Racing Engineering took a podium finish for Raffaele Marciello in Saturday’s Feature race at Sochi, and a point for Stefano Coletti in Sunday’s Sprint race, but both drivers failed to finish the other race in Russia.
Marciello qualified fifth but dropped a place at the start, and was running ninth having made his pit stop when the safety car was deployed to rescue Coletti’s stricken car, although this was third place of the drivers who had stopped. He battled hard with Campos Racing’s Arthur Pic, swapping places more than once, and claimed the podium finish after everyone completed their pit stops.
He dedicated it to his fellow Ferrari Driver Academy driver Jules Bianchi who remains in a Japanese hospital with serious injuries after his crash in the Japanese F1 Grand Prix.
“The start was OK as I think it was better to lose a position or two there instead of ten by risking too much,” said Marciello on Saturday. “I had a good opening lap, where I recovered the positions lost at the start. The safety car helped a bit afterwards. I fought hard for a position with Pic after, which allowed me to finish on the podium today. I am really happy with this 3rd position, as it was my goal to finish on the podium today – for Jules. This podium is dedicated to him.”
It was a very different race on Sunday however, with the Italian crashing out after suffering a puncture in a clash with Artem Markelov of Russian Time. He had already lost a number of places after a bad start and a brief spin at the final corner, and was looking to get back into the points when he had his altercation with Markelov that ended his race in the barriers.
“This was a quite bad race for us,” said Marciello after his Sprint race retirement. “I started like yesterday, so not so well, losing some positions. I recovered well during the opening laps and was back in P6. Our pace was not bad, but when I spun in the last corner, I dropped back to 11th place. And when I had contact with another car, I was out of the race.”
Team-mate Coletti qualified eighth, and was on course for a good result on Saturday but an electrical fault saw him stop at the side of the circuit.
“Not one of the best starts I’ve had this season, but I managed to keep my position,” said Coletti after the Feature race. “I was actually virtually in P7 as Nasr was given a drive through penalty. My car went quicker and quicker and I was faster than the cars in front of me. But then I suddenly suffered from an electric problem and the car just stopped.”
On Sunday, he enjoyed a fantastic fight back that saw him climb from twenty-fifth on the grid to finish eighth and take home a point. He managed to make a number of passes to get into the top ten, and made a great move on Pierre Gasly and Markelov to pass both at the same time to complete the points scorers.
“It was a fun race,” insisted Coletti on Sunday. “I had a quite good start and good first corners. Unfortunately, I was hit by another car in turn 4 and lost several places; I think some 11 or 12, when I was already up to P11. I then started to push and my car was quite quick so I went from P25 to P8. I am very happy about this race.”