Fabio Leimer dominated the GP2 Series’ Feature Race in Bahrain, turning his dominant pole position into a second win of the season.
Though dominant Leimer did not lead throughout, instead losing the lead as different strategies played out with two compounds of Pirelli tyre in use by the teams. Despite this the closest anyone came to challenging the Swiss Racing Engineering driver for the victory came on the opening lap. Aided by a gap left on the front row by Marcus Ericsson, who stalled DAMS entry from second spot as the formation lap began, Stefano Coletti swept into second place on the start.
Through the opening lap the Monagasque pushed Leimer had – the pair side by side on several occasions – before Leimer began to pull into the lead.
“Today, the aim was to have a good start and finish first,” said Leimer. “I did not have a great start though. I was struggling a bit. In the first corner and the fourth corner, I nearly lost a position to Coletti, but I managed to hold him behind me. I could start saving the tyres and see what the other guys were doing. The pitstop went good after that. It was a nice race. I’m very happy. I had been waiting for a long time to win again in GP2 and having two wins in a row is a great achievement.”
Colleti was able to jump ahead of Felipe Nasr at the start, the Brazilian also falling back behind Sam Bird who leapt up from ninth after squeezing through the middle of a five-wide log jam formed by the third and fourth row men.
Bird ran third through the first part of race but both he and Nasr in fourth fell back with slow pitstops with GP2 debutant Alexander Rossi, Jolyon Palmer and Stephane Richelmi moving ahead of them, though both Nasr and Bird were able to demote Richelmi soon after.
While Bird would finish sixth after making little extra progress Nasr continued up the order, passing his Carlin teammate Palmer with three laps remaining before closing in on Rossi, but too late to stop the American Caterham Racing driver from joining Leimer and Coletti on the podium.
“I came here being apprehensive about the tyres because I had no idea how they will behave,” said Rossi after the race. “You hear the stories about them so when I started on soft [tyres], I had no clue how to push it. When I changed to prime, again, I was not sure how they would hold on till the end. I think we did a good job. The team has helped me a lot in terms of preparation going into this weekend and giving me as much advice as they could. And I think we did a very good job. The car has been great all weekend and I’m happy to be here.”
Late-stoppers Adrian Quaife–Hobbs and Tom Dillmann will start the Sprint Race from the front row after both got ahead of Simon Trummer after a brief three-way battle. Trummer finished ninth ahead of Johnny Cecotto.