Stoffel Vandoorne broke another GP2 Series record when he claimed his 11th GP2 win in Saturday’s Feature Race ahead of Raffaele Marciello and Mitch Evans around the Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi.
It was a clean run down to the first corner for the GP2 Series field with everyone apart from Marciello keeping position. The Trident driver from Italy appeared to struggle at the start when he seemingly dropped from fifth down into a fight for ninth position with Artem Markelov.
Pole Position man, Pierre Gasly lead into the first corner ahead of the Series Champion Vandoorne and RUSSIAN TIME driver, Evans. The Frenchman was able to keep his position for just a handful of laps before both Vandoorne and Evans took advantage of Gasly cracking under pressure on Lap 4 – both drivers passing him in order to pull away ahead of the first set of pitstops.
Lap 6 saw the majority of drivers on the Super Soft tyres make their stops as the likes of Alex Lynn and Pierre Gasly began to truly struggle for pace. Just moments later, the Virtual Safety Car (VSC) was deployed when Norman Nato and Nicholas Latifi had a coming together which caused both drivers a premature end to their race.
There was drama in the pitlane as well as on track when a slow change of the left front tyre for Evans meant that the Kiwi driver was then caught up in his box, waiting for the traffic to pass.
The start of Lap 9 indicated the end of the VSC period and all drivers were quick to pick the pace up once more. King and Markelov were side by side almost instantly when the Racing Engineering driver caught the Russian sleeping when the green flags were shown; King taking full advantage to move ahead.
Lynn was finally able to make his first stop of the race; after rules were introduced in Monte Carlo that meant drivers were not allowed to pit during the VSC, the DAMS driver was unable to make his stop until the green flags were shown again.
On the same lap, Lynn’s teammate Gasly was under investigation for speeding in the pitlane and later received a 5 second time penalty for the offence, whilst Oliver Rowland, who was also under investigation for speeding in the pitlane, received a drive through penalty.
Markelov, who was showing promise came to a halt at the side of the circuit when it appeared that he lost all power in his car. The returning Daniel de Jong also suddenly seemed to have a loss of power as he passed the RUSSIAN TIME car; the Dutchman brought his car back to the pitlane and as expected, was forced to retire from the race.
As those on the medium compound tyre began to make their stops, Vandoorne soon found himself back in the lead of the race where he would stay until the flag came out. The Belgian crossed the line to take victory ahead of Marciello. Despite the Italian’s difficult start, he was able to find his momentum again and the Trident driver finished just ahead of Evans.