Antonio Giovinazzi will head into the final round of the 2016 GP2 Series season on top of the championship standings after taking his fifth victory of the year during Saturday’s Feature race at the Sepang International Circuit.
The Prema Racing driver took advantage of a poor afternoon from team-mate and pre-race championship leader Pierre Gasly, and conserved his tyres enough to be able to catch and pass race leader Sergey Sirotkin to move to the top of the standings.
“It was a fantastic race,” said Giovinazzi. “I made a good start, then in the second stint my pace was great compared to Sirotkin. He pitted three laps earlier and after the pit stop I was second, 1.5 seconds behind.
“I knew I had something more in the bag in terms of pace so I managed the tyres and in the final part of the race I started pushing. He was a little in trouble and I took advantage of it, passing him with four laps to go. Then I just had to manage the situation and cross the line in front.
“Once again special thanks to the team for the fantastic car they gave me.”
Starting eighth on the grid for Sunday’s Sprint race, Giovinazzi managed to survive contact with Oliver Rowland early in the race to finish fourth, just behind Gasly, getting ahead of both Mitch Evans and Gustav Malja to ensure he finished on his team-mates tail and lose as little of his advantage as possible.
“Overall it’s been a great race, it’s a shame that I had contact with Rowland at the start as that compromised the result a bit but we were still fourth with Pierre third, so I didn’t lose a lot of ground in terms of the Drivers’ Championship,” said Giovinazzi.
“I will line-up in Abu Dhabi seven points ahead of Pierre and the goal will of course be to stay in front of him to try and win the championship.”