Stoffel Vandoorne has won the opening GP2 race of the 2015 season ahead of Rio Haryanto and Alexander Rossi.
Starting from pole position, Vandoorne and his ART Grand Prix team-mate Nobuharu Matsushita opted to start the race on the medium compound tyre while most drivers around them were on the soft compound.
It was a risky move which didn’t pay off initially, as the safety car was brought out on the fifth lap when there was a four-car tangle and Turn Eight. Norman Nato and Raffaele Marciello had been fighting for position when Marciello went for a move on the inside, Nato made a move to block the Italian and the pair collided, with Nato also hitting and spinning Arthur Pic in front of them. The crash left Pierre Gasly with nowhere to go but into the sidepod of Pic’s Campos.
Most cars completed their compulsory pit stop under the safety car to get rid of their soft tyres and jump on the mediums. Vandoorne was left to stay out as there was no point making a pit stop to put the soft compound tyre on with 27 laps still to run.
It seemed then to be a race for the win between Rossi, Alex Lynn and Mitch Evans, as all three came out in good positions after their pit stop.
Once the safety car returned to the pits it was up to Vandoorne to create a gap large enough that he could pit under, he got his plan under way by posting his first fastest lap of the race.
Meanwhile Rossi was making a charge through the field to put himself in the best position possible once Vandoorne and second-placed Haryanto pitted. Lynn found that he pushed too hard on his tyres too early and began struggling for grip, then for position as he dropped through the field like a stone posting lap times six seconds off the pace.
Vandoorne pitted with 10 laps to go, and with Haryanto pitting a lap later this put Rossi in the lead. Rookie Jordan King was fighting Evans for second place while André Negrão was looming in the background in fourth.
After returning to the track, Vandoorne posted a blistering fastest lap of the race, which was an entire five seconds quicker than Rossi who was on used medium tyres. With five laps to go Vandoorne eased past Evans and then King to take second position. Three laps later he was on Rossi’s tail and challenging for the lead, although the challenge didn’t last long as Rossi’s mediums were no match for Vandoorne’s softer compound tyres.
Haryanto followed Vandoorne’s lead into second position utilising the grip provided by his soft tyres.
King finished fourth on his debut ahead of fellow debutant Robert Vișoiu. The Romanian incurred a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane which sees him keep his fifth position just ahead of Evans.
Nathanaël Berthon finished seventh while Julián Leal will be in reverse grid pole for tomorrow’s sprint race as he finished in eighth.
The GP2 Series Bahrain Sprint Race takes place on Sunday at 2:15pm local time (GMT +3).
|2015 GP2 Series Bahrain Feature Race – Final Classification (32 laps)|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|1.||Stoffel Vandoorne||ART Grand Prix||32||1:01:23.106|
|2.||Rio Haryanto||Campos Racing||32||+ 5.056|
|3.||Alexander Rossi||Racing Engineering||32||+ 5.497|
|4.||Jordan King||Racing Engineering||32||+ 12.322|
|5.||Robert Vișoiu||Rapax||32||+ 20.048|
|6.||Mitch Evans||RUSSIAN TIME||32||+ 25.543|
|7.||Nathanaël Berthon||Lazarus||32||+ 27.729|
|8.||Julián Leal||Carlin||32||+ 28.463|
|9.||André Negrão||Arden International||32||+ 29.502|
|10.||Nobuharu Matsushita||ART Grand Prix||32||+ 29.664|
|11.||Marlon Stöckinger||Status Grand Prix||32||+ 36.875|
|12.||Sergey Sirotkin||Rapax||32||+ 38.516|
|13.||Artem Markelov||RUSSIAN TIME||32||+ 41.021|
|14.||Sergio Canamasas||MP Motorsport||32||+ 41.391|
|15.||Richie Stanaway||Status Grand Prix||32||+ 43.375|
|16.||Zoël Amberg||Lazarus||32||+ 44.062|
|17.||René Binder||Trident||32||+ 44.682|
|18.||Daniël de Jong||MP Motorsport||32||+ 48.421|
|19.||Alex Lynn||DAMS||32||+ 1:05.572|
|Not Classified||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|DNF.||Norman Nato||Arden International||4||Collision|
|DNF.||Arthur Pic||Campos Racing||4||Collision|
Images via GP2 Series Media