Pastor Maldonado made up for yesterday’s near miss in qualifying by dominating today’s feature race in Istanbul, beating polesitter Davide Valsecchi by almost 18 seconds.
After passing the slow-starting Valsecchi, Maldonado was unchallenged all the way to a flag, and duly took an easy first win of the season for the Venezuelan.
As Oliver Turvey lost out to both Sergio Perez and Sam Bird after being blocked by the leading duo at the first corner, Valsecchi had more problems than losing the lead when Perez quickly caught up and hassled him persistently over the next few laps, eventually jumping him during the round of pitstops.
Perez didn’t stay there for long however – his pace had dropped dramatically after his pitstop and on Lap 26 Valsecchi snuck by, reclaiming second place which he would hold until the checkered flag.
Meanwhile Turvey’s woes continued, earning a drive-through penalty due to excessive weaving, only to earn another drive-through for speeding during the first one. He fell way out of the points, and would only climb as high as 15th by the end.
Perez was still under pressure near the end, and with two laps left Bird dived down the inside of him at Turn 5. He almost dropped yet more positions before the race was over, driving super-defensively to keep team-mate Giedo van der Garde and Luiz Razia at bay.
There was chaos further back towards the end of the race – Giacomo Ricci was struggling on worn tyres and holding up Christian Vietoris, and when Vietoris attempted a pass he clouted the rear of Ricci’s car, allowing DPR team-mate Michael Herck by for the final point, while Ricci was forced to retire on the spot.
Herck still had plenty of speed left though, and quickly disposed of the other Racing Engineering car of Dani Clos, who later slipped behind team-mate Vietoris, handing the German pole for the sprint race tomorrow.
Coloni meanwhile lost both drivers in quick succession – Vladimir Arabadzhiev crashed into the barriers at the end of the long back straight, while only moments later at the same corner Alberto Valerio spun out and stalled while trying to get moving again.
However even once the race was over, positions were still changing. Just when Perez thought it couldn’t get any worse, his entire weekend was ruined in one foul swoop – his car was found to be underweight after post-race inspection, and was subsequently disqualified. He will also start from the back of the grid for tomorrow’s sprint race, making his task harder still.
Pos Driver Team 1. Pastor Maldonado Rapax 2. Davide Valsecchi iSport International 3. Sam Bird ART Grand Prix 4. Giedo van der Garde Barwa Addax Team 5. Luiz Razia Rapax 6. Michael Herck DPR 7. Christian Vietoris Racing Engineering 8. Dani Clos Racing Engineering 9. Max Chilton Ocean Racing Technology 10. Jerome d'Ambrosio DAMS 11. Ho-Pin Tung DAMS 12. Johnny Cecotto Trident Racing 13. Fabio Leimer Ocean Racing Technology 14. Oliver Turvey iSport International 15. Josef Kral Super Nova Racing 16. Rodolfo Gonzalez Arden International 17. Alberto Valerio Scuderia Coloni EX. Sergio Perez Barwa Addax Team Not classified Vladimir Arabadzhiev Scuderia Coloni Adrian Zaugg Trident Racing Giacomo Ricci DPR Marcus Ericsson Super Nova Racing Charles Pic Arden International Jules Bianchi ART Grand Prix