Calado Wins GP2 Final Sprint Race On His Debut Weekend

James Calado - Photo Credit: Andrew Ferraro/GP2 Media Service
James Calado on his way to victory - Photo Credit: Andrew Ferraro/GP2 Media Service

James Calado made a fine start to his GP2 career by winning the sprint race at the non-championship GP2 Final in Abu Dhabi.

The 2011 GP3 runner-up started from pole position after finishing his first race in the category in eighth place on Saturday, and successfully held onto the lead ahead of fellow GP3 graduate Antonio Felix da Costa and Marcus Ericsson, who had made a good start from fifth on the grid.

Ericsson found a way past Ocean Racing Technology driver Felix da Costa for second place on lap eight, and set off after Calado. Felix da Costa meanwhile came under immediate pressure from Luiz Razia of Caterham Team AirAsia.

Razia made his move at the Turn 11/12/13 chicane, but Felix da Costa managed to hold onto the position by jumping across the inside of the Turn 13 apex. He didn't concede the position, and was therefore slapped with a drive-through penalty.

This did promote Razia into third, but he soon found himself in trouble with the stewards, after ignoring yellow flags. Once he served his drive-through, Tom Dillmann took up the final podium position.

Up front, Ericsson couldn't get close enough to Calado to mount an attack, allowing the Briton to claim a fantastic debut win for ART. Ericsson and Dillmann completed a fine double podium for their iSport team.

Calado's win allowed him to scoop the 15,000 Euro prize from Pirelli as the top GP3 graduate. Dillmann ended up tied on points with Calado, and takes 10,000 Euros.

Jolyon Palmer scored another good result with fourth place after his maiden podium in the feature race, finishing ahead of a frantic battle over fifth place.

American Alexander Rossi held the position with a few laps to go, ahead of Stefano Coletti and feature race winner Fabio Leimer. Leimer found his way past Coletti, and then caught Rossi. He got past at Turn 2 at the start of the last lap, but forced both himself and Rossi wide. Upon rejoining the track, Leimer made contact with Coletti, sending the Monegasque driver off into the wall on the outside of Turn 3.

All this allowed Esteban Gutierrez to take fifth, taking advantage when Leimer ran wide at Turn 17. The Swiss driver was struggling with tyre damage, and ran wide at the penultimate turn. That allowed Kevin Ceccon through into sixth, while Rossi and Dani Clos both followed Leimer onto the runoff area. Rossi dived past Leimer upon rejoining the track, as did Razia.