Romain Grosjean held on under late pressure from Sam Bird to win the first race of the 2011 GP2 Series season at Istanbul in Turkey.
The French DAMS driver made a good getaway from pole position, but some opening lap chaos further down the field brought out the safety car immediately. Esteban Gutierrez tripped over Kevin Mirocha and into retirement at Turn 1, just before Fabio Leimer ran over the back of Max Chilton's car in spectacular fashion, launching himself into a roll.
Shortly after the restart Bird found his way back into second place past Dani Clos, who had made a lightening start to move up from fifth on the grid. Bird began to chase after Grosjean, while Clos fell into the clutches of both Jules Bianchi and Luca Filippi. The Italian, who had started third, took the opportunity to pass the Frenchman, before Clos ran wide at Turn 10 and allowed Filippi to move back up to third.
Filippi was one of the first of the frontrunners to make his pitstop, and was running just behind Johnny Cecotto when he came out. The Venezuelan ran wide out of Turn 8, causing him to spin and hit Filippi, putting both into retirement.
Grosjean and Bird pitted together, and retained their positions at the head of the field. Bird chased Grosjean down but the Frenchman held on to take the victory.
Bianchi fell back after a slow pitstop, but fought his way through to complete the podium, taking third from Giedo van der Garde. Clos had been running fifth in the closing stages, but outbraked himself and ran through the gravel, allowing both Stefano Coletti and Luiz Razia through. He was also passed by Charles Pic before the end. Marcus Ericsson finished ninth, with Davide Rigon rounding out the top ten.
Despite having had to stop to replace a broken front wing on the opening lap, GP2 rookie Mirocha, who only managed a handful of Formula Renault races in 2010, was running ninth but retired with a lap to go.
Race results after 32 laps:
|2.||Sam Bird||iSport International||+0.332|
|3.||Jules Bianchi||Lotus ART||+35.856|
|4.||Giedo van der Garde||Barwa Addax Team||+45.933|
|5.||Stefano Coletti||Trident Racing||+52.280|
|6.||Luiz Razia||Team AirAsia||+52.866|
|7.||Charles Pic||Barwa Addax Team||+1:03.117|
|8.||Dani Clos||Racing Engineering||+1:11.822|
|9.||Marcus Ericsson||iSport International||+1:12.913|
|10.||Davide Rigon||Scuderia Coloni||+1:15.636|
|11.||Christian Vietoris||Racing Engineering||+1:20.559|
|12.||Fairuz Fauzy||Super Nova Racing||+1:26.007|
|13.||Josef Kral||Arden International||+1:31.885|
|14.||Michael Herck||Scuderia Coloni||+1:43.492|
|15.||Kevin Mirocha||Ocean Racing Technology||+1 lap|
|16.||Davide Valsecchi||Team AirAsia||+1 lap|
|17.||Jolyon Palmer||Arden International||+1 lap|
|18.||Pal Varhaug||Dams||+1 lap|
|19.||Julian Leal||Rapax||+1 lap|
|Ret.||Rodolfo Gonzalez||Trident Racing||16 laps|
|Ret.||Luca Filippi||Super Nova Racing||15 laps|
|Ret.||Johnny Cecotto||Ocean Racing Technology||14 laps|
|Ret.||Max Chilton||Carlin||0 laps|
|Ret.||Fabio Leimer||Rapax||0 laps|
|Ret.||Esteban Gutierrez||Lotus ART||0 laps|