Lotus’s Esteban Gutierrez took his second feature race win on the bounce at Silverstone, promoting himself to third in the drivers’ standings.
With Stefano Coletti demoted on the grid for failing to provide a fuel sample, Gutierrez and team-mate James Calado started fourth and fifth on the grid. The wet conditions were extreme, and the decision was taken to drive the first seven laps behind the safety car. Once the race got underway, Esteban held his position. Pole-sitter Fabio Leimer was able to pull away while the following cars dealt with poor visibility. Esteban was brought into the pits for an early stop, and he used this to great effect, undercutting both third-placed Jolyon Palmer and second-place Johnny Cecotto Jr.
Then Calado, stopped out on track signaling the safety car’s reappearance. A gearbox electrics issue rid the Englishman of a strong result at home. He had been running fifth at that point. Leimer had yet to take his mandatory stop as he was led by the safety car, the field bunching up behind him and his nine second lead wiped out. When the race got underway again, Esteban kept his cool knowing that the lead was his to inherit. A crash from Coletti sparked another safety car, and any hope Leimer had of creating another gap was gone. He was forced to pit and slid to 15th. Esteban pushed hard at the restart to build a comfortable lead over Cecotto, winning the race by 1.7 seconds and posting the fastest lap on the run to the chequered flag.
The Mexican put in another strong performance in Sunday’s sprint race to finish fourth, having started P8 on the reverse grid. Fabrizio Crestani passed him at the start, but once he was comfortable with the dry but slippery conditions and got a rhythm Esteban ate his way back into point-scoring positions. Having dispensed with Crestani the 20-year-old set his sights on Max Chilton for P7, then Nigel Melker for P6 while defending from a resurgent Jolyon Palmer. He did so successfully and nailed Melker, snatching fifth place from Guido van der Garde who killed his tyres early. At this point Esteban’s pace made him a podium threat. He was all over fourth-placed Cecotto like a cheap suit but struggled to find a way past the Venezuelan. Two laps to go he did it, and then found himself riding Felipe Nasr’s gearbox and staring at a podium. He made the move but locked up his wheels, and Cecotto seized the opportunity to retake fourth. Screaming down to Stowe corner on the last lap Esteban made a do-or-die move around the outside. Cecotto drifted wide touching Esteban and forcing him off the track. The Lotus driver returned to the track but with wet slick tyres lost control and banged into Cecotto. Cecotto crashed out but Esteban regained control and, with a flat tyre and broken front wing, crossed the finish line in fourth place, earning eight points.
Calado crashed out on Lap 19 from tenth place as he desperately tried to fight his way from the back into the point-scoring Top 8. He took out Max Chilton, which has earned him a ten-place penalty for Hockenheim
Gutierrez, too, was handed a penalty. The stewards, having investigated the last lap incident, announced that Esteban will get the same penalty as Calado. His points from Silverstone are unaffected.
Having begun the weekend sixth in the championship, Esteban’s 35 points have elevated him to sixth and he now sits on 122, stretching the gap between him and Calado to 27 points. Luiz Razia, who won Sunday’s sprint race, now leads with 165. Lotus leads the teams championship from DAMS with a total of 217 points to 205.
Esteban Gutierrez: “I’m very happy with this weekend, it feels terrific to win two weekends in a row. Thirty-five points is fantastic and I’m pleased to leave Silverstone third in the championship. July is an important month, with three races, and my aim is to score big points in each and close the gap to Luiz [Razia] and Davide [Valsecchi]. With the penalty in Hockenheim it will make things more difficult, that’s for sure, but we have to accept the stewards’ decision.”
James Calado: “Qualifying was quite wet, and my first time at Silverstone in the wet so to be fifth was reasonable. I was following Esteban for the majority of Race 1, until he went into the pits. I pushed really hard, got a good stop, but when I can out there was a big red ‘F’ on the dash and everything stopped. It was an electric failure than caused the gearbox to completely shut down. By retiring I had to start Race 2 last. The pace was really good, I was overtaking pretty much every lap. Two laps from the end I made a move on [Max] Chilton at Becketts, we touched and crashed. I had nothing to lose, I had to try and score a point. The potential was there for podiums this weekend, so it’s just unlucky.”