McLaren protege Stoffel Vandoorne claims fifth consecutive GP2 feature-race win


McLaren protege Stoffel Vandoorne stormed to his fifth consecutive GP2 feature-race win to extend his lead in the championship at the Red Bull Ring.

The ART Grand Prix driver was able to lead the field away from pole position cleanly, despite a lock-up at Turn 2, and then set about extending his lead before coming in for an early pitstop on lap eight.

He had a slow stop which cost the Belgian about two seconds. This put him behind Sergey Sirotkin, who jumped to second at the start, and team-mate Nobuharu Matsushita who pitted a lap later. With warmer tyres Vandoorne made quick work of passing both drivers and set about building a gap.

Building a gap was harder than expected though as Vandoorne had a few close calls while fighting his way through cars who hadn’t pitted and almost collided with Daniel de Jong. He survived unscathed but had to briefly fend off advances from Sirotkin and Matsushita as they fought three-abreast into several corners.

Once Vandoorne was in clear air there was no catching him as he continued to extend his gap to Sirotkin in second, crossing the line 11.7s clear of the Russian.

Rapax driver Sirotkin was able to make his early pace and pitstop work to hold on to second place.

The same couldn’t be said for Matsushita though as the Japanese driver fell victim to a hard-charging Alex Lynn who pitted on lap 33.

Carlin driver Lynn, who started ninth on the grid, could have finished higher up the order but was held up by team-mate Pierre Gasly before his pitstop.

Russian Time’s Artem Markelov enjoyed a strong race and was able to make his late pitstop work after breezing past a struggling Alexander Rossi in the closing stages.

Rio Haryanto finished seventh while Nick Yelloly, who also pitted early, secured reverse grid pole for the sprint race in eighth. Arthur Pic and Mitch Evans rounded out the top 10.

Red Bull-backed Gasly endured a tough race after he fell back from third on the grid with damage to his front wing.

Ferrari junior Raffaele Marciello also had a race to forget. The Italian was in the mix with the leaders before the Virtual Safety Car was released to clear debris. He was caught napping on the restart though and instantly lost several places to leave him out of contention down in 15th.