Hockenheim GP2: Stefano Coletti uses tyre gamble to win thriller
|By Charles Bradley||Sunday, July 20th 2014, 09:46 GMT|
Stefano Coletti won a thrilling GP2 sprint race at Hockenheim, as a slick-tyre gamble on the grid paid off for the Racing Engineering driver's first win in over a year.
Heavy rain fell 10 minutes before the start of the race, and although the track was soaked a number of drivers made the brave call to start on slick tyres, including frontrunners Felipe Nasr (fourth on the grid) and Coletti (fifth). The majority started on wets.
The slick starters tumbled down the order immediately, as poleman Nathanael Berthon led from a fast-starting Mitch Evans (up from eighth) and Marco Sorensen.
Coletti was the first of the slick-shod cars in 13th when the safety car was required to retrieve Stephane Richelmi's DAMS car, which had caught fire after a clash with Johnny Cecotto Jr at Turn 1.
At the restart, Berthon fell backwards quickly, with Saturday's winner Evans briefly leading until he ran wide at Turn 1 and allowed Stoffel Vandoorne to hit the front. Evans then tumbled backwards, as Sorensen came up to second.
By lap 10, Coletti started setting purple sector times as the crossover period arrived. Jolyon Palmer was the first frontrunner to pit, when running fourth. Coletti had been over 45 seconds off leader Vandoorne, but quickly made big gains at this point.
Vandoorne's decision about when to pit was made for him when a safety car was required to recover Arthur Pic's spun car, so all the leaders pitted for slicks.
Coletti grabbed the lead as Vandoorne pitted, the Belgian rejoining ahead of Nasr and Sorensen.
When the race resumed, Nasr passed Vandoorne for second after a huge scrap and chased after Coletti. He got the gap down to a second, but Coletti had pace to spare and won through by 1.2s, taking fastest lap on the final tour.
"It feels great," said Coletti. "We saw two years ago it dries really quickly here, but it was very difficult at the beginning."
Vandoorne finished third, ahead of Sorensen, an impressive Jon Lancaster, Palmer, Alexander Rossi (who also started on slicks) and Adrian Quaife-Hobbs.
Hard luck stories included Coletti's team-mate Raffaele Marciello, whose car stuck in sixth gear just as he was challenging Sorensen, causing him to go off.
Evans finished 11th.
Results - 26 laps: Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Stefano Coletti Racing Engineering 45m31.696s 2. Felipe Nasr Carlin +1.238s 3. Stoffel Vandoorne ART +5.531s 4. Marco Sorensen MP +15.656s 5. Jon Lancaster Hilmer +17.961s 6. Jolyon Palmer DAMS +18.401s 7. Alexander Rossi Campos +19.840s 8. Adrian Quaife-Hobbs Rapax +24.222s 9. Tom Dillmann Caterham +25.438s 10. Rio Haryanto Caterham +36.088s 11. Mitch Evans Russian Time +39.177s 12. Artem Markelov Russian Time +40.186s 13. Sergio Canamasas Trident +45.938s 14. Simon Trummer Rapax +52.486s 15. Daniel Abt Hilmer +54.865s 16. Daniel de Jong MP +55.552s 17. Nathanael Berthon Lazarus +56.878s 18. Julian Leal Carlin +1m03.994s 19. Takuya Izawa ART +1m08.828s 20. Conor Daly Lazarus +1m09.713s 21. Andre Negrao Arden +1m12.677s 22. Rene Binder Arden +1m15.032s Retirements: Johnny Cecotto Trident 21 laps Arthur Pic Campos 11 laps Raffaele Marciello Racing Engineering 7 laps Stephane Richelmi DAMS 0 laps