Stoffel Vandoorne took another Feature race victory at Spa-Francorchamps in a race marred by a huge crash at Blanchimont by Daniel de Jong that caused a forty-minute red flag.
It had already been a race full of incident before MP Motorsport’s de Jong was pitched at high-speed into the barriers, as Pierre Gasly did not acknowledge that the Dutchman was alongside the DAMS driver, with de Jong a passenger as he struck the barriers.
The race was initially nullified by the safety car as marshals and the medical team attended to de Jong, but due to the damage to the barrier saw the race halted with a red flag, with drivers being lined-up in the pit lane as they awaited the restart.
ART Grand Prix driver Vandoorne initially lost the lead at the start to the fast starting Sergey Sirotkin, but the Russian driver overshot the first corner to allow the Belgian driver back into the lead.
Fellow front-row starter Oliver Rowland was also slow away in his MP Motorsport entry, and was caught up in a first corner incident with ART Grand Prix’s Nobuharu Matsushita, compromising both drivers’ afternoon. Rowland was forced to return to the pits with a puncture, while Matsushita ran towards the back before retiring after a second clash with Hilmer Motorsport’s Nick Yelloly.
The safety car and subsequent red flag saw a number of drivers races compromised, with Vandoorne and a number of other drivers making their mandatory pit stops behind the safety car, while those drivers starting on the medium Pirelli tyre were forced to pit when the race resumed.
This compromised the races of Alexander Rossi and Mitch Evans, who switched from the medium to the soft tyre in the pit lane, and ran a different strategy to make good moves at the end of the race to climb back up the order in the closing laps.
Vandoorne ultimately was untouchable as he took his fifth win of the season, winning by 9.979s from Arthur Pic of Campos Racing, who took his best result of the season so far by also being on the same strategy as the race winner after pitting behind the safety car.
The same could be said for the final podium finisher Artem Markelov, who took his maiden series podium for Russian Time after starting twenty-second, holding off the challenge of Carlin driver Julian Leal, while the second Russian Time of Evans jumped ahead of Racing Engineering’s Rossi at the final corner of the last lap for fifth.
Nathanael Berthon took seventh for Daiko Team Lazarus ahead of Jordan King of Racing Engineering, who will take reverse grid pole position for the Sprint race on Sunday.
Sirotkin lost out during the pit stop cycle to ultimately finish ninth for Rapax, while the final point went to debutant Gustav Malja of Trident after initial top-ten finisher Marlon Stockinger was penalised for failing to slow sufficiently at the de Jong crash zone in his Status Grand Prix car.
Gasly was penalised for the same offence as Stockinger, and also incurred a second penalty for causing the incident with de Jong, ultimately ending down in nineteenth position.
Rio Haryanto was on course for a podium finish, having just passed Campos team-mate Pic, but was then handed a drive-through penalty after his team restarted his car in the pit lane after the Indonesian driver had stalled on the restart after the fifteen-second warning had been given.
Spa-Francorchamps Feature Race Result
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