Cory Mackey has finally finished a race on the top step of the podium this season after coming close on three previous occasions.
The Ferrari duo locked the front row with Ivan Georgiev obtaining yet another Pole Position beating his teammate by 49 thousands of a second with a blistering lap of 1:09.448. Ezequiel Montero came a close 3rd just 0.080 off the lead. Janos Magasrevy qualified in 4th a full 7 tenths off Georgiev's time. The third row was made by Richard Walcott and Otto Acosta. P7 went to "The Ghost" David Carney with Richard Haynie next to him on P8. Row 5 was made by Adam Freitas in P9 and Mat Harto in P10.
Outside the top 10, we had Sean Higgins in P11, missing out Q2 by a little less than two tenths. Darren Fisher in P12, Jacobo Cardozo in P13, Jeff Oppenheim in P14. John Cook saw his quali run cut short after hitting the barrier at the piscine and bringing the car back to the garage with no time set in Q1. The other McLaren driven by Steve Carney was disqualified after the race for breaching article 15.8.
With Mercedes on the right and Ferrari on the left, the top four fed into a single line heading into turn one as Riera broke 130 meters before turn one, he held onto his top spot. Unfortunately, the American Corey Mackey didn’t hit the brake pedal until 50 meters later as he dived to the outside and swooped comfortably into the top spot. Georgiev needed to make an impact starting on the soft compound, but Montero held him at bay to make it top three and all on mediums. 17 cars made it through the first chicane unharmed, much to the dismay of Facelli’s Red Bull who started from pit lane.
After 5 laps around the familiar Catalunya circuit, 8th placed Darren Fisher was hanging onto a DRS train that saw 7 cars receiving a massive speed boost that saw the Renault top out at 336kph lap after lap. The other Renault of Carney was moving up and down the timing screen every time he exited the final turn.
Lap 6 Georgiev awakes and starts the attack on the medium running top three. A quick pass of Montero, 32 seconds before the lead finally changed with Riera back up front. Mackey appeared to have a distinct braking advantage throughout as he cruised back around the Mercedes a lap later with some minor contact on the way.
By lap 7, the 8 car train had attached two more cars with all of the points runners sharing the same straight. Magasrevy would earn the unfortunate honor of being the first driver to throw points away this evening with a spin at turn four after interlocking wheels with Hartos Sauber.
Ferrari had put up a strong fight to the silver arrows for the first 9 laps. Lap 10 would change everything. Mackey lost the lead of the race and lost the rear end of his car all on the same lap. A miraculous piece of awareness by his teammate stopped a Scuderia catastrophy at the chicane.
As the first round of stops concluded, Carney was moving quick…far too quick down the pitlane in fact. A drive through severely compromised the Canadiens day.
Sauber were running 6th and 7th until Mackey spun again at the final chicane causing both Sauber's to trade paint and put a halt on Harto and Mackey's charge. Walcott recovered relatively clean and would have a fairly lonely day from there, crossing the line just ahead of Haynie's Williams in 5th.
Acosta chased Georgiev home all night long creating a massive second gap to the cars behind. Almost enough of a gap to run the hard tires for 3 corners!
Up front it was a dominating Mercedes one-two however, Riera nailed the tough strategy to perfection, managing to stop only 3 times and crucially avoid the hard tires.
Higgins came up a lap short of 7th spot, Fisher and Cardozo finished 9th and 10th respectively.