It was a glorious day for Stoffel Vandoorne and Nobuharu Matsushita as the pair finished first and second in today’s action packed feature race at Sakhir. With this result, the teammates gave ART Grand Prix the 2015 Teams’ title. Mitch Evans completed the podium.
“The team did a great job with the strategy,” commented Evans. “If we boxed a little bit later, I may not have got onto the podium. The laps we did afterwards made the strategy work. Overall it was a good team effort. It’s really close out there between everyone. Stoffel was a little quicker than everyone else out there but between everyone else it was pretty close.”
It all happened at the start for Vandoorne: the Belgian driver made a great getaway from P2 as Pierre Gasly had a more difficult jump from pole position. Behind the leading duo, Raffaele Marciello kept third place ahead of Norman Nato and Alex Lynn. Vandoorne was able to quickly build a 2s gap to Gasly, keeping in mind that he had to make his medium tyres last for as long as possible before switching to soft compounds. Behind him, Marciello was able to pass a slower Gasly at Turn 1 for P2.
The Frenchman from DAMS had visibly lost his pace from yesterday’s qualifying and was unable to stop the charging pair of Nato and Matsushita, effectively dropping down to fifth. As Vandoorne looked unreachable at the front maintaining a 3s gap to Marciello, his teammate Matsushita put Nato under huge pressure and eventually passed him for third place on lap 18. This left the Arden man and Gasly battling for P4 with the latter overtaking his countryman three laps later.
Evans was on a mission of his own: the Kiwi who had started from P7 made his way up behind the pair of Gasly and Nato. He decided to be one of the first drivers on medium tyres to pit for soft compounds – a strategy that put him ahead of Marciello after the Italian’s own pit-stop.
Vandoorne eventually pitted on lap 22. Once his tyres were up to temperatures, the Belgian set the quickest laptime of the race and pulled away easily, building a 13s gap to Nathanaël Berthon who was on a different strategy having started the race on softs. The Frenchman struggled with tyre-wear and started to drop down the field letting pass the battling duo of Evans and Rossi. The pair made small contact and the American who had brilliantly recovered from a slow getaway damaged his front wing and had no other choice but to return to the pits for a new one, thus promoting Matsushita to third.
There was more drama behind for Nato who saw his efforts ruined when he had to return to the pits for a new pair of rear tyres. With six laps to go, Evans came under huge pressure from a charging Matsushita. The Kiwi resisted and managed to stay outside of the DRS range, but he started to struggle on his tyres and eventually made a mistake which allowed the Japanese driver to get past him.
At the chequered flag, Vandoorne crossed the finish line 13 seconds ahead of his teammate offering ART Grand Prix their fourth GP2 Series teams’ title. Evans was happy to be back on the podium ahead of Marciello, Sergey Sirotkin, Gasly, Haryanto, Lynn, Jordan King and Arthur Pic.
Feature Race Results
1 Stoffel Vandoorne ART Grand Prix
2 Nobuharu Matsushita ART Grand Prix
3 Mitch Evans RUSSIAN TIME
4 Raffaele Marciello Trident
5 Sergey Sirotkin Rapax
6 Pierre Gasly DAMS
7 Rio Haryanto Campos Racing
8 Alex Lynn DAMS
9 Jordan King Racing Engineering
10 Arthur Pic Campos Racing
11 Nathanaël Berthon Daiko Team Lazarus
12 Sergio Canamasas Daiko Team Lazarus
13 Marlon Stockinger Status Grand Prix
14 Nicholas Latifi MP Motorsport
15 Artem Markelov RUSSIAN TIME
16 Gustav Malja Rapax
17 André Negrao Arden International
18 Alexander Rossi Racing Engineering
19 Daniiel De Jong Trident
20 Rene Binder MP Motorsport
21 Dean Stoneman Carlin
22 Oliver Rowland Status Grand Prix
23 Sean Gelael Carlin
24 Norman Nato Arden International