Christian Vietoris took his first main GP2 Series win in the sprint race at Monza, as Pastor Maldonado finally clinched the championship.
Racing Engineering driver Vietoris made a lightening start from fifth on the grid to squeeze his way into the lead heading down to the first corner. Jerome d'Ambrosio slotted into second behind the German.
Feature race winner Sam Bird made a strong start to move up to fourth from eighth on the grid, before passing polesitter Max Chilton on the second lap. Bird's ART teammate Jules Bianchi took fourth from Chilton two laps later.
Sergio Perez ran wide and through the gravel at the Parabolica on the second lap, narrowly keeping it out of the wall. Maldonado followed him into the gravel, the Venezuelan finding the barrier and retiring from the race.
Bird caught up with d'Ambrosio, with the leading trio racing nose to tail for the remainder of the race. Vietoris held on to take the win one second ahead of d'Ambrosio, who beat Bird to second by just one tenth of a second. Bianchi finished fourth, with Chilton holding onto fifth despite race-long pressure from Oliver Turvey.
Adrian Zaugg finished seventh, ahead of Charles Pic, Alvaro Parente and Luiz Razia. Front-row starter Edoardo Piscopo retired after being hit by Davide Valsecchi midway through the race.
Perez needed to win the race and set the fastest lap in order to take the title fight to the last round in Abu Dhabi. The Mexican could only manage to finish in 13th though, meaning Maldonado was crowned as the sixth GP2 Series champion.
After the race, Vietoris said: “I was actually thinking, when I arrived at Monza, that I didn’t have a race win so far this season, so I was extra motivated. We were a bit unlucky with the yellow flags in qualifying, but yesterday I had a good race, allowing me a decent starting position for today. The start of today’s race was definitely the key for the win and I already had a really good feeling during the warm-up lap. It was an easy start for me. Obviously, a bit lucky as well.”
Maldonado said: “We worked very hard to finally win the championship, and for sure it’s special to win here in Monza because the team is from Italy and it feels like my home. I’m very happy with the hard work we’ve done this season: it was so competitive, and it’s great to win six races so far, and I hope we are competitive still in Abu Dhabi. We now need to focus and to keep pushing for the team championship: we are very close with Addax and ART, but I’m confident we can do it.”