Richie Stanaway soaked up race long pressure, and a late attack for the lead, to win this morning’s sprint race in Sochi from Rio Haryanto and Raffaele Marciello, while just off the podium McLaren test driver Stoffel Vandoorne collected the 2015 Drivers’ Championship from fourth position.
The win was set up at the start when the New Zealander made a great getaway from P2 to slice past poleman Arthur Pic: the Frenchman fought back but couldn’t deny Stanaway and Haryanto, with a safety car period caused when Sergey Sirotkin spun Dean Stoneman into retirement as Rene Binder and Marlon Stockinger came together behind them.
When the race went live again a few laps later the order at the front was Stanaway from Haryanto, Pic, Pierre Gasly, Marciello, Vandoorne and Alexander Rossi: the lead pair were able to pull away as the rest of the field looked for a way past Pic. Gasly had a big push and looked like he’d done the job, but the Red Bull tester ran too deep and clouted the kerb, dropping back to P6 and undoing his good work.
The inevitable happened on lap 9 when Marciello and Vandoorne both found a way past the struggling Pic, with the pair commencing battle for the final podium position: the Italian often ran deep in an attempt to build a gap, handing space to the Belgian if he wanted to risk it, but Vandoorne had one eye on the championship and was biding his time until he had a clear opportunity to get by.
The pair soon caught Haryanto and pushed him hard, but the Indonesian had plenty in reserve to hold off the squabbling pair until Gasly caught up, giving them something to consider in their mirrors and handing Haryanto some breathing space to pull away again. The fight between the trio was fierce until a safety car emerged on the penultimate lap when Johnny Cecotto found the wall at turn 3, dropping out of the points and into retirement.
Back at the front Haryanto was all over Stanaway and edged ahead at turn 13, just as the safety car signs came out: the New Zealander reclaimed the position and was greeted by the chequered flag a lap later to add another win to the one he collected earlier in the year in Monaco, with Haryanto having to make do with another podium for his collection. Marciello did just enough to deny Vandoorne P3: the series title will more than make up for it. Gasly did a great job to fight back to P5 ahead of Rossi, Norman Nato and Mitch Evans.
Vandoorne claimed the Drivers’ Championship with two rounds remaining from Alexander Rossi, 277.5 points to 169.5, with Haryanto on 126 points and Sirotkin on 121, while in the Teams’ Championship ART still leads the way from Racing Engineering, 328 points from 215.5, ahead of Campos on 186 points, DAMS on 172 and Rapax on 141 ahead of the next round in Bahrain.
Sprint race results
1 Richie Stanaway Status Grand Prix
2 Rio Haryanto Campos Racing
3 Raffaele Marciello Trident
4 Stoffel Vandoorne ART Grand Prix
5 Pierre Gasly DAMS
6 Alexander Rossi Racing Engineering
7 Nobuharu Matsushita ART Grand Prix
8 Arthur Pic Campos Racing
9 Mitch Evans RUSSIAN TIME
10 Norman Nato Arden International
11 Alex Lynn DAMS
12 André Negrao Arden International
13 Artem Markelov RUSSIAN TIME
14 Sergio Canamasas Daiko Team Lazarus
15 Nicholas Latifi MP Motorsport
16 Jordan King Racing Engineering
17 Dean Stoneman Carlin
18 Robert Visoiu Rapax
19 Nathanaël Berthon Daiko Team Lazarus
20 Sergey Sirotkin Rapax
21 Sean Gelael Carlin
22 Johnny Cecotto Trident