McLaren protégé Stoffel Vandoorne has clinched the 2015 GP2 Series championship after finishing fourth in the Sprint Race at the Sochi Autodrom.
The Belgian driver only had to finish in front of closest rival Alexander Rossi to take the title with four races left to run. Up at the front, meanwhile, Richie Stanaway held off Campos Racing’s Rio Haryanto to win his second race in the series.
Arthur Pic started the race on reverse pole position after finishing yesterday’s Feature Race in eighth position; Stanaway lined up alongside him in the Status Grand Prix entry. The pair enjoyed a similar getaway off the line, although Stanaway was able to use the inside line from Turn 1 and heading towards the Turn 2 right-hander to steal the lead. Pic missed the second corner and let his teammate Rio Haryanto by as he rejoined the track.
The Safety Car quickly made another appearance this weekend when Rapax’s Sergey Sirotkin made contact with Dean Stoneman, which sent the Carlin driver into a spin. Sirotkin received a 10-second drive-through penalty for the accident, as well as losing further time pitting for repairs.
On the same lap just behind the incident, René Binder and Marlon Stöckinger had a coming-together when Binder slowed down to avoid Stoneman and was collected from behind by Stöckinger who had nowhere to go. The Filipino driver therefore failed to make it beyond Turn 3 of the opening lap of both races, having been an innocent victim of Artem Markelov’s corner-cutting antics in Saturday’s Feature Race.
Once the Safety Car returned to the pits and the race restarted, both Stanaway and Haryanto pulled away from the field, while Pic was left to fend off the pressing Pierre Gasly. Gasly put pressure on Pic for a number of laps until he hit an inside kerb when he attempted to pass his compatriot, which saw him drop a few places just in front of Rossi.
This gifted fourth position to Rafaelle Marciello and a chance to pass the off-the-pace Pic, who at this point was holding up a train of five cars.
Stanaway started to pull a lead on Haryanto while the battle for the final podium position heated up, as Vandoorne had passed Pic and was starting to put the pressure onto Marciello, who had also got by the Frenchman. Vandoorne attempted a pass numerous times although couldn’t make one stick, and soon came under heat himself from Gasly, who had now passed Pic after he locked up at Turn 13.
The scrap for third allowed Haryanto some breathing space, which he then turned into a late charge for Stanaway’s lead. On the penultimate lap, Haryanto had cut the gap down to just half a second and tried a move on the inside of Stanaway at Turn 13 to seemingly take the lead.
The Indonesian driver’s ambitions were thwarted, however, as the Safety Car had been deployed after Johnny Cecotto Jr had a big crash at Turn 3. Haryanto gave the position back to Stanaway as a precaution, who took his second win of the 2015 season.
|2015 GP2 Series Russia– Sprint Race Final Classification (21 laps)|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|1.||Richie Stanaway||Status Grand Prix||21||40:30.089|
|2.||Rio Haryanto||Campos Racing||21||+ 0.579|
|3.||Raffaele Marciello||Trident||21||+ 1.293|
|4.||Stoffel Vandoorne||ART Grand Prix||21||+ 2.045|
|5.||Pierre Gasly||DAMS||21||+ 2.459|
|6.||Alexander Rossi||Racing Engineering||21||+ 4.498|
|7.||Nobuharu Matsushita||ART Grand Prix||21||+ 4.780|
|8.||Mitch Evans||Russian Time||21||+ 5.390|
|9.||Norman Nato||Arden International||21||+ 5.796|
|10.||Alex Lynn||DAMS||21||+ 6.923|
|11.||André Negrão||Arden International||21||+ 7.696|
|12.||Artem Markelov||Russian Time||21||+ 7.825|
|13.||Arthur Pic^||Campos Racing||21||+ 10.187|
|14.||Nicholas Latifi||MP Motorsport||21||+ 11.954|
|15.||Jordan King||Racing Engineering||21||+ 12.218|
|16.||Dean Stoneman||Carlin||21||+ 13.749|
|17.||Sergio Canamasas^||Daiko Team Lazarus||21||+ 15.927|
|18.||Robert Vișoiu||Rapax||21||+ 19.467|
|19.||Nathanaël Berthon||Daiko Team Lazarus||21||+ 32.828|
|20.||Sean Galeal||Carlin||20||1 lap behind|
|Not Classified||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|NC.||Sergey Sirotkin^||Rapax||21||4 laps behind|
|DNF.||Johnny Cecotto Jr||Trident||19||Accident|
|DNF.||Rene Binder||MP Motorsport||0||Collision|
|DNF.||Marlon Stöckinger||Status Grand Prix||0||Collision|
^ Post-Race penalties:
Arthur Pic, who was originally classified in eighth place, was awarded a five-second time penalty for overtaking under Safety Car conditions.
- Sergio Canamasas, who was originally classified in fourteenth place, was awarded a five-second time penalty for overtaking under Safety Car conditions.
Sergey Sirotkin, who was not classified as a finisher as he did not complete 90% of the scheduled race distance, was awarded a five-second time penalty for overtaking under Safety Car conditions.
Images via GP2 Series Media