Stoffel Vandoorne has handed his team the perfect leaving gift by closing out his championship winning season with victory in the final GP2 Series feature race tonight in Abu Dhabi. His seventh win of the year also claimed the record for most wins in a season, to his obvious delight as he celebrated on the podium alongside Raffaele Marciello and Mitch Evans.
The top four drivers chose to start the race on option tyres, with Marciello the first man on track on primes in P5: when the lights went out front row starters Pierre Gasly and Vandoorne led the field towards turn one, easily handling the fast charging Evans, but behind them Marciello was very slow to get away and was swamped by his option shod rivals, with Alex Lynn, Rio Haryanto, Alexander Rossi, Jordan King and Norman Nato all blasting by the Italian.
Vandoorne and Evans made short work of passing Gasly on lap 3, the Frenchman clearly struggling with his tyres as Marciello was coming in the opposite direction and easily passing the Red Bull test driver one lap later for P3. As soon as the pits opened all of the option drivers piled into the pits except Lynn, whose teammate was still ahead and therefore had priority: unfortunately for the Englishman a VSC period started on the next lap for an accident between Nato and Nicholas Latifi, and the pits were closed before he could use them.
The race went live 2 laps later, with Rossi taking the opportunity to pass Haryanto in short order as he chased after Vandoorne and Evans, who now led the pitted group, while Marciello sailed on serenely in the lead, pushing hard to build a sufficient gap to stop and re-emerge ahead of the McLaren tester, who was slicing his way up the timesheets in his now usual manner, blazing a trail for the others in his wake.
The question was when the prime tyred drivers would stop given how quickly they had lost efficacy for their rivals, and on lap 25 we had our answer as Marciello led his group into the pits: the Sauber test driver had a huge gap back to the others stoppers, but to his chagrin he re-emerged a few seconds behind Vandoorne. His fresher tyres allowed the Italian to push hard, but with 2 laps to go, his times started to drop and the game was over.
Vandoorne was greeted by the chequered flag almost ten seconds to the good over Marciello, who held off Evans on the last lap for P2. Rossi claimed best of the rest status just behind the pair, with Gasly fifth on the road but eighth on the results thanks to a 5 second penalty for speeding in the pitlane, promoting King, Haryanto and Lynn in the process, with Andre Negrao and Nathanael Berthon claiming the final points on offer.
Feature Race results
1 Stoffel Vandoorne ART Grand Prix
2 Raffaele Marciello Trident
3 Mitch Evans RUSSIAN TIME
4 Alexander Rossi Racing Engineering
5 Pierre Gasly DAMS
6 Jordan King Racing Engineering
7 Rio Haryanto Campos Racing
8 Alex Lynn DAMS
9 André Negrao Arden International
10 Nathanaël Berthon Daiko Team Lazarus
11 Nobuharu Matsushita ART Grand Prix
12 Sergio Canamasas Daiko Team Lazarus
13 Sergey Sirotkin Rapax
14 Rene Binder MP Motorsport
15 Oliver Rowland Status Grand Prix
16 Gustav Malja Rapax
17 Arthur Pic Campos Racing
18 Marlon Stockinger Status Grand Prix
Sean Gelael Carlin
Dean Stoneman Carlin
Daniiel De Jong Trident
Artem Markelov RUSSIAN TIME
Norman Nato Arden International
Nicholas Latifi MP Motorsport
Sprint race cancelled due to barrier damage
Large accident on first lap brought race to an early close
This afternoon’s sprint race at Yas Marina was cancelled due to substantial damage caused to the barriers after an accident on the first lap of the race. With the red flag shown on the first lap and the damage being unable to be repaired in time the event was closed, and no points will be awarded.
The race got underway in gloriously sunny conditions, with front row starters Alex Lynn and Rio Haryanto doing enough to hold position into turn one, followed by Racing Engineering teammates Jordan King and Alexander Rossi, but behind them Raffaele Marciello and Pierre Gasly touched, with the Frenchman tapped into a spin: compatriot Norman Nato was unable to avoid him and collected Sean Gelael, Daniel de Jong, Nicholas Latifi and Artem Markelov, while Arthur Pic tried to avoid the melee and found Sergey Sirotkin instead.
When the cars were removed the extent of the damage to the barriers was clear, and the repairs were unable to be effected in time to recommence the race. As a result no points could be awarded, leaving the title fights unchanged.
Stoffel Vandoorne is therefore crowned champion on 341.5 points ahead of vice champion Rossi on 181.5 with Sirotkin on 139, Haryanto on 138 and Mitch Evans on 135 points, while in the teams’ title ART Grand Prix are once again champions on 4