Antonio Giovinazzi has topped up a brilliant weekend for himself and the PREMA Racing by winning a crazy GP2 Series Sprint Race in the European GP on Sunday.
After winning Saturday’s crash-hit Feature Race from pole, the Italian started eighth but dropped to a lowly 20th at the start, before delivering an inspired charge through the field that culminated in him overtaking teammate Pierre Gasly for the lead on the last lap.
Early on the race was led by ART’s Nobuharu Matsushita before the Safety Car was deployed when Racing Engineering’s Jordan King collided with Arden’s Jimmy Eriksson at Turn 1.
At the restart, Matsushita caused chaos as he suddenly backed off on the approach to the Safety Car control line when he caught the Safety Car as it peeled into the pits. This caught many drivers out, with Gustav Malja hitting Mitch Evans in the bottleneck before careering into Oliver Rowland and Sean Galael at Turn 1.
That triggered another Safety Car, and this time Matsushita held the field to a crawl right to the Safety Car control line. Incredibly, the Japanese driver’s antics again created another bottleneck and more midfield contact. The chasing MP Motorsport pair of Oliver Rowland and Daniël de Jong – the latter running on course for a maiden podium position – both tried to pass Matsushita at the restart, but only succeeded in locking up at Turn 1 and running wide.
On the next tour, Matsushita found himself under attack from second-placed Raffaele Marciello. The Italian lunged for the inside of Turn 1 but was hit by Matsushita as the Japanese driver blindly turned across him. To the visible delight of a number of the race’s recent retirees, Matsushita was out of the race and will be visiting the FIA Stewards to explain his restart antics.
The Matsushita-Marciello collision promoted Gasly – who started in 18th place – into the lead, with Giovinazzi fast closing on the Red Bull Academy driver. Giovinazzi had infinitely more speed than his teammate, but was hampered by the fact that his DRS wasn’t working.
For two laps, Gasly held firm in defence down the start/finish straight, but ultimately – and perhaps predictably – cracked under pressure on the final lap with a maiden victory in sight. He slid wide at Turn 1 and gifted Giovinazzi the lead, and dropped too far back to get a DRS-assisted tow to reclaim the lead on the run to the finish line.
Giovinazzi becomes the first driver since Davide Valsecchi in 2012 to claim a clean sweep of wins in a GP2 Series weekend.
Behind the PREMA Racing duo, Sergey Sirotkin finished in third place ahead of Jordan King and Artem Markelov – the latter moving to the top of the Drivers’ Championship standings.
Indicative of just how strange a race this was, Sergio Canamasas recovered from being delayed in the King-Eriksson collision and losing his front wing in one of the Matsushita restart concertinas to finish sixth. Malaysian rookie Nabil Jeffri claimed his first points’ finish in seventh while Arthus Pic claimed the final point with eighth place after starting in 20th.
The next round of the GP2 Series season takes place in Austria at the Red Bull Ring from July 1-3.
|2016 GP2 Series Europe – Sprint Race Provisional Classification (21 laps)|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|1.||Antonio Giovinazzi||PREMA Racing||21||44:49.606|
|2.||Pierre Gasly||PREMA Racing||21||+ 1.763|
|3.||Sergey Sirotkin||ART Grand Prix||21||+ 4.179|
|4.||Jordan King||Racing Engineering||21||+ 5.672|
|5.||Artem Markelov||RUSSIAN TIME||21||+ 14.809|
|6.||Sergio Canamasas||Carlin||21||+ 16.151|
|7.||Nabil Jeffri||Arden International||21||+ 17.693|
|8.||Arthur Pic||Rapax||21||+ 18.240|
|9.||Alex Lynn||DAMS||21||+ 19.856|
|10.||Marvin Kirchhöfer||Carlin||21||+ 22.745|
|11.||Raffaele Marciello||RUSSIAN TIME||21||+ 23.645|
|12.||Luca Ghiotto||Trident||21||+ 26.490|
|13.||Nicholas Latifi||DAMS||21||+ 28.862|
|14.||Daniel de Jong||MP Motorsport||21||+ 52.851|
|15.||Oliver Rowland||MP Motorsport||20||Brakes|
|Not Classified||Team / Entry||Laps|
|DNF.||Nobuharu Matsushita||ART Grand Prix||13||Collision|
|DNF.||Mitch Evans||Pertamina Campos Racing||12||Collision|
|DNF.||Sean Gelael||Pertamina Campos Racing||11||Collision|
|DNF.||Philo Paz Armand||Trident||9||Accident|
|DNF.||Norman Nato||Racing Engineering||9||Collision|
|DNF.||Jimmy Eriksson||Arden International||7||Collision|
- To be advised
Images via GP2 Series Media