GP2: Marciello claims maiden win as Nasr cuts the gap to Palmer

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In another entertaining weekend of GP2 racing at Spa-Francorchamps, Ferrari junior driver Raffaele Marciello claimed his maiden race win after seeing off McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne in an epic feature race battle.

The two youngsters made the most of the wet conditions to surge ahead at the front of the field before scrapping for the race win in the final few laps of the race.

Just as the feature race got underway on Saturday, a heavy rain shower hit the circuit that was severe enough to warrant a red flag. American driver Conor Daly was the only casualty of the few laps in the rain, making a mistake and finishing his race in the gravel.

Vandoorne had held the lead from pole position, and quickly moved ahead at the front alongside Marciello. The McLaren junior appeared to have the race under control, enjoying a lead of a couple of seconds over the Racing Engineering driver before taking to the pits for a fresh set of intermediate tires.

Marciello stayed out a few laps longer, and was flying when he came back out on fresh tires. The Italian driver quickly reeled in Vandoorne before the two put on a fantastic duel at the front of the field, showing racecraft far beyond their years. In the end, Marciello found a way past at Rivage after getting a better run on the Belgian along the Kemmel straight.

After a difficult start to the season, it was an important win for Marciello to take, but he could only finish in 14th place in the sprint race on Sunday.

In the battle for the drivers’ title, Felipe Nasr managed to cut Jolyon Palmer’s lead at the top of the standings to 32 points after winning the sprint race on Sunday. The Brazilian could only qualify P11 on Saturday, but rallied to finish ahead of Palmer in both races and reduce the gap by eleven points.

In GP3, Red Bull junior Alex Lynn took a big step towards the championship by claiming his first win since the feature race in Austria. He now leads New Zealand’s Richie Stanaway by 32 points at the top of the standings.

Hartley’s F1 grid penalty streak continues in Abu Dhabi

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Brendon Hartley’s record of receiving a grid penalty at every Formula 1 race he has started is set to continue in Abu Dhabi this weekend after Toro Rosso was forced to change part of his Renault power unit following the last race in Brazil.

Since making his F1 debut at the United States Grand Prix last month, Hartley has faced a grid drop at all three races he has started so far amid ongoing reliability difficulties for power unit supplier Renault.

After being forced to retire from the last race in Brazil two weeks ago due to an engine issue, Hartley has received a 10-place grid penalty for Abu Dhabi after it was confirmed Toro Rosso had changed the MGU-H on his power unit.

Hartley is yet to score any points in F1, having retired from two of his three races so far to make his debut run to P13 in Austin his best result to date.

The Toro Rosso driver finished 20th in FP1 and 19th in FP2 during Friday’s practice sessions in Abu Dhabi as he continued to get to grips with the Yas Marina Circuit.