- GP2, Belgian Grand Prix, Race 1
Grosjean champion as Vietoris wins
Christian Vietoris won a dramatic GP2 feature race as the Spa-Francorchamps weather took hold once again.
Following a long safety car period, Jules Bianchi was second ahead of Romain Grosjean, and Giedo van der Garde's failure to score meant that was enough for the DAMS driver to secure the GP2 championship with three races remaining. Luca Fillipi was fourth ahead of a very impressive Brendon Hartley in fifth.
At the start, Vietoris led away from pole as the right hand side of the grid got away cleanly but Michael Herck had a slow getaway. As the grid filed its way through La Source van der Garde speared off to the left having got on to the wet Astroturf and he damaged his front wing against the barriers. Grosjean made a great start and outdragged Marcus Ericsson for third place up to Les Combes.
At the start of the second lap Charles Pic spun under braking in to turn one and took out Luis Razia. The race at the front settled down somewhat as the front five pulled away, with Vietoris enjoying a good gap over Bianchi and Grosjean, who was sitting in the ideal position to secure the championship with van der Garde at the back.
The whole grid then seemed to be waiting for rain to arrive as overtaking was made more difficult by moisture offline. Sam Bird, fighting has way back up from 20th after an accident in qualifying, put a fantastic move on Rodolfo Gonzalez in to Eau Rouge for 15th. Bird continued to climb through the field before the rain started to fall.
As the rain began to come down heavily in the pit lane at the half way point, drivers began to dive in for wet tyres. The leaders had all gone round though, and Filippi got down the inside of Ericsson in to turn one. By the time Vietoris led them in to the busy pit lane the rain was very heavy.
Julian Leal spun in Eau Rouge coming over the brow and stalled, causing the safety car to be deployed. The heavy rain was causing issues thought even under safety car conditions, and Stefano Coletti ran in to the back of Mikhail Aleshin heading down to Pouhon similar to Michael Schumacher's incident with David Coulthard in 1998.
Max Chilton was the next casualty as he was stuck in neutral. The safety car seemed to have the opposite effect though, as slow cars prevented it from passing and caused the whole field to crawl around, with some drivers catching the back of the pack at dangerously high speeds. It led to a very strange few laps as drivers were putting two wheels on the grass as they followed the safety car, which stayed out as Coletti was receiving treatment in his car at Pouhon.
An accident occurred at the top of Radillon as Gonzalez ran in to the back of van der Garde. Then Ericsson came to a stop on the side of the track, while Bird was seen going very slowly before re-engaging gear and trying to catch up with the pack again. Time soon became the order of the day as the race continued behind the safety car, despite Coletti's accident having been cleared.
The stewards allowed one final lap of racing as the safety car came in with two minutes to go, and Vietoris led away. The battle for eighth and pole for the sprint race became the main focus, and Johnny Cecotto appeared to have secured it after passing Fauzy until he lost drive out of the final corner and dropped to eleventh, allowing Fauzy to secure the reverse pole. Behind Cecotto, Bird and Varhaug went in to the final corner side-by-side and Bird came out on top after being forced off the track.