For the second time in GP2 history, the title will be decided at the very last race of the season after Pierre Gasly’s dominant victory was just short of clinching the title on the feature race of the final round of the 2016 GP2 season in Abu Dhabi.
Gasly started from pole on the Option tyre and kept the lead, holding off an early challenge from Sergey Sirotkin on the first lap. He then went on to open a five-second gap in just four laps. As the options started to fall off the cliff, the PREMA driver made his mandatory pit stop along with many other fellow Option runners.
This elevated Nobuharu Matsushita to the lead as the Japanese driver started on the alternate Prime/Option strategy, while Gasly’s team mate and title rival Antonio Giovinazzi had to wait anoher lap to pit, which was costly after starting from sixth on the grid.
Gasly carved his way through to fifth, before the drivers who started on the Primes dived in to the pits, handing the lead back to Gasly who took a dominant victory, never coming under threat throughout the race.
Matsushita had driven a remarkable stint before pitting, exiting the pits in third place and overtaking Artem Markelov to finish second, ahead of the Russian driver in third place, while compatriot Sergey Sirotkin couldn’t keep his early pace on his way to fourth.
Norman Nato finished fifth but was demoted to sixth with a penalty for speeding in the pits, elevating Antonio Giovinazzi to fifth after an uphill battle for the Italian.
Giovinazzi narowly escaped a slow start and was hurt by having to pit a lap later than he would have wanted after his tyres were quickly degraded. After exiting the pits in 15th, Giovinazzi never seemed to have the pace to challenge the front-runners and the eighth position he needed to keep his title chances alive looked in doubt for a good part of the race.
However, he was able to cut his losses with a consistent drive, gaining more places as drivers pitted on the opposite strategy and eventually taking advantage of Nato’s penalty to come home fifth, 12 points adrift of Gasly, with 17 points still on offer in the last race.
Johnny Cecotto, Jr came seventh ahead of Alex Lynn who was delayed in his pit stop. Lynn’s team mate, Nicholas Latifi came ninth ahead of Raffaele Marciello, who had to dodge a loose tyre from Luca Ghiotto’s car during his pit stop when it rolled to the fast lane of the pits.
The sprint race starts at 14:20 local time (GMT +4)
Image via GP2 Series Media
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