Gutiérrez claims victory in dramatic feature
Mexican inherits win from Leimer
Esteban Gutiérrez has taken his second feature race victory in a row with a strong display in changeable conditions this afternoon in Silverstone. The Mexican’s win was aided when race leader Fabio Leimer failed to pit during a safety car period, and he held on to the flag ahead of Johnny Cecotto and Julian Palmer.
With torrential rain flooding the circuit just ahead of the start, the race director had little choice but to start the race behind the safety car, with Felipe Nasr, Davide Valsecchi and Stefano Coletti taking advantage of the delay to make their pitstop on lap six, one ahead of the race running live at last.
Poleman Leimer made a strong start when released to easily lead Cecotto and Palmer into the first corner ahead of Gutiérrez and Lotus teammate James Calado, while behind them Nigel Melker was on the rampage, scalping Luiz Razia and Max Chilton for P6 before the lap was done. But no one could do anything about the pace of the race leader, who set a string of fastest laps to build a substantial lead in short order.
Gutiérrez was the first of the leading group to change tyres, coming in from P4 on lap 15 and returning to the circuit in P12, with Calado following his lead next time through. Palmer also pitted a couple of laps later, but lost a place to the Mexican in the process, and as he exited his countryman Calado stopped on track just by the pitlane exit, prompting a safety car period to remove the stricken vehicle.
Next time round all of the remaining leaders dived into the pits to make their change before their rivals arrived: all of them, that is, except for Leimer, who was now stuck behind the safety car but in front of Gutiérrez, with the uncomfortable knowledge that he was now the only driver still to pit. The race went live on lap 21 until Coletti, who had gambled on another stop for slicks, lost his bet and spun at Bridge, prompting a return of the safety car.
The Swiss driver came into the pits next time through, undoing all of his hard work in a moment, and when the race went live once more 2 laps later there was only 3 minutes remaining on the clock. Gutiérrez made his life easy with a couple of fastest laps ahead of the chequered flag, with Cecotto crossing the line behind him for a solid second place.
Palmer was the next man through, holding on for third ahead of a charging Melker, who was also watching the mirrors for Razia in fifth, while DAMS pair Nasr and Valsecchi made their strategy work with a strong 6th and 7th respectively. Tomorrow’s poleman will be Giedo van der Garde, who pushed all race to overcome his grid penalty and claimed P8 on the last lap by Chilton and Fabrizio Crestani, who had salt rubbed into the wound when Rio Haryanto stole 10th on the line.
The results meant that the championship lead was passed from Valsecchi to Razia, who now heads the field 150 points to 147, while Gutiérrez’s wins put him onto the podium on 114 points, ahead of teammate Calado and Chilton on 95, who are both 2 points clear of van der Garde. But for now, champagne and the applause of the pitlane were all the Mexican was thinking about, with the chance to improve his position a consideration for tomorrow.