• GP2, Belgian Grand Prix, Race 1

Dominant Bird closes championship gap

ESPN Staff
August 24, 2013

Sam Bird took a dominant victory in the GP2 feature race at Spa-Francorchamps to close up on championship leaders Stefano Coletti and Felipe Nasr.

Both Coletti and Nasr failed to score while Bird led home Marcus Ericsson by seven seconds to close within 14 points of the championship lead. Fabio Leimer finished fourth behind Ericsson and Alexander Rossi to also strengthen his position in the standings, but James Calado had a disappointing race as he ended eighth having been second early on, though he will start from pole in the sprint race.

Calado had the best start from third place but Bird defended well in to La Source to hold on to the lead. Jolyon Palmer was another to have a good start and defended robustly against Ericsson in to Les Combes on lap two. Nasr dived up the inside of Ericsson at the start of lap 3 at La Source and Ericsson tried to fight back in to Les Combes but Nasr mirrored Palmer in his defence.

Bird had a comfortable lead but the safety car bunched up the pack when it was deployed after Nigel de Jong crashed heavily at Eau Rouge. De Jong had turned in on Haryanto behind him entering Eau Rouge, receiving an instant left rear puncture and sliding off in to the tyres.

On the restart Nasr tried to pass team-mate Palmer with a late lunge in to La Source and hit his team-mate, dropping Palmer out of the points and leaving Nasr unable to continue. A lap later Calado was first in to the pits as he had started on the soft tyres and had a slow stop with a right rear issue dropped him out of podium contention.

Bird eased away at the front and even set the fastest lap on used tyres, while behind him the battle for second during the pit stops was won by Ericsson ahead of Rossi and Leimer. Coletti had made decent progress up the field but after a slow pit stop he was hit from behind by Dani Clos at Eau Rouge as the speed differential between a car leaving the pits and one exiting La Source was evident, and Coletti eventually limped home 13th.

Canamasas had complained of a brake problem earlier in the race and appeared to have a rear brake failure as he went straight on in to the tyres at the Fagnes chicane at relatively low speed.

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