Raffaele Marciello overcame Stoffel Vandoorne in a pulsating wheel-to-wheel duel to register his first victory in GP2 in the feature race at Spa-Francorchamps.
GP2 championship standings
- 1. Jolyon Palmer 200 pts
- 2. Felipe Nasr 161 pts
- 3. Stoffel Vandoorne 131 pts
- 4. Johnny Cecotto Jr 115 pts
- 5.Stefano Coletti 96 pts
Pole-sitter Vandoorne had led for most of the race but struggled on his wet tyres late on, allowing Marciello to reel him in with incredible pace in the final part of the race and pass at Les Combes after a titanic one-and-a-half lap battle between the McLaren and Ferrari junior drivers. The result is a long overdue victory for the highly-rated Italian, who eventually finished two seconds clear of Vandoorne, with Johnny Cecotto Jr a lonely third behind that.
At the first start Vandoorne held off championship leader Jolyon Palmer, who dropped backwards after getting some wheelspin off the line. A downpour soon followed and after just two laps the red flags were out, however, meaning Vandoorne would need to do it all again after restarting behind the safety car.
When the safety car came in Vandoorne, at his home race, made a mistake at La Source which allowed Cecotto through, but the Venezuelan was ordered to give the lead the back at the end of the lap after running wide at Les Combes despite appearing to back off to nullify any advantage gained. From there Vandoorne pulled away and appeared to be in full control, while Marciello dispatched Cecotto himself a few laps later.
Vandoorne and Marciello were then in a world of their own, but the complexion of the race changed after the pit stop. Both took on fresh wets but Marciello clearly had better grip and confidence on his rubber and hunted down Vandoorne before his thrilling pass, which came after several laps of impressive defensive driving from the Belgian in front.
Behind that Cecotto kept Nasr comfortably at bay to secure a podium, while Mitch Evans finished ahead of Palmer - who only just managed to keep Artem Markelov at bay as the Russian scored his first GP2 points in seventh. Daniel Abt claimed reverse grid pole for the sprint race, passing Andre Negrao for eighth on the penultimate lap, while Daniel De Jong stole 10th from Adrian Quaife-Hobbs on the final lap.