Luis Razia dominated to take a maiden GP2 race win in Monza, while Nico Hulkenburg made history behind him.
The sprint race of the ninth, and penultimate, round of the GP2 got underway under only slightly less chaotic circumstances than yesterday's rain affected feature race. Razia, starting on pole thanks to the reverse grid and his eighth place finish yesterday found himself alone on the front row, as the Super Nova car of Javier Villa, due to start beside him, was forced to start from the pitlane after pre-race clutch problems.
That fact, and a slow start by fourth place Edoardo Mortara, suddenly presented with clear track, allowed Razia an uncontested lead into the first chicane as the field squabbled behind him. Squabbling that soon turned into a brawl on the exit of the second chicane when Racing Engineering's Dani Clos squeezed the iSport car of Diego Nunes towards the inside wall.
The iSport man soon ran out of road, but Clos kept on coming, sending his car spinning off the front of Nunes' car, and into the wall, before ultimately the two came to rest on the outside of the first Lesmo right-hander, with Clos upside down, but thankfully unhurt.
That incident called the safety car out for the third time in the GP2 weekend, but again Razia was able to escape the challenges of those behind him.
By nature of the reverse grid, ART's Nico Hulkenburg had started the race ahead of Vitaly Petrov, and therefore in a title winning position, and while Petrov looked capable of catching Hulkenburg early on, before perhaps pushing too hard and losing a position after running wide though the Lesmo corners.
All Hulkenburg had to do was hang on, and hang on he did, coming home third behind Razia who won only two weeks after his car has impounded as part the Coloni team's legal dispute with Andy Soucek. Lucas di Grassi finished second to complete a double podium and go some way to make up for the fact his teammate exited the race upside down on lap one. Jerome D'Ambrosio, Petrov and yesterday's winner Giedo van der Garde completed the points paying positions.
“I didn't expect to be champion in my first year,” admitted Hulkenburg, the first rookie to win the GP2 title since Lewis Hamilton and now surely bound to follow him into Formula One. Hulkenburg also became the first man to clinch the GP2 title before the final week, but he claims all these milestones are unimportant, “the only thing that matters and that means anything is that we are the champion,” he said. “All the other stories are not important to me.”
Fair enough Nico, we won't go on.