Not running nearly as well as Kral and Calado at the front of the field, however: and Kral was relishing the clear air and unfamiliar sights of being out in the lead, easily a match for anything Calado could throw at him. Behind them were Felipe Nasr, Julian Leal, Stéphane Richelmi, Rio Haryanto, Esteban Gutiérrez and Fabio Onidi making up the top eight, as the race bedded in and everyone seemed fairly content with following the car in front for the first half of the race.
The exception to the rule was Gutiérrez, who made good passes on Haryanto and then Richelmi, but found Leal another matter altogether. Gradually his patience wore thin, and on lap 9 it wore out altogether and he attempted a rash move on the run into Malmedy that ended in contact. Gutiérrez spun and both cars ended up going through the gravel. Both resumed after their off-track excursion, but Leal was 11th and Gutiérrez 13th - another black mark for the Mexican in what had been intended to be his breakthrough sophomore year in which we should be challenging for the championship but instead is being soundly shown up by his rookie team mate Calado.
The vacant places in the top eight were taken by iSport's Marcus Ericsson and Racing Engineering's Fabio Leimer, who pulled off the overtake of the race right around the outside of Onidi at Blanchimont with seven laps to go, as he sought to retrieve something from the weekend that had left him starting the sprint race from a lowly 23rd place on the grid.
Ericsson was even more astounding, up into fourth position in short order as tyre wear started to take its toll on others. Even so, he was five seconds off the next car up the road and even the feature race winner had nothing left to do anything about the gap, having to settle instead for fourth place. Leimer ended just behind him in fifth after dispensing Haryanto a lap after Onidi and then finishing off a slowing Richelmi next time around.
As the laps ticked down, there was a conspicuous lack of movement among the top three. Kral had things well in hand at the front and Calado seemed satisfied with second. But in third place, Nasr was simply biding his time and taking care of his tyres for one of his trademark late-race surges, and sure enough as the cars went into the penultimate lap Nasr closed right up to the back of Calado and prepared to pounce.
However, as many racing drivers have found in the past, catching is one thing and passing quite another. Despite the fact that he was clearly faster and running on rails compared to the fading Lotus, Nasr couldn't find a way past. In contrast to his earlier spat with Razia, Calado was now playing it calm and safe: nothing rash, just planting his car in the most inconvenient part of the track and daring Nasr to try something. That frustrated Nasr for a whole lap, and as they went into La Source for the final time Nasr was tempted to try cutting around the outside of Calado at the hairpin which could have resulted in the end of both of their races. Disaster was averted, and Nasr regrouped - finally taking Calado through the Bus Stop and on the run to the chequered flag to claim second position with a carbon copy of his move on Richelmi for eighth place in the feature race the day before.
"It was a good fight with Calado and we had a fair battle," said Nasr, although he betrayed his frustration by adding that the Lotus driver has been "on the edge sometimes, maybe." Certainly he was aware that the delayed battle over second had cost him his shot of taking the fight to Kral: "If I had passed Calado earlier on, or if I didn't lose so much time in the beginning, I could have caught Kral and maybe fought for the win," he said.
Kral was more than happy with that state of affairs, as he celebrated his maiden win in the series: "My best racing weekend ever in GP2," he told the GP2 Media Service in post-race interviews. "From the beginning of yesterday's race to the end of today's race there was nothing that I would change on the car, because it was so good.
"It means a lot, because we've been waiting for such a long time," he added. "This gives us more confidence, and it's a little but unfortunate that it has come this late [in the season] because we should have done this earlier, but anyway it's good that it came and now we have to work with this [going into Monza.]"
Other than Cecotto and Valsecchi, the only other retirement was Sergio Canamasas, whose smoking Venezuela GP Lazarus came to a half on a run-off area on lap 9; and apart from Cecotto, there were no other post-race penalties announced by the stewards.
Full sprint race results