Race 1: Stoffel Vandoorne shines in Sakhir

ART Grand Prix rookie takes maiden GP2 win on Series debut

By Franck Drui

5 April 2014 - 13:45
Race 1: Stoffel Vandoorne shines (...)

McLaren protégé Stoffel Vandoorne made a stellar GP2 debut today at Bahrain International Circuit: he led the majority of his first race from lights to flag in a display of mature and calm driving. He crossed the finish line 1.5s ahead of Julian Leal who disposed of poleman Jolyon Palmer in the closing stages of the race.

When the first feature race of the 2014 season kicked off, Vandoorne made a perfect getaway from P2 to get into the lead going into Turn 1. Behind the Belgian driver, Stéphane Richelmi and Stefano Coletti found a way past Palmer and Daniel Abt who both had a poor start from pole and P3 respectively. Vandoorne was on a mission and tried to build as much of a gap as possible before having to change from Soft to Hard tyres.

Drama hit the back of the field on the second lap after Kimiya Sato collided with Axcil Jefferies, sending the Zimbabwean driver into the barrier. The safety car came in ruining Vandoorne’s efforts. When the action resumed, the pitstop window opened and Richelmi, Coletti and Rio Haryanto (then running in fourth) all dived into the pitlane to switch to the Pirelli Hard compound.

Race leader Vandoorne pitted three laps later and came out in front of Palmer who had pitted on lap 7 and had managed to recover from a slow start that saw him drop to sixth place. The ART driver then controlled the remainder of the race keeping a gap to Palmer of about 2s and at the same time managing the degradation of his tyres. Behind him, Palmer was busy keeping a charging Leal at bay, the Colombian a bit quicker than the Briton.

Further down, rookie Arthur Pic had a brilliant second stint having pitted on lap 10 and slicing his way up the field and overtaking drivers who were struggling on their tyres in the final stages of the race: Richelmi was his first prey followed by Mitch Evans, Haryanto and finally Felipe Nasr to take fifth behind Coletti who controlled his pace from fourth place until the chequered flag.

Another rookie followed Pic’s way although on a different strategy: Kimiya Izawa started on the Hard compound from P23. A late pitstop on lap 21 meant that the Japanese had fresh Soft compounds to fight his way through the field to take sixth place ahead of Simon Trummer. The Swiss driver started from the pitlane on the Hard compound after stalling on the pre-grid. He got into the lead on Lap 18 and remained there until he pitted two laps before the end of the race. He re-joined in ninth and gained two placed before the final lap ahead of Nasr, Rene Binder and Adrian Quaife-Hobbs.

At the chequered flag, Vandoorne savoured a well-deserved first victory ahead of Julian Leal who had found a way past a slower Palmer. The Briton was then under the threat of Coletti but Palmer managed to save his podium finish also pocketing the bonus points for fastest lap on top of the two points for pole position.

1. Stoffel Vandoorne ART Grand Prix 32 laps - 59m57.411
2. Julian Leal Carlin +1.551
3. Jolyon Palmer DAMS +5.880
4. Stefano Coletti Racing Engineering +6.317
5. Arthur Pic Campos Racing +15.100
6. Takuya Izawa ART Grand Prix +21.729
7. Simon Trummer Rapax +21.979
8. Felipe Nasr Carlin +24.425
9. Rene Binder Arden International +24.861
10. Adrian Quaife-Hobbs Rapax +26.194
11. Daniiel De Jong MP Motorsport +27.034
12. Conor Daly Venezuela GP Lazarus +31.931
13. Daniel Abt Hilmer Motorsport +36.231
14. Mitch Evans RT RUSSIAN TIME +36.997
15. Artem Markelov RT RUSSIAN TIME +41.030
16. Rio Haryanto EQ8 Caterham Racing +41.714
17. Jon Lancaster MP Motorsport +42.412
18. Raffaele Marciello Racing Engineering +46.849
19. Stéphane Richelmi DAMS +49.656
20. André Negrao Arden International +62.346
21. Johnny Cecotto Trident +73.454
22. Alexander Rossi EQ8 Caterham Racing +94.560
23. Nathanaël Berthon Venezuela GP Lazarus DNF
24. Kimiya Sato Campos Racing DNF
25. Axcil Jefferies Trident DNF
26. Facu Regalia Hilmer Motorsport DNF



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