He couldn’t repeat this in the sprint race however, managing only 9th as Sam Bird made a brilliant start and held off a late charge from Felipe Nasr to win by the smallest margin in GP2 history.
ART endured a poor weekend with James Calado’s penalty meaning their two cars would start 14th and 20th on the grid. After amassing no points at all in the feature race they recovered to finish fifth and seventh in the sprint race with Calado making up many places in the closing laps.
For the second weekend in a row we saw a driver forced off the track in Qualifying and as a result the culprit – Sergio Canamasas – was excluded and made to start from last.
Ericsson stalls while Coletti challenges Leimer
Marcus Ericsson was hoping that second on the grid would result in his first points of the year but he stalled on the grid before the formation lap started and was made to start from the pit lane.
Stefano Coletti took full advantage and challenged Fabio Leimer for the lead on the opening lap. The Racing Engineering man held off his Rapax competitor however as a small slip from Coletti cost him the chance to pass Leimer. As the laps went by Leimer pulled out a lead and looked like he had the race under control.
Further back Sam Bird made a scintillating start from ninth on the grid, slicing his way through slower starting cars in front to make it up to third by turn 1.
Bird and Nasr lose ground in the pits
Alexander Rossi was the first man to pit from fifth on lap seven and Jolyon Palmer followed suite on the next lap. Sam Bird and Felipe Nasr pitted together another lap later but both suffered problems in the pits and dropped behind the two men who had pitted earlier.
As Rossi’s pace increased Leimer and Coletti pitted together and just rejoined in front of the Caterham Racing driver, putting Rossi into a provisional podium place on his GP2 debut.
The three of them proceeded to slice their way through the cars who had started on the hard tyres and resumed the top three positions once everyone had completed their pitstops.
Bird and Trummer’s tyre struggle
As the race reached its final stages Sam Bird started to drop back as his tyres began to degrade. Nasr eased past the RUSSIAN TIME driver with the Carlin man’s teammate – Jolyon Palmer – following him through a few laps later.
Further back Simon Trummer was suffering with tyres as well, falling behind Adrian Quaife-Hobbs and eventually losing eighth place – and the reverse grid pole position – to Tom Dillmann.
Fabio Leimer claimed his second feature race win in two weekends with Coletti claiming an important second place. Alexander Rossi put in a fantastic performance to score a podium in his debut race in the GP2 series.
|1||Fabio Leimer||Racing Engineering||57’21.528||1|
|3||Alexander Rossi||Caterham Racing||9.03||7|
|6||Sam Bird||RUSSIAN TIME||28.518||9|
|7||Adrian Quaife-Hobbs||MP Motorsport||33.067||8|
|8||Tom Dillmann||RUSSIAN TIME||33.589||5|
|10||Johnny Cecotto||Arden international||37.459||13|
|11||Kevin Ceccon||Trident Racing||42.502||16|
|12||James Calado||ART Grand Prix||48.084||20|
|14||Daniel Abt||ART Grand Prix||53.482||14|
|15||Rio Haryanto||Barwa Addax Team||59.146||24|
|16||Jake Rosenzweig||Barwa Addax Team||65.997||21|
|17||Nathanel Berthon||Trident Racing||70.696||22|
|18||Rene Binder||Venezuela GP Lazarus||71.776||19|
|19||Julian Leal||Racing Engineering||79.886||17|
|20||Sergio Canamasas||Caterham Racing||80.456||26|
|21||Robin Frijns||Hilmer Motorsport||1 Lap||10|
|DNF||Kevin Giovesi||Venezuela GP Lazarus||28||18|
|DNF||Mitch Evans||Arden international||26||15|
|DNF||Pal Varhaug||Hilmer Motorsport||5||23|
|DNF||Daniel de Jong||MP Motorsport||2||25|
Fastest Lap: Julian Leal (Racing Engineering) – 1’43.889 (on lap 24)
Fastest Lap Points: Johnny Cecotto (Arden International) – 1’45.115 (on lap 28)
Bird turns poor start into early lead
Front row men Tom Dillmann and Adrian Quaife-Hobbs made great starts while third placed man Sam Bird appeared to miss the start completely. Wheel spin from the drivers behind ensured Bird kept third however, despite an attempted overtake from fast-starting Stefano Coletti. The Rapax driver was blocked by Quaife-Hobbs however and this allowed Bird into second behind his teammate.
Behind them Jolyon Palmer tipped yesterday’s podium man – Alexander Rossi – into a spin, and eventually into Fabio Leimer, taking off Rossi’s front wing, while Rio Haryanto missed his breaking point and ploughed into the back of Marcus Ericsson, rounding off a terribly unlucky weekend for the DAMS driver.
Both ART drivers made good starts to jump into 7th and 9th while Sam Bird shot down the inside of teammate Tom Dillmann to take the lead before the first lap had even finished. Dillmann tried to fight back at turn 1 but this eventually cost him second to Coletti and the lap after Dillmann lost another place to Felipe Nasr while Bird started to pull away up front.
Race re-ignites as tyres drop off
The race then remained fairly stagnant until the last five laps when the tyres started to drop off. Quaife-Hobbs – running in 5th – became the cork in a bottle that would see Leimer lose two places to Palmer and Calado in two corners and the latter eventually fight through into 5th place.
The fight up front was just as intense as Coletti and Nasr began closing on Bird by a second a lap. Coletti looked to have the measure of Bird but a mistake at the final corner on the penultimate lap gifted Nasr second place. Coletti continued to lock up on his worn tyres and made a number of mistakes on the final lap, dropping four seconds back.
Nasr put pressure on Bird for the lead on the final lap but the RUSSIAN TIME driver managed to hold on to claim the first ever win for the new team by the smallest margin in GP2 history, eight hundredths of a second.
|1||Sam Bird||RUSSIAN TIME||41’08.133||3|
|4||Tom Dillmann||RUSSIAN TIME||10.326||1|
|5||James Calado||ART Grand Prix||19.713||12|
|7||Daniel Abt||ART Grand Prix||24.108||14|
|8||Adrian Quaife-Hobbs||MP Motorsport||27.722||2|
|9||Fabio Leimer||Racing Engineering||27.894||8|
|10||Kevin Ceccon||Trident Racing||27.997||11|
|11||Sergio Canamasas||Caterham Racing||28.601||20|
|12||Johnny Cecotto||Arden International||35.477||10|
|15||Mitch Evans||Arden International||36.95||23|
|16||Julian Leal||Racing Engineering||37.671||19|
|17||Kevin Giovesi||Venezuela GP Lazarus||41.248||22|
|18||Daniel de Jong||MP Motorsport||44.757||26|
|19||Jake Rosenzweig||Barwa Addax Team||47.006||16|
|20||Alexander Rossi||Caterham Racing||52.044||6|
|21||Pal Varhaug||Hilmer Motorsport||54.74||25|
|22||Nathanel Berthon||Trident Racing||55.332||17|
|23||Robin Frijns||Hilmer Motorsport||62.964||21|
|24||Rio Haryanto||Barwa Addax Team||77.388||15|
|25||Rene Binder||Venezuela GP Lazarus||1 Lap||18|
Fastest Lap: Nathanael Berthon (Trident Racing) – 1’45.301 (on lap 17)
Fastest Lap Points: Sam Bird (RUSSIAN TIME) – 1’45.465 (on lap 4)
Drivers’ championship points
Despite not winning a race Stefano Coletti held onto his championship lead by ten points from Fabio Leimer. The Racing Engineering driver looked dominant through practice, qualifying and the feature race but another no-score in the sprint race cost him ground.
Image © GP2/Dunbar