leimer and more points for Berthon in Valencia
25th June 2012
Once again the sun was out at Valencia but the morning track temperature was much cooler than yesterday at just 25°.
Nathanaël Berthon made a great start from the second row to be in 2nd place into the first corner but a fast starting Ericsson tried to overtake the Racing Engineering car but with Berthon trying to pass leader Calado there was not enough room for three cars across the track. Ericsson went into the barrier and made contact with Berthon causing the young Frenchman to loose several places including one to his teammate Fabio Leimer who had made a good start from 5th on the grid.
The Ericsson incident resulted in several other cars being involved and the Safety car was immediately deployed and led the field until lap 3 when it returned to the pits. As racing got underway again Leimer was lying 4th and chasing Chilton and just ahead of Van der Garde, the second Racing Engineering car of Berthon was right behind in 6th.
A further incident between Cecotto and Palmer saw the Safety Car back out again for two laps and racing resumed again on lap 5.
Leimer was now chasing Chilton hard for 4th but Berthon made contact with Onidi and in recovering from the incident lost a place to Razia to drop back to 7th.
The top 5 cars, separated by less than 3 seconds, were now pulling away from the rest of the field and Leimer was now closing on Chilton but he had to be careful not to make a mistake as Van der Garde was just 0.5 seconds behind in 5th. Berthon was still running well in 7th sandwiched between the Arden cars of Razia and Trummer.
As the race reached the halfway mark the first 5 cars continued to increase their lead at the front of the field and on lap 13 Leimer set his fastest lap of the race so far as he fought to get close enough to Chilton to make a passing move. Berthon continued his battle with the two Arden cars, the three cars separated by 2.7 seconds.
With 9 laps to go the battle at the front of the field began to intensify as the three cars at the front began to slow each other down allowing Leimer and Van der Garde to close right in on them and the gap from Calado, in the lead, to Leimer in 4th was just two seconds.
On lap 17 Leimer was now right on the gearbox of Chilton and was looking for a way past, diving into turn 17 he was able to pull alongside the Carlin car but Chilton had track position so the young Swiss was unable to complete the manoeuvre but he continued to attack at every available opportunity. Suddenly, with 4 laps remaining, Leimer finally made his move and passed Chilton just as the two leaders, Calado and Haryanto, made contact. Haryanto had to retire and Leimer immediately closed in on Calado and began pressuring the British driver.
With two laps remaining Leimer was pulling alongside Calado at every corner as the Lotus GP car took the defensive line every time. On the last lap Leimer braked very late and passed Calado but ran wide and left the track which meant that he had to allow Calado back ahead and, in slowing, Razia took advantage of the confusion to pass both cars leaving Leimer a very disappointed third.
Meanwhile Berthon had been able to pass Van der Garde for 6th and as the race entered the closing laps he closed in quickly on Chilton, getting to within 0.5 seconds but time ran out before he could get ahead of the Carlin car.
The Valencia weekend has been very successful for Racing Engineering taking a podium place and four finishes in the top 6. Now the team returns to its Sanlúcar de Barrameda base to prepare for Silverstone in two weeks’ time.
Thomas Couyotopoulo, Sporting Director of Racing Engineering:
"Good to have finished on the podium today, but at the same time it's disappointing to fail in securing a race win that was once more possible today. It was a difficult race, but the pace of both cars was very promising and things could have ended up slightly better for both of them. Having said that, both drivers have scored points today and yesterday, which shows our strong performance, which is underlined by Fabio scoring the points for fastest lap. I want to thank all the team for the good work done, for the reliable and fast cars they prepared."
"This was a good race, but sadly it was not enough. I saw that Calado had problems, so I tried everything to get by, but at that point I was already struggling myself. I could save my tyres quite well at the beginning, when I saw all others pushed quite a lot. Therefore my tyres were working well towards the end of the race. Maybe I attacked Calado a bit too early and should have waited until the end as at the very end of the race the exit of the corners was already not so good anymore. At several occasions I was very close to taking the lead, but backed off and was back in P2. When Razia passed us both, this was a bit of bad luck as Calado was only concentrated on me and Razia had more speed and passed us both. So I lost one position, but overall this was no bad weekend. We have shown that we are there and have the speed. We drove for the win in both races. I am sure in Silverstone, if we have a qualifying without traffic hampering me, things will look different."
"I had a very good start and when Ericsson overshot the braking point into turn 2 he was on the outside, which cost me two positions. The following corner I was on the inside and Fabio tried to pass me. We touched there, which is a shame as I lost positions to Van der Garde and Razia, but more than anything this contact affected the behaviour of my car quite a bit. With the car not being perfect anymore, I was not able to push as much as I wanted. I really think that I could have had a race at the top today, so it's disappointing. But the positive thing is that I scored points for six times in a row and now I definitely want to win. I finished both races this weekend in the points and think that the victory is not so far away."
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