Silverstone, Race 1: Gasly glides to maiden win
Frenchman on top in Silverstone Feature Race
Pierre Gasly demolished any doubts remaining about his pace and racecraft with a dominant win in this afternoon’s Feature Race in Silverstone, picking the right strategy and pulling out a crushing performance to win by almost ten seconds from teammate Antonio Giovinazzi and Oliver Rowland.
The PREMA Racing teammates and Rowland were the only three drivers in the Top ten to start on soft tyres, but the gamble paid hugely. Poleman Norman Nato made a tremendous start to easily hold the lead when the lights went out, while fellow front row starter Gasly had to defend hard from Nicholas Latifi and Jordan King, who eased by the Canadian on the first lap, while Rowland and Giovinazzi hung on for a few laps before their tyres degraded, leaving the pair desperately waiting for lap six when the pitlane was to open.
The extra lap Gasly was able to eke out of his tyres was crucial, allowing him to re-emerge comfortably ahead of Rowland and giving him a direct line to the backmarkers on the harder compound: the Red Bull Tester sliced through the grid as though it wasn’t there, shrinking the gap to race leader Nato as he worked to put himself into a virtual P1. With an average stop of 30 seconds in Silverstone, by lap 12 Gasly’s engineer was satisfied that he was already there with a gap of just 23 seconds to the front of the race.
By this stage it appeared to be two races in one, depending on the compound being used, as it was clear that the soft starters had made the right call: Gasly was in a class of his own but Rowland had his mirrors filled by Luca Ghiotto, Giovinazzi and Nobuharu Matsushita, while on the hard compound Nato and King were in a teammate squabble while behind them Raffaele Marciello, Artem Markelov and Mitch Evans were fighting over what was left.
When the hard starters finally pitted Gasly sailed on serenely into a strong actual lead that was never to be troubled, while Giovinazzi mugged his countryman on lap 23 before rounding out his team’s 1-2 on the penultimate lap. Evans emerged behind Nato before setting the fastest lap and slicing by the Frenchman on lap 24 to claim best of the rest status, ten seconds behind Rowland in P3.
Ghiotto, who started last on the grid after a mechanical gremlin on the first lap of qualifying, rounded out an incredible drive to bring home an impressive fifth place, ahead of a train consisting of Matsushita, Nato and King, with RUSSIAN TIME teammates Marciello and Markelov filling the final points paying positions.
The win also handed the lead in the drivers’ standings to Gasly, leading another 1-2 over Giovinazzi by 72 points to 70, with Evans joint second with the Italian one point ahead of Rowland, Marciello on 68 and Nato on 65 points ahead of tomorrow morning’s Sprint Race.