Racing Engineering’s Norman Nato has won the first race of the 2016 GP2 season after a cunning drive saw him clench the win from pole sitter Pierre Gasly in a late restart.
The race start was orderly with Gasly maintaining his lead while Lynn fell back and Sirotkin was up to third. Only Luca Ghiotto was out which called for the safety car to be deployed. At the restart, Gasly was able to keep ahead of Norman Nato in second and Sergey Sirotkin in third.
A few laps of Nato pushing Gasly ended with Nato having to sit back and defend from Sergey Sirotkin who was closing in on better tyres. But after his first real shot of overtaking, the Russian spun out of the race and stalled in the middle of turn 2 bringing out a second safety car with only 15 laps to go.
The safety car prompted the leaders to pit for Prime tyres and on the restart Nato forced his way past Gasly on the inside of Turn 10. Gasly could not answer Nato’s new-found pace and quickly fell out of DRS range and into the clenches of DAMS driver Nicholas Latifi.
Latifi who had been fourth until Sirotkin went off managed to get ahead of his compatriot and into second in the final few laps with a charging drive that saw him take a second out of Nato’s lead with a few minutes left in the race before it came to an early end when Antonio Giovinazzi took out Raffaele Marciello into Turn 4 which prompted a final safety car and brought out a final safety car with less than a minute to go.
Nato still finished second ahead of Gasly in third. Artem Markelov managed to get ahead of Sergio Canamasas for fourth after a long battle, Canamasas then lost another place to Alex Lynn and finished sixth ahead of Jordan King in seventh while Marciello was still classified in eighth after the results were taken from a lap early and will start on pole in tomorrow’s reverse grid.
Giovinazzi finished ninth ahead of Rapax’s Gustav Malja to round up the top ten.
The sprint race will start Sunday at 10:25 local time (GMT +2)
Image via GP2 Series Media