The Racing Engineering team had quick cars at Silverstone for the British round of the GP2 Series season. Ferrari Driver Academy driver Raffaele Marciello took pole position and led the Feature race early on before his weekend unravelled with a mechanical issue before being spun out of the Sprint race, while Stefano Coletti struggled in qualifying but salvaged a fourth and a second place in the two races.
It was a case of what might have been for Marciello at Silverstone. He was instantly quick in practice, and took his maiden series pole position. After the breakthrough of his maiden points and podiums in Austria, it was another sign of the Italian getting to grips of the car.
“I am very happy with my first pole position in GP2 after the difficult start I had to the season,” said Marciello. “After Austria we knew that things are shaping up and with each session there was an improvement and my engineer understands me and what I want more and more.”
He made a good start and was over a second clear of the pack on the opening lap of the Feature race, and made the medium Pirelli tyre last further than anybody else who started on that compound. Unfortunately he was fed out into traffic, and was embroiled in a battle with Jon Lancaster and Rio Haryanto, neither whom had made their compulsory pit stop, when his car suffered a loss of power that resulted in the Italian being forced to pull over to the side of the track into retirement.
Although he might not have won the race with the pace of Jolyon Palmer and Mitch Evans being so fast up front, a podium was surely on the cards.
“My race start was good and also the strategy was the best for me,” described Marciello. “I could have overtaken Haryanto on the following lap and would have been in free air, allowing me to go at my own rhythm. I would have definitely finished on the podium today, but a gear problem stopped me.”
Starting right at the back in twenty-sixth for the Sprint race, he made another good start and had made up six positions by the first corner, but unfortunately was the innocent victim of Sergio Canamasas and Artem Markelov banging wheels at that first corner that saw the Italian’s rear suspension break, spinning Marciello into the gravel trap.
“I had a good start and overtook quite a few cars when Canamasas and Markelov had contact in turn 1 and crashed into me. I went off track and my race finished there. All my recent starts were really good; we have the pace, so it’s all there. We will fight back in Germany.”
Team-mate Coletti was disappointed with his qualifying effort after finding traffic on both runs that resulted in the Monaco driver starting the Feature race down in eleventh.
“The first qualifying run wasn’t great,” admitted Coletti. “I didn’t use the tyres properly and also found some traffic. On the second stint I had traffic on two of my fast laps, but that’s part of the game. I should have done it the lap before. Nevertheless it’s a long race and a lot depends on the first laps.”
Coletti made a good start to run in the top six early in the race, and shadowed Stoffel Vandoorne and Felipe Nasr up until the pit stops. He had a battle with Julian Leal over the closing laps, and after Marciello’s retirement and Nasr’s slow pit stop, he crossed the line fifth, only to be promoted to fourth after Leal was penalised post-race for forcing the Monegasque driver off the track on the final lap while the Carlin driver attempted to overtake.
“Overall it was a good race considering that I started from 11th on the grid,” said Coletti. “The fight during the final lap [with Leal] was a bit intense as I left the other car space on two occasions, but was pushed off the track by the other driver.”
His Sprint race saw another great start, and he slipped into second place behind Nasr. Coletti suffered a brief moment of worry when he reported a loss of power, but he was able to manage the issue and finish in second place for his second podium of the season.
“The car was really good today, we made a big step forward and it was perfect to drive,” said Coletti. “It was my goal today to set the fastest lap and I was close to Nasr, but as soon as my engine problems started, I slowed down. I went easy on it to finish the race. I am happy with the races given that we were only 11th in qualifying. Everyone in the team did a great job.”
Sporting Director Thomas Couyotopoulo praised both drivers for their weekends’ work, but was ultimately disappointed with the end results, especially for Marciello who was forced out of both races through no fault of his own. He wanted the team to score big points with both drivers.
“Overall we had very mixed results this weekend,” said Couyotopoulo. “With Lello starting so well on Friday and taking his first GP2 pole, he was unlucky in the two races. While Saturday a mechanical failure outside our control kept him from finishing on the podium, another car crashed into him today taking him out of the race after a really good start. It’s a shame as he does brilliant starts now, definitely has the pace and we are simply a bit unlucky. But we are sure that in Germany things will fall into place for him and he will be back in the top spots.
“For Stefano, on the other hand, after our 1-2 in free practice, qualifying didn’t go too well, but he had two good races finishing in 4th and 2nd, allowing him to score important points. Today’s [Sunday] race, in particular, was quite exciting as after a really good start we once more set the fastest lap time in the race, but a misfiring engine meant that the strategy changed from attacking for the win to bring the car home in 2nd place.
“Overall the weekend wasn’t bad, but we definitely prefer seeing both our drivers taking big points.”