McLaren reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne has broken the record held by Pastor Maldonado for all-time race wins in the GP2 series, after taking out the Abu Dhabi Feature Race.

The Belgian started from second on the grid and was forced to hold position heading into the first corner by pole-sitter Pierre Gasly, who blocked Vandoorne’s attack heading into Turn 1. Vandoorne put pressure on the Frenchman for four laps until his pace proved too great for Gasly’s passing the DAMS driver at the hairpin on the fourth lap.

Things went from bad to worse for Gasly who looked to be struggling for pace, as Mitch Evans also made a pass on the same lap demoting him to third position, while Raffaele Marciello also took advantage of Gasly’s slow pace in his Trident and passed him a lap later.

Evans, Marciello, Vandoorne

The Abu Dhabi Feature Race podium (L-R): Marciello, Vandoorne and Evans.

Russian Time’s Artem Markelov was on an absolute charge from starting the race in tenth position. The young Russian made up two places by passing Alexander Rossi and Alex Lynn and was already in fifth position at the end of the fifth lap.

Lap 6 saw most of the drivers who started the race on the super-soft tyre head for the pits, which included the two front-runner drivers of Vandoorne and Evans. This left Marciello to inherit the lead ahead of Markelov and Jordan King.

As soon as the pit stops had begun, the Virtual Safety Car was brought out after Norman Nato and Nicholas Latifi had a coming-together on Lap 6. The incident is being investigated by the Stewards.

After a two-lap intermission while the marshals recovered the stricken Arden and MP Motorsport cars, Marciello had pulled a lead over Markelov of just under four seconds. The pair was running well at the front until a mechanical problem saw Markelov’s race come to an early end on Lap 14.

Meanwhile, Vandoorne led Evans in thirteenth as both made their way through the field of drivers who were still yet to complete their mandatory pit stop. Marciello was still sitting comfortably in the lead on Lap 19, matching the lap times Vandoorne was setting on his newer set of medium tyres.

The front-running cars who started the race on the medium compound tyre made their pit stops on Lap 26, and having not created the gap required to Vandoorne to hold the lead, Marciello re-joined the race in six seconds behind Vandoorne in second position.

Carlin’s Sean Gelael made a rather embarrassing mistake that ended his race on Lap 27. The Indonesian misjudged the narrow pit lane exit and crashed head-on into the wall. The incident was cleared quickly so that it didn’t have an effect on the race.

Marciello set about catching Vandoorne on his fresh set of super-soft tyres, although he didn’t set the world alight with his lap times. He gained half a second and closed the gap to 5.7 seconds, however didn’t improve on his subsequent laps and lost time to the GP2 Series champion, finishing the race over nine second behind.

Evans was able to hold off Rossi for third position despite using up the life of his tyres, while Gasly finished the race in fifth position ahead of King and Rio Haryanto.

Nathanael Berthon set the fastest lap of the race on lap 27, as well as running as high as fourth in the race after he passed Arthur Pic before both made their pit stops.

2015 GP2 Series Abu Dhabi – Feature Race Final Classification (31 laps)
Driver Team / Entry Laps Result
1. Stoffel Vandoorne be ART Grand Prix 31 1:03:32.405
2. Raffaele Marciello it Trident 31 + 9.404
3. Mitch Evans nz Russian Time 31 + 10.327
4. Alexander Rossi us Racing Engineering 31 + 12.105
5. Pierre Gasly fr DAMS 31 + 22.621
6. Jordan King uk Racing Engineering 31 + 25.817
7. Rio Haryanto id Campos Racing 31 + 26.406
8. Alex Lynn uk DAMS 31 + 26.988
9. André Negrão br Arden International 31 + 30.412
10. Nathanaël Berthon fr Daiko Team Lazarus 31 + 36.974
11. Nobuharu Matsushita jp ART Grand Prix 31 + 41.939
12. Sergio Canamasas es Daiko Team Lazarus 31 + 43.105
13. Sergey Sirotkin ru Rapax 31 + 44.058
14. Rene Binder at MP Motorsport 31 + 45.982
15. Oliver Rowland uk Status Grand Prix 31 + 54.566
16. Gustav Malja se Rapax 31 + 1:00.592
17. Arthur Pic fr Campos Racing 31 + 1:02.596
18. Marlon Stöckinger ph Status Grand Prix 31 + 1:20.398
Not Classified Team / Entry Laps Result
DNF. Sean Galeal id Carlin 25 Accident
DNF. Dean Stoneman uk Carlin 23 Mechanical
DNF. Daniël de Jong ve Trident 14 Mechanical
DNF. Artem Markelov ru Russian Time 13 Mechanical
DNF. Norman Nato fr Arden International 5 Collision
DNF. Nicholas Latifi ca MP Motorsport 5 Collision

Images via GP2 Media

The following two tabs change content below.

Josh Kruse

Latest posts by Josh Kruse (see all)