Feature Race (Aug 27th)
Christian Vietoris took an utterly chaotic race win at Spa-Francorchamps ahead of Jules Bianchi, but it was Romain Grosjean who claimed the title with his 3rd place.
Having also secured pole position, Vietoris led from the off, building a three-second gap to Bianchi by the halfway point.
However, as rain began to fall over La Source and the old pitlane, Julián Leal spun his Rapax machine at the top of Eau Rouge, stalling as he stopped. With the track partially blocked, the safety car was called and chaos ensued.
Having completely missed the leaders, the safety car drew to a halt exiting the pitlane, whereby cars refused to pass it. The confusion became grew deeper still as the rain suddenly picked up, dousing the field in large plumes of spray, even at slow speed.
Amidst the disorder, Stefano Coletti crashed hard into the rear of Michael Aleshin, with the former flying high, sustaining compressed fractures of two vertebrae as he landed.
Unsure of the order, drivers slowed severely under the safety car, causing several machines to fall into “stand-by mode”, with some units switching off altogether. The race did eventually restart with one lap left, albeit with a far different leaderboard.
Amidst the panic, Vietoris kept his cool and the lead on the final tour, claiming the bonus point for fastest lap as well. Neither Bianchi nor Grosjean had enough time to challenge Vietoris, ensuring the German picked up maximum points. Neither Barwa Addax car finished with both Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde crashing out, essentially gifting Grosjean the title.
Luca Filippi collected 4th spot. The Italian started on the front row, only drop down to 5th by the opening turn, passing Marcus Ericsson for 4th just before the safety car emerged. There would be no top-five for the Swede – Ericsson’s iSport machine was of those that died under the safety car.
Brendon Hartley took advantage with a fantastic start from the sixth row, assuming 6th on lap one, until Hartley’s demise gave him 5th.
Dani Clos finished on Hartley’s tail after starting alongside him in the grid. Clos’ opening tour was less dramatic, climbing to 11th on the opening tour. Passes on Johnny Cecotto Jr., Josef Kral and Fairuz Fauzy left Clos 8th, while the falling Ericsson and Adam Carroll promoted the Spaniard further.
Kral finished ahead of Fauzy on track, but they had their positions swapped post-race, when it was determined Fauzy had unnecessarily let Kral passed under the safety car.
2011 GP2 Round of Spa-Francorchamps (Rd 8, Feature Race, 24 laps) Pos Driver Team Time / Gap 1. Christian Vietoris Racing Engineering 1:00:55.099 2. Jules Bianchi Lotus-ART +2.862 3. Romain Grosjean DAMS +4.571 4. Luca Filippi Scuderia Coloni +6.441 5. Brendon Hartley Ocean Racing Tech. +11.614 6. Dani Clos Racing Engineering +12.471 7. Fairuz Fauzy Super Nova +18.906 8. Josef Kral Arden +17.391 9. Adam Carroll Super Nova +19.364 10. Davide Valsecchi Caterham AirAsia +20.228 FL. Julián Leal Rapax 2:00.536
Sprint Race (Aug 28th)
A stunning drive from Luca Filippi garnered a second GP2 win of the season for the Italian, ahead of Jules Bianchi and Josef Kral.
Lining up 5th on the grid, the Scuderia Coloni pilot grabbed positions from Dani Clos and Fairuz Fauzy on the third lap, before taking the fast starting Johnny Cecotto Jr in a wheel-to-wheel tussle in Le Combes three laps later.
A mid-race safety car period to clear up the remains of Fabio Leimer’s utterly destroyed Rapax machine on Eau Rouge closed the field together for a seven lap burst to he flag, although Filippi would not need it.
Approaching the slow La Source hairpin at the beginning of lap twelve, Filippi drew alongside Kral, throwing his Renault-powered Coloni into the lead. From there Filippi was rarely seen, building a gap of 4.4 seconds at the chequered flag.
Bianchi had a more trying time in his charge to 2nd place. Starting 7th, the Frenchman made progress amongst a pack that had been backed up by Cecotto Jr., but it was not until after the safety car period that Bianchi moved.
One obstacle was removed when Fauzy damaged his front wing on Cecotto Jr’s rear, packing up the battle for 3rd to 6th further still. The foursome, bookended by Cecotto Jr and Bianchi, with Romain Grosjean and Clos sitting 4th and 5th, bunched together into the daunting Eau Rouge.
It was a daring move that saw Bianchi pass both Grosjean and Clos, while the new GP2 Champion dropped Clos to 6th on the approach to Le Combes. Bianchi made short work of Cecotto Jr, taking 3rd in the Bus Stop chicane.
Bianchi chased after Kral, catching and passing the Czech pilot on the penultimate lap, finalising the podium positions in an emphatic manner.
Sadly for Cecotto Jr., his tyres cried enough in the closing laps, dropping the Venezuelan to 8th as the race drew to a close. It gave an easy 4th to Grosjean, although the DAMS driver could not force a way passed the determined Kral.
Sam Bird made a late charge for the points, jumping from 11th to 5th following the safety car period, while Clos held onto6th in spite of ageing tyres.
Barwa Addax’s late season slide continued, with neither car coming close to the points, as Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde finishing a distant 19th and 20th respectively.
Meanwhile Julián Leal completed a miserable weekend for Rapax, by spinning out at La Source on lap fourteen.
Filippi’s win and Feature Race points score suddenly opened up the battle for runner-up in the GP2 Championship. With now only a single round remaining, van der Garde was being faced down by Bianchi, Pic and the resurgent Filippi.
2011 GP2 Round of Spa-Francorchamps (Rd 8, Sprint Race, 18 laps) Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Luca Filippi Scuderia Coloni 39:34.834 2. Jules Bianchi Lotus-ART +4.476 3. Josef Kral Arden +6.857 4. Romain Grosjean DAMS +7.685 5. Sam Bird iSport +8.993 6. Dani Clos Racing Engineering +12.952 7. Esteban Gutierrez Lotus-ART +14.364 8. Johnny Cecotto Jr. Ocean Racing Tech. +19.360 9. Brendon Hartley Ocean Racing Tech. +19.634 10. Davide Valsecchi Caterham AirAsia +20.192 FL. Marcus Ericsson iSport 2:00.493 2011 GP2 Series (Rd 8.) Drivers’ Championship Pos Driver Points 1. Romain Grosjean 83 2. Giedo van der Garde 49 3. Jules Bianchi 48 4. Charles Pic 42 5. Luca Filippi 40 Teams’ Championship Pos Team Points 1. Barwa Addax 91 2. DAMS 83 3. Racing Engineering 64 3. iSport 62 4. Lotus-ART 62