• GP2, Belgian Grand Prix, Race 1

Ericsson wins hectic feature race

ESPN Staff
September 1, 2012
Marcus Ericsson celebrates on the podium © Sutton Images

Marcus Ericsson won a hectic GP2 feature race at Spa-Francorchamps after Nigel Melker suffered a huge crash at Eau Rouge that resulted in a lengthily stoppage.

Ericsson eventually finished comfortably ahead of James Calado after building a lead following the restart. However, the race was closely fought for the most part and packed with incidents. Melker's accident was by far the biggest as he over corrected a slide in Eau Rouge and speared off the circuit and into the tyre barriers. He was clearly conscious after the accident and tried to get out of the car before marshals came to his aid.

There was then a long safety car period as he was carefully transferred to an ambulance. The frontrunners decided to pit, with Rio Haryanto, who had started on pole but lost the lead, coming out in front. However, his cold tyres caught him by surprise and he spun off as he rejoined behind the safety car.

The ambulance then took to the track and there was a bizarre moment as it led 20-odd GP2 cars through Les Combes. At that point the race director rightly decided to red flag the race and Melker was flown out of the circuit by helicopter. However, without the medical helicopter at the circuit the race was not allowed to restart and that resulted in the drivers waiting for over 30 minutes on the grid. Some chose to answer a call of nature in the nearby paddock, while others relieved themselves against the pit wall.

When the race did restart it was Giedo van der Garde that led the field away under a rolling start because he opted not to pit under the safety car. Ericsson was the highest placed driver who had made a mandatory pit stop and did himself a huge favour by overtaking Simon Trummer, who had not made a pit stop, and using the Arden car as a buffer to build up a gap over Calado. By the time every car had visited the pits the road was clear for Ericsson to take his first victory since Valencia 2010.

Championship challenger Davide Valsecchi finished third, but his result was still provisional at the time of writing as the stewards were investigating an unsafe release from his pit stop that caused Fabio Onidi to take avoiding action and stall. Josef Kral finished fourth ahead of van der Garde and Luiz Razia, who saw his championship lead reduced to zero by Valsecchi (assuming the result stands).

Julian Leal finished seventh ahead of Felipe Nasr, who took eighth and pole position for the sprint race by overtaking Stephane Richelmi out of the final corner. Haryanto recovered to tenth to take the final point on offer. Esteban Gutierrez finished just outside the points after being served with a drive-through penalty for overtaking his team-mate under yellow flags early in the race.