Pierre Gasly was in a race of his own as he converted his pole position at the Yas Marina Circuit into a fourth victory of the season, but Antonio Giovinazzi took the championship battle to the wire as he finished fifth.
Gasly led comfortably into the first turn, and then managed the Supersoft tyre better than most of his rivals in the first stint to pull out a gap to those behind, including those who started on the alternative Soft tyre.
When the Frenchman pitted, Nobuharu Matsushita assumed the lead for ART Grand Prix, but when he made his own stop to switch from the Soft to the Supersoft with four laps remaining, he fell into third, but despite a quick pass on Artem Markelov, the Japanese racer was left with too much to do, and although he set a stunning fastest lap, finished 6.737 seconds adrift.
Markelov had a strong day for Russian Time, swapping fastest laps with Gasly in the middle of the race, but ultimately ended the race in third ahead of the second ART machine of Sergey Sirotkin, who missed out on the podium by just under three seconds.
Norman Nato finished fifth on the road but the Racing Engineering driver took a five second penalty after speeding in the pit lane during his mandatory pit stop, which promoted Giovinazzi up after the Italian finished less than two seconds behind the Frenchman.
Johnny Cecotto Jr took seventh for Rapax after running inside the top three just before his pit stop towards the end of the race, while eighth place and reverse grid pole for Sunday’s Sprint race went to Alex Lynn of DAMS, who denied team-mate Nicholas Latifi to that position by 3.033 seconds.
Raffaele Marciello ended the race in tenth position for Russian Time, with the Italian dropping out of contention for the championship as a result. He also had a worrying moment during his pit stop when an errant tyre from Trident was they serviced Luca Ghiotto rolled into the middle of the lane, with a mechanic quickly removing the tyre to allow Marciello to get passed.
Gasly, who headed into the race three points behind Giovinazzi in the championship now leads by twelve points with the finale coming on Sunday, with seventeen points on offer should the Italian win and take the fastest lap. The title will go to Prema Racing, but to which driver is yet to be decided.
Yas Marina Circuit Feature Race Result
|1||21||Pierre Gasly||FRA||Prema Racing||59:14.764|
|2||1||Nobuharu Matsushita||JAP||ART Grand Prix||+6.737|
|3||10||Artem Markelov||RUS||Russian Time||+11.309|
|4||2||Sergey Sirotkin||RUS||ART Grand Prix||+14.111|
|5||20||Antonio Giovinazzi||ITA||Prema Racing||+20.172|
|6||3||Norman Nato||FRA||Racing Engineering||+23.686|
|7||12||Johnny Cecotto Jr||VEN||Rapax||+26.630|
|10||9||Raffaele Marciello||ITA||Russian Time||+41.589|
|13||4||Jordan King||GBR||Racing Engineering||+46.090|
|14||23||Daniel de Jong||NED||MP Motorsport||+1:04.814|
|15||7||Mitch Evans||NZL||Campos Racing||+1:26.008|
|16||14||Philo Paz Armand||INO||Trident||+1:27.892|
|17||25||Emil Bernstorff||GBR||Arden International||+1:42.538|
|RET||22||Oliver Rowland||GBR||MP Motorsport||Retired|
|RET||8||Sean Gelael||INO||Campos Racing||Retired|
|RET||24||Nabil Jeffri||MAY||Arden International||Retired|