Sergey Sirotkin survived controversy and two pit stops to claim his first Feature race victory of the season in an often entertaining but Virtual Safety Car affected race at Hockenheim on Saturday.
The Russian was forced to pit for a second time after being adjudged to have made his first stop when the Virtual Safety Car had been deployed to recover the stranded car of Artem Markelov, who had retired at the hairpin after misjudging his braking whilst battling Gustav Malja for position, hitting the read of Jordan King ahead of him and coming off worse.
Sirotkin was not to be denied however, driving superbly in the second half of the race, making his second ‘mandatory’ stop, and then overtaking Oliver Rowland, Luca Ghiotto and Raffaele Marciello to take the victory.
Marciello had looked on course for only his second career GP2 Series victory having run in the lead until Sirotkin found a way passed, with the Italian then dropping into the clutches of Ghiotto, who also found a way passed the Russian Time driver to claim his best Feature race finish of the season in second for Trident.
Ghiotto’s result was all the more remarkable when the fact he started thirteenth on the grid, and ran the last stages of the race with a damaged front wing following contact with Racing Engineering’s King, who suffered a puncture as a result and dropped out of contention.
Marciello’s race unfolded further when he was overtaken on the line by Pierre Gasly of Prema Racing for the final spot on the podium, with the Frenchman having recovered well from a poor start that saw him drop down from second on the grid to twelfth, but on fresher tyres, Gasly was able to out-drag Marciello to the line by just 0.030 seconds.
Alex Lynn finished fifth on the road but took a ten-second penalty in his DAMS machine that dropped him to eighth and reverse grid pole position for Sunday’s Sprint race, after being penalised for spinning Norman Nato out of the race at turn two as they battled for position.
Arthur Pic drove a strong race for Rapax to move up to that fifth position after Lynn took his penalty, while Rowland took sixth for MP Motorsport despite notably struggling with his tyres in the closing stages of the race, losing a number of positions having been running inside the top three.
Malja drove one of his strongest races of the season to finish eighth on the road, moving up to seventh after Lynn’s penalty, while Antonio Giovinazzi (from the back of the grid) and Nobuharu Matsushita completed the points scorers.
As well as a Virtual Safety Car for Markelov, another was needed not long after when Daniel de Jong misjudged his braking and hit Sean Gelael at the hairpin, eliminating both drivers from the race, while Lynn’s move on Nato that earned him a penalty saw the third VSC as marshals removed the Racing Engineering machine from the track.
Mitch Evans was the only other retiree, with the New Zealander pulling into the pits with brake issues on his Campos Racing machine while looking good for a points finish.
Hockenheimring Feature Race Result
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