Sergey Sirotkin secured a podium finish at the Sepang International Circuit during Saturday’s GP2 Series Feature race in Malaysia, but was unable to take the victory after a late race pass by Antonio Giovinazzi.
Sirotkin had taken his ART Grand Prix machine into the lead after making an earlier pit stop than the Prema Racing driver and using the undercut, but the Italian conserved his tyres better than the Russian and was able to retake the lead with three laps remaining.
“It was quite OK, nothing special,” said Sirotkin on gp2series.com. “I made a good start and I had good first laps with a good pace.
I managed to keep the pace to keep contact with Antonio. Then, he was slightly quicker so we thought the right strategy was to go for the undercut at the pit stop. That’s what we did and it worked quite well.
“Obviously, I had to push harder straight after the pit stop but in the end I lost the lead of the race but if we hadn’t tried to go for the undercut, we wouldn’t have been able to end P2.”
Like so many drivers in the championship, it was Sirotkin’s first visit to Sepang, and after losing track time during free practice, he felt on the back foot, so was ultimately happy to secure a podium finish, even if the race victory was denied to him by Giovinazzi with just a handful of laps remaining.
“Unfortunately, we missed half of the Free Practice and we couldn’t fight for pole during Qualifying,” said Sirotkin. “Also, it’s a new track from me and I was coming from a test in Valencia with a F1 Renault car so I didn’t have much time to re-adapt to the GP2 car.
“So when we look back at how the weekend had started, I’m quite happy with this result. It was the best result we could do.
“Obviously when you think you led the biggest part of the race and you lose the lead three laps before the end, it’s a bit disappointing but I think we couldn’t do more than that. We tried to maximize it the best we could but it’s still ok. And it’s still good points for the standings.”
Unfortunately for Sirotkin, he suffered an early retirement from Sunday’s Sprint race when an electrical failure caused a gearbox issue, meaning the Russian is out of contention for the championship sitting fourth with just two races and forty-eight points available.