Chaos descended upon Valencia harbour in GP2’s opening race of the weekend, when 11 of the 24 starters were eliminated through a spate of crashes, scattering debris throughout the whole of Sector 1 on the opening lap.
The leading trio got a good enough start to avoid the carnage unfolding just behind them – Sergio Perez making a clean start on pole while eventual winner Pastor Maldonado blasted past Jules Bianchi, and nearly took both himself and Perez out when he nerfed the rear end of the Mexican’s Dallara at Turn 1.
The restart after the inevitable safety car to clear up the first lap saw Bianchi take second place back from Maldonado, after the Venezuelan ran wide at the last corner before the race restarted – and as Perez struggled with what appeared to be a broken exhaust from the earlier contact, Bianchi quickly snatched the lead away. Davide Valsecchi, who also snuck past Maldonado on the restart tried to follow Bianchi past Perez, but only succeeded in spinning him out and earning a drive-through penalty as a result.
After Maldonado has retaken 2nd place, he spent the next 5 laps stuck to Bianchi’s gearbox, applying constant pressure to the Frenchman. Eventually he snapped – making the same error as Maldonado had at the race restart, leaving the door wide open for the championship leader to sneak through and eventually clinch the win by over 8 seconds.
Perez’s chaotic race hadn’t quite settled down after dropping out of the points though, as Alberto Valerio dragged his rear jack from the pit-lane and out onto the circuit right in front of him. Luckily it missed him, but Valerio’s Coloni team was fined 1,500 euros for the mishap.
Sam Bird gave ART the final podium spot after climbing up from 10th on the grid, making it a 2-3 for the French outfit. Perez’s Addax team-mate Giedo van der Garde pushed hard but wasn’t able to make up the last few tenths to steal the final podium place away from Bird, while Dani Clos finished in no mans land in 5th.
Valerio wasn’t the only Coloni driver reprimanded after the race – Vladimir Arabadzhiev was handed a 10 place grid penalty for tomorrow’s race along with Josef Kral for their parts in the opening incidents of the race.