Alexandre Pr?mat looked on course for a well-deserved third GP2 Series victory in Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday, setting laps sometimes two seconds faster than any other driver, but did not get the reward his effort deserved when he was pushed out of the race at the last of four restarts.

The ART Grand Prix driver had qualified second on the grid at the Belgian venue, overcoming the soaking wet conditions and a free practice session that had comprised just four laps before a collision with the barriers at Pouhon ended his track time.

Despite conditions at the start of the race being as bad as they had all day, Premat made an impressive start and was already leading going through Eau Rouge. His first lap pace was devastating as he opened gap over the rest of the field, and was two seconds in front when the first safety car appeared. The speed hadn't abated and, when the second safety period began, was six seconds in front again.

This time, the ART team decided to call the Frenchman in for his mandatory pit-stop, doing their job perfectly to enable him to resume in front of the other drivers employing the same tactic.

"It rained a bit during lap seven, and the second safety car period began about the same time, so that's when I made my stop, albeit changing for new slick tyres," Premat revealed, "That was a good strategy, because I could overtake three cars after the second restart and, when the third safety car period happened, the drivers still in front of me had not stopped, so I was a virtual leader - and still the fastest driver on the circuit...."

Premat was still running fourth on the road when the final safety car period was called, but was not to play any part in the race once the action resumed in earnest.

"I overtook Fauzy and braked very, very late - I think it could not have been any later - but Piquet braked after me, pushed me really hard and broke my wishbone," he claimed, "I'm very angry because I think I could have won the race.

"I was really fast in the wet and the dry and, when the safety car went into the pits, I was really good in the car. I am particularly angry because I am fighting with Speed for third place in the championship, and now I think the gap is too far."

Premat admitted that picking the right tyres at his stop hadn't been easy, but reckoned that he had opted for a combination that would have proved good for the win. As it turned out, Piquet, who had also fitted slicks, went on to win the race.

"It was really hard, because we didn't know whether to put wet tyres or dry tyres on the car - it was raining at some of the corners, like Stavelot, so it was really hard to make that decision," he explained, "But I had a good car and could have won the race. I was faster than everyone, and I'm really angry at Piquet because he pushes all the drivers. I think this is stupid - it is not professional for Formula One drivers, and his behaviour is not good."

 

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