PREMA Racing‘s Antonio Giovinazzi denied ART Grand Prix‘s Sergey Sirotkin victory at the Sepang International Circuit where he passed the Russian on the final lap of the race to take his fifth win of the season. Norman Nato rounded off the podium behind them.
Poleman Pierre Gasly made a poor getaway off the grid which saw him fall down the order, whilst Raffaele Marciello stormed past the PREMA pairing to take the lead into Turn 1 but ran wide and had to concede the place to Giovinazzi – the former tried to fight back but ended up being overtaken by Sirotkin instead.
Sirotkin remained hot on the tail of Giovinazzi but the Italian strung together a series of fastest laps to stay clear of the DRS zone. The Russian then pitted on lap eight, with Marciello following suit a lap later but an issue with the front left jeopardised his race.
Giovinazzi came in for his pit stop on lap 11 but rejoined behind Sirotkin. Out front, Luca Ghiotto led from Mitch Evans having started the race on the reverse strategy – once they came in for the softer compound tyres Sirotkin came through to take the lead followed by Giovinazzi and Nato.
A fierce battle was kicking off for fourth place between Oliver Rowland and Alex Lynn with the DAMS driver putting pressure on the MP Motorsport man with the latter losing the place to Lynn. However, it the move did not stick but the 2014 GP3 Series champion found his way past two corners later.
Things went from bad to worse for the Brit as he was soon caught by first Marciello and then Jordan King, with them running at one point three abreast. The battle for the lead raged on with Giovinazzi closing the gap to Sirotkin to claim the lead with only two laps to go.
On the final lap, King made his way through on Marciello. Behind the pair Rowland pushed too hard, losing the rear of his car allowing Evans through into P8 (having started P16 on the grid) meaning he will start Sunday’s Sprint Race from reverse grid pole position. Gustav Malja and Sergio Canamasas completed the top ten.
Giovinazzi now leads the championship following the disastrous race for Gasly; with PREMA having done enough to seal the teams’ title to be champions in their first season in the Series.
The Sprint Race starts at 11.20 local time on Sunday.
Sepang International Circuit Race 1 Results
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