Johnny Cecotto took victory in the GP2 Series feature race at Hockenheim thanks to his gamble on slicks at the start of the race paying off.

After the rainfall during the Formula 1 qualifying that preceded the race, the German circuit was wet in places and dry in others. Most of the field opted to start on wet tyres, with Cecotto amongst the exceptions.

Polesitter Giedo van der Garde retained the race lead at the start, while behind him Nigel Melker took second from Fabio Leimer at turns two and three. Melker then passed fellow Dutchman van der Garde for the lead before the hairpin.

Cecotto had started 17th, and only lost two places at the start despite having slicks. The circuit quickly dried though, playing into his hands. He started searing his way through the field, passing numerous cars in the space of a few corners at the end of lap five – a clear signal to the rest that they needed to pit for slicks.

As the opposition took to the pits, Cecotto took the lead ahead of Stephane Richelmi – the only other man to start on slicks. They nursed their healthy advantage over third-place Leimer before coming in to make the mandatory pitstop.

Richelmi came in on lap 23, falling behind Leimer, Felipe Nasr, van der Garde. Cecotto stopped on the following lap and came out just ahead of Leimer.

With fresh rear tyres, the Addax driver pulled away over the remaining laps, winning by 9.6 seconds. Leimer's wait for a win in 2012 continues, while Richelmi used his fresher tyres to get by van der Garde and then Nasr to score his first podium finish.

Melker finished sixth, and was being caught by points leader Luiz Razia towards the end. Razia though already had to worry about defending his place to James Calado behind, but the British rookie had to make do with eighth and with it the reverse grid pole for Sunday's sprint race.

Luiz Razia and James Calado - Photo Credit: Daniel Kalisz/GP2 Media Service

Razia and Calado will start on the front row in the sprint race – Photo Credit: Daniel Kalisz/GP2 Media Service

Razia's main rival Davide Valsecchi had got ahead of Calado after fighting his way up the order, but then paid the price for that rise by struggling with his tyres later on and slipping to 13th. His progress had come despite running into Stefano Coletti at the hairpin, bouncing up into the air and damaging his front end.

Marcus Ericsson held ninth going on to the last lap but was under attack from Esteban Gutierrez, who was recovering from the grid penalty that put him 18th on the grid. The pair ran deep into the hairpin and series returnee Tom Dillmann took advantage to pass both on the inside.

Gutierrez took the final point in tenth ahead of Ericsson, while Josef Kral made up numerous places in the latter stages to take 12th in front of Valsecchi. The Italian had in turn got back ahead of Max Chilton, who was also going backwards by the finish.

Nathanael Berthon was another mover late-on to beat Simon Trummer to 15th despite damaging his front wing before the pitstops in an ambitious move on seventh-place starter Victor Guerin, who failed to finish.

Rio Haryanto was only 17th despite a good double-pass at the hairpin in the earlier tricky conditions. Jolyon Palmer finished 18th having started from the pits after stalling at the start of the parade lap, while Fabio Onidi finished 19th after starting fourth due in part to a penalty for pitlane speeding.

His Coloni teammate Coletti was one place behind after dropping like a stone following his collision with Valsecchi, finishing ahead of Julian Leal, who stalled on the dummy grid right behind Palmer. Sergio Canamasas started his first GP2 race from the pits and finished 22nd, with Rodolfo Gonzalez 23rd.

Giancarlo Serenelli finished a lap down in 24th, while Ricardo Teixeira joined Guerin in not finishing after he was shown the black flag after not serving a drive-through handed to him for ignoring blue flags.

The sprint race is at 09:35 BST on Sunday morning.