Marciello beats Vandoorne in GP2 epic
|3.||J. Cecotto Jr.||+35.375|
23 August 2014 – Raffaele Marciello claimed a sensational maiden GP2 victory as he triumphed over Stoffel Vandoorne at a wet Spa-Francorchamps.
Vandoorne led for most of the Feature Race but he was hounded by Marciello as the pair romped away from the rest of their rivals. Marciello snatched the lead with three laps remaining in an encounter which was stopped during the early stages due to heavy rain.
Johnny Cecotto Jr. was a distant third for Trident.
At the start, Vandoorne romped away from pole position while Mitch Evans leapt into second as title leader Jolyon Palmer suffered a terrible getaway, slipping to ninth by the end of the first lap.
There were frantic battles for position as the rain intensified, until Conor Daly went off at Stavelot, triggering the deployment of the Safety Car.
The rain hammered down and the race was red flagged due to the conditions, although a few drivers spun, including Evans, who dropped down to sixth.
The race resumed behind the Safety Car after a 20-minute break and after two laps the racing got back under way. Vandoorne led across the line but made a mistake at La Source, handing the lead of the race to Cecotto Jr., who subsequently erred under braking at Les Combes, but nonetheless retained an advantage. Race Control immediately ordered Cecotto to hand back the lead to Vandoorne and the Venezuelan duly obliged, as Marciello kept a watchful eye in third.
Felipe Nasr recovered from his lowly grid position after a storming first lap and after the restart he displaced Nathanaël Berthon to move into fourth and set about hunting down Marciello.
Vandoorne stormed clear at the head of the field by almost two seconds a lap while Marciello hounded Cecotto Jr. until he found a way through at Les Combes on Lap 9 and immediately pulled away.
Berthon's times began to drop and he made contact with Simon Trummer at Malmedy, causing damage to both cars and handing Palmer sixth. Trummer pitted for a new front wing while Berthon continued but was later handed a penalty.
Vandoorne and Marciello set comparable times as they pulled away from their rivals at a sizeable rate, until the Belgian youngster pitted for fresh wet tyres with eight laps remaining, handing the lead to Marciello.
Marciello kept going for two laps until he pitted for a fresh set of wet tyres, emerging from the pits 2.6s behind his rival, with the pair a whopping 24 seconds ahead of Cecotto Jr. in third. Marciello also saved a huge slide at Raidillon as he began to hunt down Vandoorne. Crucially, Marciello opted for four fresh wet tyres while Vandoorne only changed the rears, a decision which soon played into the Italian's favour.
Marciello stormed on to the back of Vandoorne with four laps remaining and threatened his rival into Les Combes, but went wide, before having a look around the outside of Rivage.
One lap later, Marciello made a better exit from Rivage and sliced down the inside of Vandoorne to take the lead. He duly maintained a two-second gap to Vandoorne as he eased to the first GP2 win of his career.
Such was the pace of the young Ferrari and McLaren stars up front that Cecotto Jr. was some 35 seconds behind victor Marciello, with Nasr fourth and Evans fifth.
Palmer held off an impressive Artem Markelov for sixth as the Russian rookie netted a fine seventh despite starting from the pit lane.
Daniel Abt secured eighth after a late pass onAndré Negrão, while Daniël de Jong rounded out the points.
Stefano Coletti's miserable weekend continued as the Racing Engineer driver spun off at Les Combes after being caught out by Sergio Canamasas. Rio Haryanto and Rene Binder also failed to make the distance.
Sunday's GP2 Sprint Race at Spa gets underway at 10:35 local time (GMT +2)