Alex Lynn led from start to finish to end the 2016 GP2 Series season with victory, while Pierre Gasly took championship honours despite finishing outside the points in ninth.
Gasly took the title as his Prema Racing team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi could do no better than sixth in a testing afternoon for the Italian, who lost ground at the start and was always on the back foot.
The championship win for Gasly makes him the second Frenchman to take the GP2 crown after Romain Grosjean back in 2011, and opens up the debate of where he will race in 2017 after being overlooked for a promotion to Formula 1 by his Red Bull backers.
It was a far from straightforward victory for Lynn, with the DAMS driver having wheelspin off the line, but the Briton was still able to hold off the fast-starting Sergey Sirotkin into the first turn, while Norman Nato got ahead of front row starter Johnny Cecotto Jr, only to find the Venezuelan re-pass the Frenchman on lap two to consolidate his podium position.
Cecotto did even better as he made a last lap pass on Sirotkin to clinch second place for Rapax, albeit 4.945 seconds down on race winner Lynn, who bowed out of GP2 in the best possible fashion.
Nato was unable to stay with the trio ahead of him, and was forced to go on the defensive from Nobuharu Matsushita in fourth and fifth, with Giovinazzi shadowing the pair of them. Matsushita finally made the way passed into fourth at turn eleven on lap nine in a move he had been setting up at the turn for a number of laps with DRS.
After shadowing Nato for a number of laps, Giovinazzi was unable to follow Matsushita through, and then dropped back from the Frenchman with six laps remaining as he came under attack from behind from Artem Markelov, with the duo banging wheels through the chicane at the end of the back straight, with the positions ultimately remaining the same despite the Russian running across the run-off.
Giovinazzi retained sixth until the chequered flag despite running off track at turn eight and appearing to gain an advantage, with the Italian finishing 1.091 seconds back, while Mitch Evans made a last lap pass on Gasly to take eighth, although he could lose that position as he cut the corner to complete the pass.
Behind Gasly were British duo Jordan King and Oliver Rowland, who spent much of the afternoon battling for position, with both of them and Canada’s Nicholas Latifi all able to pass a struggling Raffaele Marciello in the closing laps.
Daniel de Jong was an early retirement as he found himself hit from behind by Luca Ghiotto at turn eleven, which spun around the MP Motorsport driver and earned the Trident driver a five second time penalty.
Yas Marina Circuit Sprint Race Result
|2||12||Johnny Cecotto Jr||VEN||Rapax||+4.945|
|3||2||Sergey Sirotkin||RUS||ART Grand Prix||+6.607|
|4||1||Nobuharu Matsushita||JAP||ART Grand Prix||+8.078|
|5||3||Norman Nato||FRA||Racing Engineering||+13.375|
|6||20||Antonio Giovinazzi||ITA||Prema Racing||+16.716|
|7||10||Artem Markelov||RUS||Russian Time||+17.807|
|8||7||Mitch Evans||NZL||Campos Racing||+22.609|
|9||21||Pierre Gasly||FRA||Prema Racing||+23.226|
|10||4||Jordan King||GBR||Racing Engineering||+28.848|
|11||22||Oliver Rowland||GBR||MP Motorsport||+30.312|
|13||9||Raffaele Marciello||ITA||Russian Time||+37.784|
|15||25||Emil Bernstorff||GBR||Arden International||+45.390|
|18||14||Philo Paz Armand||INO||Trident||+50.219|
|20||24||Nabil Jeffri||MAY||Arden International||+1:10.410|
|21||8||Sean Gelael||INO||Campos Racing||+1:27.122|
|RET||23||Daniel de Jong||NED||MP Motorsport||Retired|