Stoffel Vandoorne made the perfect start to his 2015 GP2 season after a faultless victory in the opening feature race and a controlled drive to second in the sprint race.
Vandoorne leads the drivers’ championship with 43 points ahead of Rio Haryanto in second. ART Grand Prix also lead the constructors’ championship, 15 points clear of closest rivals Racing Engineering.
Thanks to the blistering heat tyre degradation was the main problem for most teams over the weekend, but not for ART and not for Vandoorne.
The Belgian handled the conditions perfectly and where his rivals failed, he excelled.
“The feature race was quite exciting,” said Vandoorne. “The safety car came on track at the worst time for us, but we had to stick with our strategy and keep going on the medium tyres. I pushed hard to open up the biggest gap I could on the drivers who had already pitted.
The safety car timing in the feature race may not have been ideal for Vandoorne but with a late pit stop for fresh rubber the McLaren junior was able to make good progress.
“Overtaking was so nice with fresh tyres,” said Vandoorne. “I had fantastic grip and the other cars were sitting ducks for me.
“At first, I thought (Alexander) Rossi was out of reach, but the team told me I could do it and I went for it, even though I couldn’t push too hard as I needed to keep my tyres alive because that was always going to be one of the keys to the weekend here in Bahrain.”
Vandoorne added: “It was like that in the second race too and that’s what allowed me to gain so many positions without taking any risks to finish the race on dead tyres.
“It’s really great to start the season with a pole position, a win, a fastest lap and a podium. It could not be better, but let’s not forget to keep up this momentum in Barcelona.”
Team principal Sebastien Philippe also praised Vandoorne’s performances over the weekend.
“Stoffel had dazzling speed and intelligence in all circumstances,” said Philippe. “In the first race he had to keep his cool with a strategy that might seem risky, but paid off, and in the second where the secret was to attack the opposition to move up through the field while still having sufficiently fresh tyres to finish the race in good conditions.”