Stoffel Vandoorne has claimed victory at his home race, taking the Feature Race chequered flag almost ten seconds ahead of Campos Racing’s Arthur Pic. Russian Time’s Artem Markelov came home third to secure his maiden GP2 Series podium.

The race provided excitement as soon as the lights turned green; pole sitter Vandoorne bogged down at the start which allowed Sergey Sirotkin to jump briefly into the lead of the race until he ran too deep into La Source.

Sirotkin’s mistake may have been a blessing in disguise for Vandoorne as Oliver Rowland, who started in second place, collided with Nobuharu Matsushita at La Source, causing a puncture and an early retirement for the Englishman.

Alexander Rossi made a brilliant start from eighth to second, and was faced with the task of trying to reel Vandoorne in, who had pulled a 1.4-second gap over the American.

While Vandoorne was making the most of starting the race on the soft tyre and building a comfortable lead, there was fierce racing for position within the top 10 where Alex Lynn made one of the passes of the season on Jordan King through Eau Rouge. King had passed Lynn at La Source, however Lynn refused to be beaten and received better traction out of Turn One, allowing him to bring himself alongside King on the inside and forced the Racing Engineering driver to yield through the infamous corner.

Lynn’s hard-earned fifth position didn’t last long as King slipped into the DAMS racer’s slipstream and was able to take the position back at Les Combes.

The safety car was brought out on lap six as Daniel de Jong attempted to pass Pierre Gasly on the outside of the Blanchimont corner, only to make contact with Gasly’s wheel resulting in a horrifying crash where de Jong’s car veered off head first into the tyre barriers.

After two laps the race was red flagged and the drivers returned to the pits while the debris of the MP Motorsport’s car was recovered and the tyre barrier repaired. It took a few minutes but it was confirmed via the GP2 Twitter account that De Jong was fine and in good spirits.

While the safety car was still out, Vandoorne took the opportunity to make his mandatory pitstop, he re-joined the field in ninth place before the race was stopped.

GP2 Spa podium

The Feature Race GP2 podium L-R): Arthur Pic, Stoffel Vandoorne and Artem Markelov.

Rossi decided to put on the soft compound tyre after he had started on the hard compound while the race was still under red flag conditions. This didn’t count as his mandatory pit stop and he would have to return to the pits later in the race.

The race resumed with under the safety car with Rossi leading Mitch Evans, Sirotkin and King. The following lap more carnage ensued as Nobuharu Matsushita made a late dive on Nick Yelloly’s sole-running Hilmer, causing both of them to retire.

Rossi had chewed through his tyres by Lap 14, so he made his pit stop while Evans stayed out one extra lap before visiting the pits. This left Sirotkin to re-take the lead while Vandoorne had made his way from ninth to second on the harder tyre.

Vandoorne inherited the lead once Sirotkin pitted on Lap 19, while Rio Haryanto had moved his way up into second position after starting eleventh. However, since he stalled his car before the race restart and his mechanics had to start it again, he received a ten-second stop-go penalty, ruining his race.

While the red flag may have thrown a spanner in the works for some drivers, it played perfectly into the hands for Pic who elevated himself into second position from fourteenth, and Markelov, who held off Julián Leal in the final laps to finish third after starting in twenty-second position.

While the podium positions had been sorted, the race for fifth was heating up on the final lap as Evans had caught Rossi. Evans made a considerable lunge into the final chicane on Rossi and both drivers ran too deep off the track. Evans re-joined ahead of Rossi, although the result was initially provisional as the move was made outside of the track. The Stewards ruled to let the result stand as the telemetry showed neither driver had any prospect of taking the chicane correctly.

The Stewards were kept busy with a number of post-race time penalties that saw multiple drivers demoted from their original finishing positions.

Richie Stanaway, Marlon Stöckinger, Sean Gelael and Pierre Gasly were found guilty of not slowing down during the safety Car period. As a consequence, they were given a 10-second Stop/Go penalty after the event, which was applied as a 30-second addition to the elapsed race time.

Stöckinger therefore lost his first GP2 Series point finish, promoting newcomer Gustav Malja to tenth place instead.

Nick Yelloly also failed to slow down during the Safety Car period, but since he did not finish the race, he was handed a ten-place grid penalty for Sunday’s Sprint Race. As he will not be able to take it in full, he will start from the pitlane.

In addition to his time penalty, Gasly was found guilty of causing that collision with Daniiel de Jong on Lap 5. The Stewards considered that Frenchman moved to the right of the track, causing the accident with de Jong, who had a significant portion of his car alongside Gasly’s. As a consequence, the DAMS driver was given another 10-second time penalty added to his elapsed race time.

2015 GP2 Series Belgium – Feature Race Final Classification (25 laps)
Driver Team / Entry Laps Result
1. Stoffel Vandoorne be ART Grand Prix 25 1:22:18.099
2. Arthur Pic fr Campos Racing 25 + 9.979
3. Artem Markelov ru Russian Time 25 + 12.856
4. Julián Leal co Carlin 25 + 13.106
5. Mitch Evans nz Russian Time 25 + 19.264
6. Alexander Rossi us Racing Engineering 25 + 19.527
7. Nathanaël Berthon fr Daiko Team Lazarus 25 + 23.723
8. Jordan King uk Racing Engineering 25 + 29.267
9. Sergey Sirotkin ru Rapax 25 + 34.144
10. Gustav Malja se Trident 25 + 35.169
11. Alex Lynn uk DAMS 25 + 35.610
12. Sergio Canamasas es Daiko Team Lazarus 25 + 35.797
13. Rio Haryanto id Campos Racing 25 + 41.571
14. Raffaele Marciello it Trident 25 + 46.546
15. Robert Vișoiu ro Rapax 25 + 51.632
16. André Negrão br Arden International 25 + 1:03.453
17. Marlon Stöckinger^ ph Status Grand Prix 25 + 1:04.859
18. Richie Stanaway^ nz Status Grand Prix 25 + 1:13.894
19. Pierre Gasly^ fr DAMS 25 + 1:15.857
20. Sean Galeal^ id Carlin 25 + 1:20.840
Not Classified Team / Entry Laps Result
NC. Oliver Rowland uk MP Motorsport 18 7 laps behind
DNF. Nick Yelloly uk Hilmer Motorsport 11 Damage
DNF. Nobuharu Matsushita jp ART Grand Prix 10 Collision
DNF. Daniël de Jong nl MP Motorsport 4 Accident
DNF. Norman Nato fr Arden International 0 Collision

^Post-race penalties:

  • Pierre Gasly was found guilty of causing the collision with Daniel de Jong that led to the Dutchman’s accident on the fifth lap of the race. Gasly was awarded a 10-second time penalty added to his elapsed race time
  • Richie Stanaway, Marlon Stöckinger, Sean Gelael and Pierre Gasly were all ruled to have failed to slow sufficiently during the Safety Car period and were each awarded a 10-second Stop/Go penalty (applied as a 30-second time penalty to their elapsed race time).
  • Nick Yelloly was also ruled to have failed to sufficiently slow during the Safety Car period, but as he did not finish the race, his punishment is a 10-place grid drop for Sunday’s Sprint Race. As he will be unable to take the penalty in full, he must start the race from Pit Lane.

Images via GP2 Series Media

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Josh Kruse

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