Antonio Giovinazzi secured his second victory of the GP2 Series weekend around the Baku Street Circuit after capitalising on a final lap mistake from his Prema Racing team-mate Pierre Gasly in another crazy race on Sunday morning.
The Italian had made another disappointing start from eighth on the grid, and was running at one point down in twenty-first position, but a combination of good driving and a trio of safety car interventions and crazy restarts saw him move right back into contention.
Even without the use of the DRS in the closing laps, Giovinazzi was able to keep the pressure on team-mate Gasly right down the 1.4-mile long main straight, and forced the Red Bull-backed driver into a mistake to once again see the chances of his maiden GP2 victory disappear.
The opening few laps were pretty clean, including the start that was so disorganised during Saturday’s Feature race, with Nobuharu Matsushita moving quickly into the lead for ART Grand Prix ahead of pole sitter Daniel de Jong, while Oliver Rowland quickly made it a MP Motorsport 2-3 by displacing Sean Gelael.
It was lap eight when the first safety car was needed, with Jordan King colliding with Jimmy Eriksson as the two battled for ninth into turn one. Sergio Canamasas got caught up in the incident, but it was only Ericsson who retired in the move with a broken rear wing.
Matsushita made a mess of the restart, jumping on the accelerator too quickly before being forced to brake to avoid passing the safety car, with chaos ensuing behind, with Rowland taking the lead before locking up his brakes into turn one, which lost the Briton some momentum and allowed Matsushita back through as well as Sergey Sirotkin in the second ART.
It was not long before the safety car was back out on track however, as Patric Paz Armand once again crashed, the Trident racer seemingly attracted to the walls this weekend.
Matsushita tried a different approach to the second restart, but a misunderstanding on where the first safety car line was to allow drivers to start racing and passing meant a number of clashes and collisions happened on the run down the straight and into the first turn.
Gustav Malja hit the back of Mitch Evans, braking his front wing that briefly lodged itself onto the rear of the Campos Racing car before detaching itself and being run over by Malja again. Malja then hit Rowland into turn one, turning around the MP Motorsport driver, with both Evans and Gelael being eliminated.
The incident brought out the third safety car, with Matsushita leading Raffaele Marciello, with Gasly having moved up to third from eighteenth on the grid ahead of team-mate Giovinazzi, who had avoided the incidents at the restarts up to then.
The final restart saw Matsushita get it much better, but Marciello made a move into the first corner but locked up badly, the Russian Time driver collecting the ART Grand Prix driver allowing the two Prema drivers into first and second.
Giovinazzi then made the move to take his second win of the weekend ahead of Gasly, while Sirotkin took third despite damage to his front wing caused when he clipped team-mate Matsushita during the second restart.
King took fourth despite his spin with Eriksson early in the race for Racing Engineering, with Artem Markelov taking fifth for Russian Time to take over at the top of the championship standings.
Canamasas also recovered from being delayed by the King/Eriksson clash and a pit stop for a new front wing to take sixth for Carlin, ahead of Nabil Jeffri, who took his and Arden International’s first points of the season ahead of Rapax’s Arthur Pic.
Baku Street Circuit Sprint Race Result
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